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O Fim duma Viagem

Flying Back Home

MOROCCO | Friday, 1 August 2014 | Views [423]

At 3 AM my alarm went off and I forced myself out of bed and through my morning routine. Then I looked down and realized that they looked the same way they had the night before- long and unpainted. Natasha had been disapproving of this, so I'd asked if she would be happy if I painted them. She'd said she would be.

I knew that I'd received nail polish in the welcome bag from IES, and I was pretty sure about roughly where it would be. After minimal rummaging through my bag, I found the nail polish and painted my nails. But it was 3:30 in the morning and I was impatient. I was mostly packed, but there were some things that I'd used the night before and still needed packing. So I tried to use my hands before my nails were dry. This resulted in smudged and ugly nails that convinced everyone in the program I had no idea how to paint my nails.

My host family was still awake (they had another meal before the sun rose) so I shuffled my bags into the hallway outside the room and said goodbye to them. My host mother gave me a bag and made an eating motion, and I tried to place it in my carry-on gently enough that it wouldn't get crushed. Then I thanked them again several times, said goodbye, and got my suitcases downstairs and out the door.

I hate doors that lock automatically. It feels final and impersonal to close a door behind you, knowing you left the keys on the kitchen table because you're never returning. Even though I handed the keys to my host mother, letting the door close and lock automatically behind me still felt cold and definite. Now I really had to leave Rabat.

I made my way to the Sidi Fatah meeting point. I'd never realized before how much of a hill it is. It's amazing how much of a difference 30 kilograms of suitcases make to even gentle slopes.

The ride to airport was not full of sleep-deprived hilariousness. It was short and full of sleep-deprived silence. We arrived at the airport, paid Abdul, took our bags, and proceeded on to the empty airport. It took about half an hour for them to start checking us into our flight.

We all had concerns about our suitcases being too heavy. Everyone except Nathan had concerns about our suitcases being too heavy. There weren't any scales around (I checked) but we did go around trying to lift everyone's bags. Megan's was heaviest, then mine, then Natasha and Cynthia's. So if Megan's bag was underweight, the rest of us were fine.

I was the first person to check in for the flight. My bag was 23.2 kilograms. It could be 23. Fortunately, the man checking it in let me get away with it without any complaint. I put my second checked bag there, then got my boarding pass and left, to the confusion of the others.

“You checked a second bag?” Natasha asked. “Without paying?”

“It was included in my ticket.”

“Are you business class or something?”

“Um... premium economy.”

Between then and the time I landed in Chicago, they gave me such a hard time for flying premium economy. I'm pretty sure the price difference between that and regular economy had been $1. It had definitely been less than $10.

We went on to passport control. I was the first person t go froward, but the last to finish. (Once people showed up to do their job, the quietness of the airport worked to our advantage.) The man checking my passport and tickets had difficulty reading my writing (only my address in Morocco. At which point what does he still care? 'Actually, I was homeless the entire time I was here. What are you going to do now that I'm leaving?' He was also rather skeptical about Chicago being my final destination.)

I emerged from that to security. Cynthia made a point of being in front of me, since she didn't want to be accused of having my scissors. This time, the woman checking the bags did ask me to take them out and show them to her. She then inspected them with a frown and handed them back, telling me that I should check them next time. But for now, I could keep them. Awesome.

We found our gate, then went to get coffee. At least Natasha, Nathan, and Cynthia did. I had no more dirhams left, so I was dependent on the coffee they would serve on the plane. Natasha ordered a cappuccino and got something with chocolate she eventually figured out was a mocha.

By this point, she'd moved on to the singing section of tiredness. So she started singing everything that she was thinking. “What is the capital of Estonia? I don't know that , because I'm not premium economy. If I could afford premium economy, I would know things like that.” If she'd been like that on the bus ride over, it would have been a lot more fun.

For no rational reason, my mind has the idea that the flight between Paris and Rabat is one hour long. The reality (around 3 hours provided there aren't delays) has come as a continual disappointment.

 By the time we got through security and such, we had a bit over half an hour before boarding for the next flight began. I went to find a bookstore (I was most of the way through Ivanhoe and didn't want to run out of fiction on the flight, after all my valiant efforts to keep myself reading about other people's lives for the past four weeks.) We were between flights and subdued. At 1:00 it was time for us to start boarding, so I said goodbye to Nathan, Megan, and Cynthia, and Natasha and I went to our gat (which was the next one over) and onto the airplane.

 Premium economy was not as nice as business class. I still had plenty of leg room (I was in the front of the section. I had no seat in front of me to put my stuff under, but I could stretch out my legs) and slightly better food than the rest of the plane. It just felt like something was missing. That “something” may have merely been the excitement of starting a new adventure.

 Flying east over the Atlantic is weird, because you pretty much stay in the same time zone. So the sun remained a constant level of “blinding unless you cover the window the entire way back. I tried, unsuccessfully, to sleep. I wanted so badly to wake up and find that there were only 3 or 4 hours left in the flight, but I had no such luck. So I kept forcing myself to read, because that was the only way I could forget the time.

 I finished Ivanhoe and moved on to Tess of the D'Urbervilles. (I'd been debating between that and The Mayor of Casterbridge. I'd settled it by reading the first sentence of each and making my choice from that. The only thing I learned is that Thomas Hardy has long, dull, and way too similar first lines. [Tess of the D'Urbervilles: On an evening in the latter part of May a middle-aged man was walking homeward from Shaston to the village of Marlott, in the adjoining Vale of Blakemore, or Blackmoor.” The Mayor of Casterbridge: “One evening of late summer, before the nineteenth century had reached one-third of its span, a young man and woman, the latter carrying a child, were approaching the large village of Weydon-Priors, in Upper Wessex, on foot.”]) They made an announcement that the videos weren't working, so even if I could have figured out how to get my personal screen out of the armrest, it wouldn't have made any difference.

 After the plane came to a complete stop and I could carefully (since items my have shifted during the flight) retrieve my bag from the overhead compartment I got off the plane and waited for Natasha. “Do you smell that?” I asked.

 She smiled, remembering the joke we'd come up with a few days earlier. “It smells like freedom.”

 Really, though, it just smelled like an airport. If I tried hard, I could maybe trick myself into believing I smelled the familiar scent of home.

Tags: airplanes, airports, endings, flying, reading, travelling

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