Sunday, January 10, 2010

All aboard!

I am currently in a first class cabin aboard a train headed from Rabat down to Marrakesh – it’s about a four hour ride – we’ve been on the road now for just under three days and we’ve accomplished the plane – train – automobile tri-fecta.

We survived a weather scare back in Cleveland where it is still snowing. Waiting at the gate we watched as planes de-iced and took off as visibility ebbed back and forth at the whim of passing snow fronts hoping against hope that we would not hear that fateful announcement of the airport closing as we did a couple years back when headed to Istanbul. Twenty minutes before departure and the flight crew had not shown up yet and I’m worrying that maybe they have the inside dope and we’re not going anywhere fast. Just then they show up and there is an audible sigh of relief amongst those of us at the gate. We board the plane to JFK trailed by a gorgeous black gal who was at least 6’ 3”. “Model or basketball ?” I asked her. “Model,” she demurred.

jfk01 We arrive in New York with around six hours to kill before our flight to Casablanca but already things are beginning to take on an global flair in the international terminal. Folks are wearing clothes that are cut just a little different than one is used to seeing on the streets of Cleveland, Ohio. Passing conversations are in Italian, Russian, Chinese, Arabic and I comfortably slip into the mode of not understanding folks around me. There’s a bit of solace to be had when background conversations become an unintelligible undercurrent like the waves on the seashore or the clack of steel train wheels on track.

Unfortunately CNN is still in English on the monitors hanging from the ceiling and I can fully understand the anchor as he goes on and on about the underwear bomber and the safety of airline flight. You’d think the TV pooh bah of JFK would switch some That Seventies Show reruns or something. The airport is an amazing place; the absolute crush of humanity all headed somewhere – either home or away. As we cattle herded our way through the security line a young Turkish couple shadowed an older duo in front of us from outside the security barriers making their goodbyes last as long as they good. Well actually, it was the young lady that seemed to be most interested in stretching out the farewell – the young man looked a bit relieved.

rabat01 On the plane announcements from the captain are in French, Arabic and then finally in English. The flight itself is uneventful and we land in Casablanca twenty minutes early where we are met by our hostess Cynthia who takes us to her place in Rabat where we will be staying while we visit the international school there after we tour the country for a week. Dinner, a get acquainted with ways of the market visit to the souks in the medina where we successfully managed not buy anything the first time out a hearty lunch and a light dinner and bed ways by 9pm. Up at 6:30am and off to the train station and tad a – here I am.

Okay, that was going to be th end of this post but something pretty cool just happened. We’re an hour into the trip and we’re in a cabin that has six seats. An older guy with a ball cap reading a biography of Chirac was already here when we arrived. We were just joined by a family – a husband wife and a teenage daughter. The man is in a blue suit jacket and the two women in traditional Muslim dress with the long skirts and head coverings. Once settled in the girl speaks to her mother and then leaves the cabin. About two minutes later a lovely young lady in stylish blue jeans and a fitted jacket with long curly black hair enters the cabin and takes the daughter’s sits in the daughter’s spot. It takes me a couple seconds and I realize – this IS the daughter. I’ve got a feeling this isn’t going to be the only surprise on this trip.





1 comment:

Karen Sandstrom at Pen in Hand said...

Cool post. You guys are reeeeaaally far away.