Ups and Downs
It was brought up to me in Chefchaouen initially, and I have since noticed that the idea of lifes ups and downs is a cultural theme in Morocco. Even in the carpet that I bought, (though I had absolutely no intention of buying a carpet), there is a representation of the ups and downs we experience in life. I have read that Moroccans are very fatalisitic. Whatever will be will be. If not now, just wait. If its meant to happen it will happen. Or not. The same general principle applies to the flow of the good and the bad. You have to experience low moments in order to appreciate the highs. Its just the way it is. C’est la vie.
And so we began our journey home.
Leaving Morocco was a slow process for us and I am SO glad that it was. For me to have simply gotten on a plane in Marrekech after the time I spent here and all that it encompassed, would have been a mistake. A ripping off of the bandaid in a bad way. I needed to slowly return to my western existence in bits, so as not to return in pieces.
We had decided in advance of the trip that we would spend 3 extra nights in Marrakech and that we would go whole hog on a high end hotel to compensate for the camel fruit and dust along the way. That was a good idea. But wrong choice of hotel. The trip was just one long high point and checking in to the hotel was the start of a low point. Don’t get me wrong. I am totally cool with the “yes Miss Black”, “may I offer you water Miss Black?”. Bring it on. I also loved the upgraded corner terrace suite and the gorgeous sheets, the room service and the clean, hot shower. But the hotel was French. It was one of the Lucien-Barriere hotels and it was French. Seemingly a good idea when we booked it but I didn’t realize how much I would come to love Morocco and how happy I would have been in an upscale riad in the Medina. To say that our hotel was like being Paris but with Berber art ……well. The service was attentive but cold. The judgemental looks from the Front Desk and Doormen – honestly. Have you people never seen a Canadian before? Not to mention the coffee. The coffee was horrifying. AWFUL. Absolute dishwater. So next time, stay in the Medina. Don’t be an idiot. We also got to spend some time with some of our favorite Berbers and do a little shopping so the transition was slow, and fun.
Thankfully, or not, we had to fly out of Casablanca. Now in retrospect I remember that we booked this route for two reasons : it was cheap, and Laura got a really good deal on the 5 hour flight to Vancouver. So home we went on a bit of a milk run. First by train to Casablanca and then by plane to Paris, an 11 hour layover, and the Amsterdam and home. Direct for both of us. We parted in Amsterdam.
The train to Casablanca was great. We are old hats at getting around and this was no different. We went to the train station the day before and bought our tickets. 3 hour trip for 130 dh. ($15) in first class. The ever attentive Mustapha booked us a morning ride to the station and off we went. Marrakech to Casa Oasis. Casa Oasis to the airport. (another 90 dh). A few hours in the airport and off we flew to Paris. Oh, romantic, beautiful Paris, right? Bullshit. We got bad Paris.
Now in fairness it was late when we arrived. Around 10:30. And I was a grumpy pants because I really didn’t want to leave. But when we arrived at CDG and tried to find our way to the hotel, it became apparent that the airport was not going to be the source of any useful information. There were lots of signs. But the kind of one word signs you needed to know the details of. Which I assume you can get on the Internet. If you have it. But airport Internet blows camel balls. And I needed a data boy. STAT. So we ended up just following some generic overhead signs that said HOTELS ->
After grumbling a little and walking for about 2 hours (I do exagggerate) we finally came to a place where the hotel signs pointed in 3 differing directions all within one glance. Bullshit. Finally we found a human that wasn’t armed, asked him the way, and found out we were close. One more train and bam – hotel. The Novotel. It would have been really helpful if someone had put in 10 characters on the website under directions from airport : TERMINAL 3. Whoa.
We arrive at the front desk and my evil twin, Cathy with a C showed up out of nowhere. “What do you mean, one double and one sofa bed? A SOFA BED?” Bullshit again. I would not have booked this hotel if it had said sofa bed anywhere on the site. “But you booked through Expedia so thats the problem” said the poor night clerk. OH don’t take me down that road Sir. So off we go to our room. The nice man said “the bar is down there and breakfast starts at 5:30.” “Is it included?” I ask. No he laughs knowing full well I would never be staying at a Novotel again.
So we weren’t listening. Oddly. Is our room 434 or 234? You can’t tell by looking at his handwriting which looked like a 934. The elevator let us swipe for both floors. So there was that. We find our room, Laura turns down the sofa bed, and we head down for a drink. The bill comes and it turns out the vodka “soda” which in Paris is Perrier, was 12 euro. AN EIGHTEEN DOLLAR drink. Nice Paris. Fu*ck you too.
Sleep sleep all is well. Laura grabs a coffee in the morning for us, which I spill half of on my suitcase, and we head off to the terminal. As we approach the boarding line up there are two signs. < Orange line and > Green line. Way to go CDG. Super helpful as always. So we approach the man in the middle and he has me weigh my day bag and my carry on. Keep in mind I flew into to Paris no problem. Not getting out. “It’s 4 kg over” exclaims Judgey Von Judger pants. “Great, I say, what do I do next”. “Oh this BAD” he says. “Alright with the reprimand MOM, where to now please” and off I go to check my carry on. Of course that cost me 85 euro. So essentially it was going to cost me $120 to get my carpet home regardless of whether I shipped it or carried it. Whatever. It was actually a pure delight to fly the rest of the way with just my day bag.
Off we go to the gate where I’d like to get a full cup of coffee. Its Paris. Surely the first cup, and the stuff at the hotel in Marrakech, is not representative of the French art of brewing, but apparently it is. Water with a milk froth on top. And I stood in line for it. And paid. Water. Warm water with milk froth.
Paris – officially OFF my list of places to visit and places to connect. Done. Off with your head.
On to Amsterdam. What a great airport. First of all – bring a credit card cause the shopping is magnificent. And secondly – handsome Dutch boys everywhere. And friendly. And HELPFUL. And TALL. I was in paradise. I haven’t seen nice, handsome men in 2 days – what a relief. Short stay. Laura and I had been separated in Paris. (Did you expect less?) and she was waiting for me at the gate. I walked with her to her gate and we got all sorted out. Said a quick goodbye so as not launch into full ugly cry mid terminal and headed to my 8 hour Schipol to YYZ flight.
And so goes the Berber ups and downs. You take the good with the bad. I have had an awesome October. My whole trip was one big high point. I will count Paris as the big low and move on to an awesome November. Ive got plans to execute, things to get done, places to get back to.