At the Airport…

Here I am at Casablanca’s Mohammed V International Airport, waiting to board my Alitalia flight to Rome, Italy. Let me tell you, I have been to a lot of airports in the world, and every time I just love it. Not only because I love travelling by airplanes and the fact that I just love airplanes, but also because it always gives me a mix sense of excitement, adventure, and slight sadness.

I have faced quite a few difficult things in Morocco, and as if it wasn’t enough, the Kingdom of Morocco still sets her obstacles on preventing me leaving the country.  I got to the airport with one other friend on the program who is also flying back to the US by having my roommate’s Moroccan friend drive us. Now, you may say that it’s not a good idea to go on some random Moroccan guy’s car at 10 pm to get to the airport, which is located 30 km away from the main city, or in other words, middle of no where. Imagine everything that could go wrong. Luckily, Moroccans are nice people, so my friend and I got to the airport about 5 hours before our flight. All was well, we thought, we are finally going home! We went through a security check, and went to the second floor to check-in. The airport has 3 terminals, with Terminal 3 being the arrival terminal and Terminals 1 and 2 being the departure terminals. So I looked for Alitalia while my friend looked for Lufthansa, as she is to first fly to Frankfurt, Germany then to the US. Well, Lufthansa is in the new, modern, bright Terminal 2, while Alitalia is in the rather gloomy, dimmed, under-construction, and deserted Terminal 1. I mean really, the counters weren’t light up, there was no one in the vicinity, which made me really nervous and check the flight status screens every five minute to see if my Rome flight was still on there.

As it turned out, I was just simply early (even though my friend got to check-in for her Lufthansa flight, which departs around the same time as my Alitalia flight, the time we got to the airport), and at around midnight, a couple people from Royal Air Maroc, the Moroccan national airlines, appeared behind the counters and started to check people in. Now, I fly to Rome on Alitalia, but to Detroit and then Minneapolis on Delta. Assuming that being in the same airlines alliance (SkyTeam), I thought surely they could check my luggage directly to Minneapolis, so I wouldn’t have to take them out in Rome and went through immigration and everything. No such luck, but I was rather impressed with the agent, who actually kind of understood me saying “I am travelling to America” in Arabic. He then found someone who speaks English to tell me that I have to take out my luggage in Rome. Well, it was a nice try anyway.

Done with check-in, luggage sent (hopefully) to the right plane, I headed towards immigration, which was conveniently located on the far end of Terminal 2. I went in, told one of the security officer that I have 7 dirhams on me (I meant to say 70, but I wasn’t really in the mood of correcting myself), and went through to the lines. It was probably better this way anyway, as the export of Moroccan Dirham is strictly restricted, and I have heard stories of people having to take out everything in their backpack to show that they aren’t hiding any dirhams in their notebooks and such. I went up to the immigration officer to have my passport stamp. He looked at me and at the computer (obviously for any possible wrongdoing and things) and asked where I lived during my stay in Morocco. Upon receiving my answer in Arabic (“I live with a Moroccan family, I study Arabic language in Fez.”), he looks rather impressed, stamped my passport, and let me pass. 6 weeks intensive Arabic language courses for the win! I spent some time doing last-minute souvenir shopping (interesting enough, they don’t take any Moroccan Dirham after you passed through immigration. You have to buy things in American dollars or Euro) and am now waiting to board my flight.

Au revoir Maroc! Buongiorno Italia (briefly)!

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