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The End of Travel Karma as I Knew It

For somebody who has had a long run of decent travel karma, for the first time that I can remember I experienced some severe travel angst. In the last two days, all kinds of things went wrong. Don’t worry, everything is fine. I think I’ve just hit the bottom after a long run of very good luck.
After a heinous ride to the airport through Ankara’s snowy, curvy, and steep streets where my taxi skidded several times and almost hit a plow, I realized when boarding the plane to Istanbul that I had left my passport on my scanner at home. For a $300 penalty and a round-trip taxi fare to my flat, I was able to rebook my flight.
We had two aborted take-offs before we were sky-borne on the flight to Istanbul. Instead of my beloved Turkish Airlines, the Istanbul-Casablanca leg was on Royal Air Maroc. My plane was packed with smelly, pushy passengers yelling over the seats to each other with great excitement. I was relieved when two Turks sat in my row – I wouldn’t have to spend the whole flight breathing into my perfumed protection scarf and pretending that I was anywhere else. Actually, these guys were really friendly and gave my Turkish a great workout with several hours of pleasant conversation.
I arrived in Casablanca after dark and we left the next morning as the sun was rising, so I didn’t get to see very much of the city. The sky was beautiful, though, and we had a glorious sunrise while taking pictures of Hasan II Mosque. It’s the largest in Africa and has the tallest minaret (300 m) in the world. The shape and design reminded me of Moorish-influenced Southern Spain.
When packing for my trip, the extent of my research involved thinking: Morocco is a hot desert, but it’s winter, so I should bring a pair of actual shoes (instead of just sandals) and some long sleeves. Oops. The forecast this week calls for 50-60F and rain. While visiting Meknes, an old imperial city, and Volubilis, the ruins of a Roman City, we got drenched! On the plus sides, the mosaics at Volubilis are probably more beautiful with the rain constantly keeping them clean and shiny.
The down-side is that I think my camera is shorted out, so it’s unclear if I’ll take anything better than iPhone pics for the rest of the trip. I’ve been thinking about getting a new camera for a year, but since there wasn’t anything wrong with the one I have, I’ve held back. So, unless I can get the soaked one to work again, I can finally treat myself to a new machine!
Last night after cleaning all the mud off my shoes and pants, I stuffed towels into them to absorb as much water as possible. This morning, I’ve been using the hair dryer in burst cycles until it overheats to at least dry out the insides of my shoes. I have wool socks, which are supposed to keep you warm even while wet – looks like today I get to test out that theory.
After freezing on the bus, when we got tot the hotel in Fez, I took a hot shower to warm up, a nap to calm down, and then headed out to find an ATM. Then the machine ate my card! The guide lent me money for dinner and drinks, and this morning before we head into the medina I’ll see if the bank can extract my card and if I can still get money off of it.
As I write this, I realize that nobody died, and I’m not sick or unable to continue the trip. it’s just been one small annoying problem after another. Today I’m hoping for some pleasant positive experiences, a little sunshine and warmth, and access to my money. I’ll let you know how it goes.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Patrick Redmon #

    Dear Sarah: Your tourist/travel Karma was certainly a bit out of kilter, but it sounds like the shower at the hotel DID have hot water? If not, that would have been a complete disaster. Not sure what the hell I’d do if an ATM machine – in a foreign country!! – ate my bank card. Please let me know how that one turns/turned out just in case I suffer the same fate in the future… Royal Air Maroc? I am having flashbacks to the spring of 2000 when I was sitting on a large, twin turbo prop on the flight line in Tirana, Albania. The plane was a complete rust bucket, “hanger queen” from some old Soviet Union commercial airline company that now called themselves Albania International or some other ridiculous name. In any event, I was glued to the left side window as I watched some dude climb up on an old metal set of stairs (the kind with wheels that rolled up next to the plane), open the engine cover on the left wing and POUR A BUCKET OF NASTY, BLACK OIL INTO THE CASING! No kidding. It was a gray, metal “mop bucket” that one would use to swab the floors. Thought for sure I was gonna die that day! (ha ha) And, yes, the ride was probably as loud and smelly as your lift to Casablanca. 🙂 Glad to see you have maintained the “ain’t no one bleeding” outlook on things. Be well, be safe and I can’t wait to hear if the trip got better.

    January 16, 2013

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