In the morning, I dragged myself out of bed and had to dress in the far corner of my room since the flap kept flying open! When I got outside, I saw what had happened! There was a Berber carpet on top of the tent that was supposed to come down over the flaps!
I still didn’t feel very well and couldn’t stomach anything further than a hard boiled egg for breakfast. I had to say goodbye to all the other travelers, as they were going on to Fez. Most of them gave me hugs and Felix’s friend Vanessa invited me to visit them in Valencia! Natelie from Hong Kong friended me on FaceBook. I was sorry to see them go!
Now I was alone, waiting for the driver to be ready to go. The manager, well meaning, but a little creepy, told me next time I should come for a week. I nodded but inside I told myself, “Nope!’ It was a cool experience but I’m a lover of greenery!
Finally, we were on our way but first needed to stop to pick up the Croatian couple. They had slept IN the desert and had to make their way back on camels in the morning, so we had to wait a bit before they appeared! We stopped then to pick up the three Italians and two Spaniards. A young American girl also joined up. She had not come out on a tour and was not very talkative so I never learned her story.
Then we hit the road back to Marrakech! It was a long dusty drive. We were entertained by some music in stereo, some Berber and some Western rock. I drifted off into a zone, just like the one I imagined my kitty Isabella would do on long car rides. I was lolled into a half-sleep and would have thoughts like “the driver is being helped by some kind of magical power. Everything is okay!” Indeed, I wondered what we all would have done without our driver taking care of us every step of the way, despite the language barrier.
When we stopped for lunch, I could only eat a quarter of my salad, as my stomach was still unsettled. I asked the Italian mother if they planned on giving a tip to the driver. She hadn’t thought of it, but by the time we got back in the van, her daughter and husband approached me and said they decided we would each pay 25 Dirham. And so we did and gave it to our driver. He didn’t react much, but I was pleased that we had done something. He asked us where we would all be dropped off. Abdellah had told me to go to Gueliz in downtown Marrakech and he would pick me up there.
As we reached town, in turn, each party got out. It was a little sad to say goodbye! Finally it was my turn and I was dropped at the McDonald’s. I sat there for a while using the WiFi and bathroom and then got a Big Tasty, which had the taste of Morocco in it – cumin and other such spices. I was visited by an outdoor cat, which was a joy.
Abdellah picked me up eventually and we headed back home. Amal, Simane and Anir raised their heads and smiled when I came in and both children came running to me and threw their arms around me! Anir asked why I had gone so far away. I felt warm and enveloped!
My last night, I slept so well, I did not even hear the first call to prayer before dawn! I felt so much better upon my awakening and could fully enjoy the lovely egg omelet sprinkled with cumin and special sliced bread Amal had made.
It was hard to say goodbye to Abdellah, who told me to come back anytime, and the kids, who told me to stay, as they left for preschool and work. Amal walked with me to the bus stop and together we rode into town. I was going to take another bus to the airport but a taxi driver approached us on the street and talked to Amal. Amal then told me it would be more convenient and not much more expensive to take a taxi, so I decided to do that. I had to say a hurried goodbye to Amal. She said next time I would have to come for longer!!! We told each other we would miss each other. And me and the cabbie were off!
At the airport, after going through all the check-in process, I still had time to do some shopping! Since I loved the tea culture so much, I bought an ornate silvery teapot, bright and diverse colored tea glasses, as well as mint tea bags! Oh and a magnet in the form of a Moroccan shoe for my roomie!
Boarding and flying to Casablanca went fine. On my way from Casablanca to New York, I sat next to an American woman dressed in Moroccan garb. She was an older woman whose husband had died just last year. She seemed like a good soul and we had a nice conversation.
After grabbing my backpack at JFK baggage return, I took the elevator to the AirTrain tracks. Among those waiting for the next train was a young Moroccan couple! I guessed, because she was wearing a head scarf. I educated them on how AirTrain works and then they were buying their ticket after the ride, so I helped them with that. Since they were taking the E subway train into the city, I decided to walk to the subway and ride with them on the train. I sat next to the woman and found out they both lived in the Netherlands and were coming to the US for the first time. They were a lovely couple and I hope they had a wonderful visit in New York City!
I had to wait for a while for my bus to Albany, so I got a pizza in the Port Authority building. Finally, it was time to board the bus and the ride didn’t seem too long. It was 2:30 in the morning when I arrived in Albany. My Uber driver was from Afghanistan. Another place I’d like to visit! At 3am, I fell into bed, but not before cancelling the first few lessons for the day! I would need a while to rest and process my amazing trip to Morocco!