Waiting for our flight to Casablanca where our feet will first touch a new continent, the airport sign seemed unreal.
By the end of the day we're scheduled to be at Riad Al Jana in Marrakech. I'm told by a fellow passenger that it translates to a house like heaven.
We read that the authentic Moroccan experience includes a stay in a riad, a traditional home with a garden courtyard in the middle rather than windows to the outside. It was explained that a house without the garden has exposed windows with elaborate grillwork so nobody can see inside, in order to protect the privacy of the women. Would prefer the garden variety, the bars looked a wee bit prisonesque to me.
Our riad is located in Marrakech's medina, the maze like old city, which contains historic sites and the souks (marketplaces). We have booked a personal guide for an all day tour tomorrow.
In the meantime, however, we're laying over in the Casablanca airport. The flight was good, more legroom than most, but in need of housekeeping. Royal Air Morac has apparently not received the memo that flights no longer include food, so we were pleasantly surprised when on a two hour flight, lunch was served: four chunks of nicely spiced Moroccan chicken, couscous, pasta and olive salad, bread and cream cheese and plain sweetened yogurt for dessert.
We had heard that the Casablanca airport had shopping, restaurants, and an opportunity to change money, however, that's in the international terminal. It's a good thing we had lunch; for our 5.75 hour layover we've been sequestered in the domestic section, a large echoey room with eight gates, a predictable number of unhappy children and antsy smokers pacing the floor.
Royal Air Maroc plane in Casablanca:
This is an appropriate time to bring up the Camino concept of the bathroom score, having made a trip to the washroom. We had fun with other pilgrims coming up with a scoring system, assigning a point for each item:
- A toilet seat. Thus is a spotty occurrence in parts of Europe, and now I can say the same holds true in Africa. Really, though, the presence of a toilet or lack thereof, is even a possibility. The foot pads on either side of a hole in the floor still exist, although I've yet to have to utilize one.
- Toilet paper. Pilgrims always have a supply in their pockets.
- Water other than cold. Rarely happens.
- A means to dry one's hands: paper towels or a functioning hand dryer.
- Extra points given for cleanliness.
Only one bathroom came close to having everything and that was in France. I think it was at a cafe.
One other Camino observation by a pilgrim I met. Why, on long stretches of the path without services, do you find so much toilet paper strewn about, when you hardly ever find any in a bathroom?