December 20, 2009 Bouskoura, Casablanca, Morocco
duration: 6h 23min
"I'm cheap!" - I had already assumed that the airport worker was asking for baksheesh but my french was too poor to be sure.
A minute earlier i had peeked through the lamellar curtain of the baggage carousel to check if the box with Daniela's bike already had been delivered from the plane to the baggage area. To my utter shock i saw her transportation-box ripped open and Daniela's bicycle standing outside of it. I immediately thought about the front wheel and the tent we had also put in the same box and i feared that the box had been ripped open much earlier on it's 3000km journey and it's contents where gone.
On the plane from Istanbul we had joked about lost luggage and wondered if all of our stuff would make it to Morocco, especially the bicycles. Daniela stated she knew everything would go well, but i had a gut feeling. I was pretty ecstatic when we left our flat in Vienna at 5:00 and i was so nervous i was close to puke during the whole journey to Casablanca. Luckily i managed to relax just enough to keep my fragile balance throughout the flights. The security checks where the worst parts, my heart was pounding, i was agitated as if i was on speed, my hands where sweaty, i was talking even faster and pushier than usual and dry heaved a few times. The reason for my behaviour was a strong manic phase that had been induced by sleep deprivation a few days earlier and had accelerated to a speed i had not experienced before.
However, when the first problems at the checkout in Casa surfaced and adrenaline was flushed through my system the flimsy, hypernervous anxiety was replaced by some grounded fear and this forced me to take over control of the situation. I jumped on the conveyor band of the luggage carousel to get through the aforementioned curtain outside, where our luggage had apparently been scattered across the clearance.
On earlier travels i was often unconsciously driven by my environment, i had been badly duped by a "tourist guide"inTangierswhen i was 17, at 22 i was persuaded to book a lame tourist desert-tour fromOurzazate(Riding dusty 20km on the plattform of a pickup truck while our "guide" was comfortably sitting in the drivers cabin). Generally i had always been far too naive while abroad. Though with age comes wisdom and upon arrival in Istanbul i realized i was capable of controlling my fate a little bit more when somebody saw the chance to squeeze some coins from us:
It may sound naive, but i enjoyed to observe that the tourist-information-agent at the airport was not very neutral and objective when we asked him about a cheap accommodation for our night in Istanbul.
He was not interested in giving us any good information about youth-hostels or dormitories, but instead praised the hotel-booking-agencies on the other side of the hall to the skies, so it was pretty obvious that he had an agreement with them.
Since we couldn't get any useful advice from him we nevertheless agreed on checking out the offers of the hotel-booking-agencies and followed the friendly turkish lady that lead us across the hall.
I was very amused when the hotel-booking-agency-guy was greeting us overwhelmingly friendly and hospitable and performed the full car-salesmanshow to convince us of the "high-class" EUR 100.- double room he was offering: After some lengthy introduction and the offering of cold water we finally got to talk about the "important" business contract we where going to arrange:
"Do you trust me?"
"Sure, why shouldn't i?"
"Ok, i have a very special price, only for you. I only get it so cheap because the guys(At the hotel) love me. You can have the room for the special price of 80 Euros!"
"No, this is too much."
He was taken back at first that we didn't take his marvelous offer right away but soon found his balance again and started praising the perfect situation of the hotel close to Topkapiand Hagia Sophia. No signs of interest from our side. Phone call.
"Ok, ok. This is very unusual, we are actually loosing money now. The absolute minimum i can offer. 60 Euros?"
He turns away, acting aggrieved, refusing any further haggling with greedy people like us. As we stand up to leave he turns back, smiling mischievous.
"Ok, 50, no problem."
There was a promising mild scent of spring in the warm, humid wind on the gangway in Casablanca and we where in a bright mood upon entering the airport building. After we had finished the border-formalities we headed for the baggage-claim. The long wait for the first bags to appear on the belt already unsettled us and when i managed to hunt down an airport worker to ask him how "bigger luggage"(Our bikes) was handled at this airport the situation got worse. He told me to wait and after another couple of minutes the huge box with great difficultymy bike was handed to me through the tiny window of the carousel mentioned above. Daniela's bike had not yet arrived so i was regularly checking the status by peeking through the window.
After seeing Daniela's bike outside on the concrete i was furious and my urge to take things in my own hands took over.
I jumped through the window, after a short discussion finally ignored the airport worker asking for a bribe and approached the box where Daniela's bike had been. A sigh of relief left my body when i saw the green tent-pack and the front-wheel lying unharmed inside the ripped box. The workers that had watched me curious and a bit annoyed for breaking the security barrier realized how worried i was and encouraged me by stating that everything was "C'est bon, c'est bon".
Pacified, i went back the way i came and waited till the box-contents had passed the x-ray. Finally we had safely retrieved the bikes and the rack-packs, but we where still waiting for three bike bags we had wrapped in one big sack. Daniela saw it first on the conveyor belt and when she picked it up her expression changed to utter disbelief. "It is far too light!"
After closer inspection we realized there the sack had been ripped open and one of the bigger yellow Ortlieb-Bags was missing. This time we where not lucky and after one hour of waiting at the empty carousel and begging the airport workers to check everywhere we finally headed distressed to the lost baggage claim.
We had arrived at 3pm local time at Casa-airport, our original plan before the baggage-problems had been to take the train to Marrakech the same evening.
We finally left the airport at 8pm but had to head for Casa city instead to sleep over, as we saw a chance to get the lost bag the next day
Visiting the airport had been fruitless so we gave up the idea to ever see the bag again and left to theMedinato buy new clothes for Daniela(Most of her clothing had been in the lost bag).
We had to take the late evening train to Marrakech as we where not allowed to take our bikes with the afternoon express-trains leaving every hour.
The wait for the train(Which arrived 2 hours late) was an inspiring experience for me, as we had a long conversation with the cargo-workers who where waiting next to us to load/unload the train.
My french was much better than i had expected and we managed to have a meaningful conversation with them to the point that i was entertaining the whole group by explaining our misery at the airport(With the help of my hands and feet).
One of the workers was originally from the Anti-Atlas area explained how good-natured and honest the people there where and since this was our main tour-destination we where delighted.