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Off-Topic: The Return from Morocco

As you might know, we made it back to Canada Friday night. Now on day two of isolation. Being an introvert, I can do two weeks easily. Unfortunately for my wife, she took her sewing machines in for a tune up when we left and won’t be getting them back for a few days. And also unfortunately for her, she’s stuck with me.

We had a couple of pretty stressful days.

The first week or so of our tour was great. Beautiful country, great food, good company. Then one morning (after a camel ride the night before,) our guide talked to us about what was going on. We voted we could go on with our tour. Later that day, after a stop at a beautiful gorge (the guide called it a gorgeous gorge), he got a call from the tour company saying all tours were ending that day. We drove to Marrakesh, many hours on the worst road I’ve ever seen. I like how in Canada when they are doing repairs on a road they do a section, finish it, move on to the next. There, 250 km of road that was torn up, in preparation of repairs. Of course driving late at night didn’t help.

We were dropped a hotel and got a few hours sleep. Next morning the six of us in the tour voted that this was not the hotel we wanted to spend time in, found a better one and had a nice day. Next day, we went for a bit of a walk noticing that Moroccans—or at least some of them—we avoiding us (we were lucky, there were reports of locals yelling at foreigners). We went to a nice music shop. I got a Moroccan guitarish thing, I’m never going to be able to play it well, but it is very cool.

We found all the restaurants in the city were closed and the bigger grocery stores were closing (fortunately, we did a beer run that morning). By supper time we were told that the restaurants in the hotel were closing and we would have to get room service. We also found out that hotels would be closing in the next two or three days.

Early to bed, we were woken by the hotel phone. It took me a bit to recognize that it was a phone ringing. A woman said she was from our tour company and we had to meet her in the hotel lobby now. We got dressed, fetched the other two couples from our tour and head ed down. That woman tells us that we have to go to the airport at 7:00 the next morning and that she had arranged a ride for us. We didn’t know what to do when we got there, but we got in a very very long line for easyJet. After a bit, we decided we were better off to spread ourselves out to different lines. The lines moved extremely slowly: we were in the lines for eight or nine hours. We met nice people in front and behind us in line. It was stressful and we all has moments were needed to go for a walk and kind of compose ourselves. Or take someone for a walk to calm them.

Frankly, the airport was the worst place we could be stuck for hours. With the talk of social distancing, there were hundreds of people packed into lines there. We quickly found out there were people in worse straits than we were. We met many people from Europe who were there for a cheap holiday and couldn’t afford to pay for another flight (since it would be a while before cancelled flights were refunded) nor could they afford to stay in hotels (presuming there would still be some open), while we were looking to rent an apartment or house for however long we might be there.

Anyway, while in line, someone near our friends said they booked a flight for the next day on line. Our friends quickly looked on their phones and, at first it showed sold out. But then, refreshing they found four seats, for us and them. We stayed in the easyJet line because we had to confirm the seats with the desk. So we had seats, but we had had seats on other flights and they were cancelled, so we were still uneasy.

The woman who called us in the middle of the night arranged a ride back to town and found a beautiful old riad for us to stay at, as our hotel had closed. We had a terrific meal there with free wine (the staff told us that someone staying there had left wine behind, and they decided to give it to us). We arranged for a ride at 7:00 the next morning (our flight wasn’t until 12:15 but we didn’t want to take any chances). At 7:00 we went to the lobby and, lo and behold, no one was there and the front door was locked (can you imagine how dangerous it would be to have the doors of a hotel locked from the outside?). We spent half an hour searching for a key for the door, when a worker finally showed up and let us out.

Back to the airport. Back to lines. After 10:00 our bags were checked and we cleared security. Got in line for the flight and waited. Made bets on when we would be wheels up.

I “won” guessing 3:45 (it was after that). We were late getting on the flight and then the pilot told us that they had a couple of empty seats on the plane and they were going to fill them. They wanted to take every person they could. There were rumors of half-full flights leaving Morocco the day before. We were fine with that waiting and we cheered when the flight left the ground.

And cheered when it landed in London. We booked a WestJet flight for the next day.

We went to the hotel bar, had a nice supper and more beer than any four people should drink in a week. My wife and my friend’s wife went to bed and he and I had more Scotch than anyone should have in a month. We earned it. We woke early the next morning for our flight to Toronto, had another nice meal and then flew back home to Calgary.

With our friends we did talk a bit about how we felt a bit bad about taking the flight out of Morocco. There were many many people who needed out more. We had resources to get a place to stay, we also had offers of other places to stay. Our tour guide offered to let us stay with his family in a small town in the south of Morocco, which would have been a great place to wait out the virus. And we had other offers of free places to stay. As my friend said, as long as the beer held out we would be fine.

There were times I was sure we could be spending the summer in Morocco. And really, it wouldn’t have been a bad place wait things out. But I am glad we got home.

Our Canadian Embassy in Morocco was less than helpful. We got an email they were closing the doors because of the virus. When emailed them for help, we got a form email back, when we replied, we got the same form letter back. Other countries had embassy people at the airport helping citizens. Canada didn’t. Writing our member of parliament was also useless effort—He wrote back to my wife asking us to “check the airlines’ websites” (well duh, how stupid do you think we are?) and to contact the Embassy. He didn’t bother to reply to my email.

There is a “Canadians in Morocco” Facebook group and, even with the government finally sending planes to get people out, there seems to be still many Canadians stuck there.

Anyway, we’ll get back to writing about baseball, or the lack thereof, soon. Sportsnet will be showing some games in the next few days. Today’s is Vlad’s first MLB game from last season.