I had planned to celebrate a milestone birthday in Egpyt, but plans fell through. I’m happy that they did though, because my top-of-bucket-list destination arrived about 6 months later, via a small group tour run by Doug Baum at Texas Camel Corps.
It had taken me 3 days to pack, and repack after a nagging voice in my head told me to swap shoes and move chargers and adapters to my purse, along with a sewing kit, a bit of duct tape, a spare shirt and a book. It seemed ridiculous but I attributed it to the pre-travel jitters that always keeps up until 2 AM the night before a flight.
Adam, the apartment maintenance guy arrives to patch the ceiling in my bathroom after a week of flooding from the upstairs neighbor. “It’ll all be repaired by the time you get back,” he assures me. I’ve spent the last several days packing valuables into my now empty fridge, oven and dishwasher, bundled much of my clothing into plastic bags, and have parceled irreplaceable belongings out to a handful of friends, in the event that the neighbor upstairs persists in letting his faucets run unattended, or worse – setting the place on fire, as I look with some concern at a BBQ which has newly arrived on his deck…
A final tussle with the ShopCats and reassurances that substitute keepers would arrive twice daily to provide them with meals and playtime, I’m off to board bus and then LightRail that will take me to the airport.
I am finally on my way to Morocco.
I have left extra early to counter Seattle traffic (there was none), and lines at the airport (there were none). I take a pleasant stroll down the concourse to the Lufthansa ticketing desk with my TSA pre-check pass in hand. “Sorry miss, your bag is overweight (by less than 2 pounds!) and will have to be checked.” Oh well, at least I won’t have to wheel it through the airport and struggle with getting it into the overhead bin on the plane. I hop onto the tram (no waiting!) to the international gates, and get through security without having to take off my shoes (a first!). I’m still 2.5 hours early, so it’s breakfast and a copy of El Cid that I had slipped into my purse last night.
Previous flights to Frankfurt have taught me to book an aisle seat in the center section of the plane, since the chances are high that you’ll have at least one empty seat next to you. This pays off for me again, and after dinner and a movie – “The Dressmaker,” a deliciously dark piece which I would add to my video library upon my return the States. I curl up across 2 seats and take a nap.
Eight hours later, we land in Frankfurt. No frisking or swabbing for explosives at Frankfurt (another first!) “Wow, this is going to be a great trip, everything is going so well!” I meet up with Brenda, a woman from Toronto who will be one of my traveling companions for the next nearly 3 weeks. We pass the time with idle chit-chat, sitting on the floor in the hallway, wondering why the seating area for the gate is behind locked glass doors. Finally, after the hall has filled with passengers, and the staff have made several false starts, the doors are unlocked and we flood in. More waiting, and then boarding, and the final leg of the flight begins.
The plane follows the Spanish coastline on its way to North Africa. I’ve booked a window seat for this 3 hour flight, and look out over green lakes, an unexpected patchwork of crop fields that stretch to the horizon, and an expanse of solar panels about half an hour outside of Casablanca.
We land, and head to baggage claim. Brenda finds her suitcase right away and waits for me as I search the carousel, and then the piles of suitcases in the corner, and then every other carousel. After about 20 minutes I find an airport staff to help me, and we search again, everywhere for a tidy, well packed lime green bag…
…that apparently never arrived…