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Cooling My Heels in Marrakech

December 16, 2021

The next morning I checked the Air France website to make sure my reservation was there, but it wasn’t, and I couldn’t add it. Even though it was the middle of the night in CA where Marc is, I placed several WhatsApp calls, and he finally called me back, unable to explain why Air France didn’t seem to have my reservation but promising to get right on it.

Meanwhile, Abdou picked me up to get a rapid Covid test and we were told we could return to the clinic in two hours to get the results. Back at the riad, I optimistically gathered all my stuff, still awaiting word from Marc, and we went straight to the airport after I got the (negative) test results. It was too early to check in, but the AF website still didn’t show my reservation. I queued up at check-in, and when I got to the desk, a very unfriendly agent told me, unsurprisingly, that I didn’t have a reservation. I called Marc to report this, and he told me he’d been having trouble getting in touch with the ticketing people because it was the middle of the night (he had assured me he was there for me 24/7, but clearly his ticketing folks aren’t). Finally, after I had cooled my heels for an hour, he phoned back with the news that AF had cancelled my flight. “Not our fault,” he claimed, which cut no ice with me. Even though it was still two hours till takeoff, he told me I wouldn’t be getting out. I suspect they bought a seat that was already sold.

Dejected — no, furious — I returned to the riad, where I am able to stay as long as I need to. Through WhatsApp I met Jane, the American owner, who splits her time for now between Marrakech and Minneapolis. She couldn’t have been nicer, and I think we have a lot in common. In fact, she lived in West Hartford, CT for three years! She offered to arrange for someone to come to the riad to give me a Covid test whenever I know I’m flying.

Another lovely dinner by the amazing Fatna. I thought I couldn’t eat another tajine, but her version, with chicken, green olives and lemon, was just delectable. I loved the flavor the olives developed in the sauce.

Marc finally got in touch to tell me I was booked on the AF flight on Thursday, two days from now. When he sent me the confirmation, it was to JFK, but at this point I don’t care, as I can find a flight to Boston easily enough. 

I discovered tonight I’ve been calling Fatna Fatima, though she’s so gracious — and speaks no English — that it doesn’t seem to matter!

15 December — Still in Marrakech

When I awoke this morning I checked the AF website, and, thanks be to God! my booking for tomorrow popped up. But it’s to Boston, not JFK, which makes me very happy. I was able to go in and select my seats, and they told me I could check in at 10:30. I texted Marc to see how that had happened, warning him not to mess it up. Thus began a process of obsessively checking the AF website every few hours to make sure my booking hadn’t disappeared.

After breakfast I ventured out to see if I could find my way to Jamaa el Fna to find the sweet little beaded slippers I had seen for Maya but didn’t buy two weeks ago.

I haven’t spoken much of my location, which is deep in the medina down unmarked streets on the opposite side from Dar el Cigognes. Khalid, the sweet young man here at Riad Baya, got me started, and my GPS worked to get me all the way there.  And I found the slippers! But alas, I lost the signal when I attempted to come back and became hopelessly lost. I finally gave in and decided to take a taxi, confirming with the driver that he could find the riad. Well, he couldn’t. You can’t just drive up to it anyway; you have to park on a bigger street and walk about 5-6 minutes — if you take all the correct turns — to the little nook where it’s located. 

So the driver dropped me and said I was close (I was, but I couldn’t verify that). I set off, trying to find a place where I could get WIFI and retrieve my map. I stopped a young woman who ooked as if she might speak English (she did, a little) and asked if she knew the riad. She didn’t, but the nice woman walking with her who spoke not a word of English and very little French guided me part of the way (though it turns out she didn’t know the riad either) and we stopped at a shop where the kind owner let me jump on his phone’s hotspot. Turns out I was a mere one minute away!

An aside about my experience with my Maroc Telecomm SIM card. I bought it here in Marrakech shortly after I arrived, and the transaction was a bit confusing because of the language barrier. I know the coverage is good through 12/31; and for the first week or so it served me pretty well: I could use the GPS while exploring Marrakech, retrieve email and WhatsApp messages while we were traveling, no problem. But beginning a few days ago I was unable to access the internet unless I was in a place with WIFI. Maybe I ran out of my data allowance? No idea. This was my first experience swapping out my SIM, so I’ll need to understand it better next time I travel abroad. And probably get a universal card.

Back at Riad Baya, I checked AirFrance again and saw that my reservation was still there, and I was able to check in and select my seats. The site says I can see my boarding pass, but I couldn’t; but that doesn’t really worry me. This afternoon I felt confident enough to send a Marco Polo video to Katherine with good news, finally. Marco Polo has saved my sanity, as I’ve been able to see videos of the grandkids just about every day.

This evening a person is coming to the riad to administer a rapid Covid test; he’ll email me the results in a few hours, so I can print them out before I leave here. Only thing left to do is reserve a hotel room at Charles de Gaulle for tomorrow night. Oh, and keep checking the AirFrance website!

  1. Sophia Rodin permalink

    I absolutely love reading all your postings Diana. I feel like I am actually there and enjoying what you are describing. Beautiful photos!

  2. Steve permalink

    Hi Diana. Could you travel to Istanbul, please, and reporting with your excellent detail? I want to go there! Perhaps I could trace your tracks. Stay well.

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