Sunday, July 21, 2019

Morocco 2019 - Day 0 (7/13/2019) - NYC to Casablanca

Our flight from JFK to Casablanca was due to depart at 12:10pm, so Fran and I met at Terminal 1 at 10am (with me making it there first, for once).  However, our Royal Air Maroc flight pushed back somewhere between 45 to 60 minutes (depending on whether you believe me or Fran) late.  This endangered our already tight schedule - we were originally scheduled to land at 11:59pm and had until 1am until the Sixt car rental closed.

The pilots made up a bit of the time and the 6-ish hour flight landed at 12:15am, but we didn't make it through passport control and baggage claim until 1:05.  We hustled out in search for the car rental stall just in case there was a chance to still get the car, and were very lucky to find it at 1:15 just as the clerk was about to close the window.  Fran pleaded with him to let us get our car, and he relented without any pushback; he was just finishing up with another customer anyway (though he later told us that he had been working for 12+ hours and was very tired).

After a bit of a delay he issued my rental and I paid for it, including an additional $3900 hold on my credit card since I declined their insurance.  He then walked us out to the parking lot so we could pick up our the car.  After throwing our gear in the car we drove off to Casablanca to find our reservation at the Odyssee Center Hotel, using a combination of maps/directions that Fran had printed out and GPS directions that I had looked up in Google Maps while I briefly found WiFi in the passport control line.

We had an early scare when our route took us through a toll booth, as we did not get a chance to withdraw Moroccan currency (Dirham, or MAD) at the airport in our rush to get the car.  The non-English-speaking tollbooth operator indicated that the toll was 6 Dirham, and when we said that we didn't have any money we somehow communicated that we could pay in alternate currency (I think he proposed Euro).  Fran gave him a US$5 bill (an overpayment of approximately 44 Dirham), which he seemed unsure of what to do with, but then he let us through.

There was not much traffic on the drive (it was the middle of the night after all), but we did come across a couple of crazy drivers anyway.  Some Moroccans also have a habit of creeping through red lights.  That's not to say that I was without fault, as I badly handled one of the roundabouts.  In any case, Fran navigated me to the hotel without any missed turns except for the very last one, but we were pretty easily able to turn around and make it there successfully.

We parked along the side of the street in one of the spots reserved for hotel guests (guided by a hotel worker), and then went to the lobby to check in.  I had already paid for the room, but still had to pay an additional 60 MAD city tax.  I tried to pay by credit card since we didn't have cash, but it didn't work because the hotel was having Internet issues (we paid the next day).  This also meant that they didn't have Internet access in the rooms for what ended up being the duration of our stay.

We finally made it up to the room around 2:40am.  Though this translated "only" to 9:40pm in NYC, we were still more than ready to turn in for the night.

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Pictures: https://photos.app.goo.gl/sBEieH9QzNCeqwCy5

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