January 17, 2003
A quick shower, cup of coffee, re-check of tickets and passports, and we’re in my bright blue rented Twingo heading for the Marseille airport.
The check-in line is short, but hectic. Muslims returning to Africa are piling huge, brightly colored striped plastic bags full of bedding on the baggage checkstand (could bedding be cheaper in France?), and everyone is laden with bags of all kinds even though only one carry-on is allowed. Glancing around, we decide that the Tunis line looks a lot more ominous than ours though, with a row of thug-like brassy-eyed and tattered men glaring at each other. Our line for Marrakech is simply full of over-laden shopper types and large veil-clad ladies who try to butt in line.
At the counter, the check-in lady asks to see our visas. We’ve both checked on whether visas are needed for Morocco (not), so we’re startled. P tells the woman we don’t need them for stays of less than 90 days, and the lady thumbs through a book and says "vous avez raison" (you are right). Phew. Then we wait in the security line while people with excess bags are sent back to check them and others are frisked and wanded and asked to empty pockets.
We’re off on time through a heavy cloud cover and not insignificant turbulence, and P. is amused at my anxiousness. I’m not the greatest flyer under any circumstances, but my flight of last week has jangled my nerves.
The flight pattern seems to us to be quite odd. We first appear to go straight out across the Mediterranean, but are soon back hugging the coast of Spain. There are myriad huge round brown "fields" of some kind along the Spanish coast. You can see the circular plow marks within them from the air.
After I point out what is clearly to me the coast at Tangier (I tell P. with complete assurance that you can see the circular beach where all the young boys bathe in summertime), we fly straight over Gibraltar, and I’m completely confused; that can’t have been Tangier after all. Then we are hugging another coastline, which seems to mean to us that we must be traveling south along the Moroccan coast. There are more circular fields, 22 of them in one area, all different shades of brown and pale green. We fly over two cities, each of which I assume is Casablanca, before we come to Casablanca itself. There’s a sirocco or some other windy phenomenon going on, and the plane is bucking all over before landing, and I’m pleased to be on the ground when we land. A bus is waiting to take us about 20 feet to the airport entrance.
From journal The Road to Marrakech