Friday, July 11, 2008

Morocco: Day One: Out of America


After planning this trip formally and informally maybe as far back as 2004 when Jennifer last went, we're finally actually en route.

We're leaving today and returning on the 21st, flying directly between New York's JFK Airport and Morocco's Mohammed V Airport in Casablanca. I think we're staying in three different places in the 10 days, but JR is the keeper of the actual itinerary.

It's currently 13:29 EDT, and we're on the Bieber Bus to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan ($135 for all four, round trip). Dad dropped us off in Wescosville at the Charcoal Drive In for the 2 hour 15 minute bus ride. The seats on the bus, in addition to going up and down, go forward and back. So far back, in fact, that the seat in front of me is no further from my nose than the lenth of this journal (8 inches/20 cm). Once at the PABT the plan is to take the A Train (subway) to Brooklyn and the Howard Beach station. From there we take the SkyTrain to JFK. On paper, it looks straightforward. I guess we'll see.

We've brought surprisingly little with us. Everybody has one carry-on, plus I have a backpack, and we still have some empty space. I would have my camera bag with me, but yesterday I managed to leave my Canon 40D in my Avis rental car at PHL, so as of now, it's M.I.A. I really hope it turns up, but regardless, it's not with me now. I'm trying not to let my grief color the rest of the trip though.

So this will be the kids' first trip out of the country, or "out of the continent" as they prefer to say it. We got them their five-year passports in January, and they're ready to break them in. The flight is under seven hours, and allegedly departs around 20:30 NYC time, wo we'll be arriving in Casablanca at 08:30 local time, or 03:30 biological time. I don't expect the jet lag issues at a 5-hour time difference to be too bad. The lattitude isn't too different, so daylight length will be similar. The weather should be more comfortable than at home, but Marrakesh looks like it can get hot. Over 105F (40C) on occasion. We don't really need to see that.

19:45 JFK Airport, Terminal 1, Gate 5. WE are on the plane in rows 33 (JR & ZR) and 34 (TR & me), all the way on the right side, aft of the wing. The plane is a 767-300ER in Royal Air Maroc with a seating layout of 2-3-2 in coach. I think we snuck in more carry-on stuff than we should've. They weighed each bag (for the first time ever) and several were over the 10 kg (22 lb.) limit. So we took some of the stuff out of the overweight bags, and shoved it into the underweight bags that had already gotten their approval sticker. I think in the chaos the ticket agent didn't notice that we had five bags for four people. I hope we're as lucky on the return flight. Complicating that trip also is that we're ticketed through to Washington DC, I think, but we'll bail at JFK anyway. I think if we checked luggage, we'd retrieve it for customs anyway and then re-check, so we'd have the chance to grab it and go.

Getting here, the Bieber Bus was decent, and only took two hours. It dropped us off, and it was pretty simple to go upstairs and get on the subway. Taking the train a nice young guy informed us we'd have to get off one stop before we thought we'd exit, then get on the next train. I guess we're on an express and need a local. The AirTrain connects to the Howard Beach station, and is an additional $5 each on a Metro Card. Note to travelers: since the AirTrain takes the same Metro Card that the subway does, you can just buy one card with additional value and use it for both. Good to know.

We should depart on time, and the plane is pretty full. There are a lot of kids and babies on board. Too bad my noise-cancelling headphones are tweaked for just engine frequencies, not baby frequencies.

(repost time: 7/11 19:23)


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