SWILA: Morocco chronicles; the thrill and spills
Isaac Swila in Berkane, Morocco
Naturally, a trip to a new foreign destination exicites us; doesn’t it?
Well, when the opportunity to travel to Berkane, Morocco to cover the CAF Confederations Cup second leg quarter-finals tie between RS Berkane and Kenya’s glamour club Gor Mahia arose, I couldn’t help but fancy the thrill.
New culture. New language. New people! The thrill of networking were aplenty. So on Wednesday April 10, 2019 at around 2100hrs I take a taxi to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to be there in time for this trip.
Remember my last experience with JKIA wasn’t a pleasant one. Twenty minutes late I missed my flight and paid a Sh10,000 fine to be booked in the next available flight, the destination then was Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
So on Wednesday, a pretty warm evening, and I am here on time. Off I get the mandatory clearance procedures out of my way and at exactly 0035hrs, the Qatar Airlines flight roars into the dark Nairobi skies.
After a six-hour flight we are in the Qatari capital. Doha doesn’t disappoint. It lives up to its billing; the airport is indeed world class.Warm and professional personnel at every desk .It is also very busy airport.
Despite being the wee hours of the night, passengers from all corners of the world are either rushing to their designated gates to catch flights to other world capitals – their respective destinations- or are busy sipping coffee at the numerous cafeteria that litter this facility.
Others, their departure time hours away, get engrossed into their laptops spread before them.
With minimal layover time, I quickly make my way to my boarding gate. Along the way I run into my colleague at Royal Media Services, Hot96 presenter Shiks Kapyenga. She is the company of comedian Jackline Nyaminde aka Wilbroda and an unidentified female colleague. I gather we’d been on the same flight from Nairobi.
After a few pleasantries, I excuse myself, my mind focused on catching the flight to Casablanca as they leave for Greece.
Doha is a beautiful city with some impressive skyscrapers jostling for its aerial space. The birds view aboard the plane makes it a must visit destination for holiday makers and lovers.
As I figure what it has taken the Qatari government to put up such a wonderful airport, I quickly recall that this is the city that will be hosting the 2022 World Cup finals.
They seem well prepared for it at least from the little I saw. The road network is not only extensive but impressive to boot, and the souls warm. There are also a good number of Kenyans working at their magnificent airport, making me conclude that Kenyans being the enterprising and aggressive lot must be here in their numbers.
My next flight, an Airbus, is a behemoth of a plane. To say that it’s beautiful is an understatement! New and modern, the exterior and interior is eye-catchy. The two aisle make it quite comfortable; the 10 rows of seats notwithstanding.
In my projection we could have been over 500 aboard the plane, mainly Europeans and Arabs. Blacks are below 10 in number, myself included. The flight from Doha to Casablanca is pleasant though long as we had to fly through the Middle East then to Europe flying on Spain and and Italy’s airspace through the Mediterranean Sea and finally docking in Casablanca.
A trip that would be much shorter made much longer. But up-to this point I am not complaining as the food served aboard is equally mouth-watering! My seat mates — two mature men, probably in their late forties – are a Chinese to my right and a European to my left. They are well groomed, look well travelled, polished and generally doing well in life.
The urge to take a “selfie” with them is strong but I suppress this feeling. I say to myself: “These must be top expatriates, used to travelling the world, asking for a “selfie” would be stooping too low”, so I let go.
In the course of the flight we strike a conversation with the European and I Iearn he’s Spaniard, gentlemanly in demeanor.
Our arrival at Casablanca International Airport is heartwarming to say the least. The long journey (so far I’ve clocked 17 hours) is soon coming to an end; I’m pleased at the thought. I go through the mandatory security check procedures at the Passport Control and then begin to bid my time for the connecting flight to Oudja Airport, the last leg of my safari.
The layover period should be six hours but it takes up to eight. By this time I am tired, hungry and weary. I take advantage of this time to buy myself a local sim-card and exchange the dollars that I have to local currency. With the transit flight delayed, gallons of coffee come in handy. By the time I leave Casablanca for Oudja Airport (pronounced Usda) it’s 2am Friday. After the one-hour flight we land at Oudja, I clear with the security check, dash for my luggage at the baggage belt, and exit.
At the waiting bay, it’s quite chilly with a few taxi men prying for customers, my eye quickly makes contact with a middle aged man, the driver advanced by Melia Saidia Beach Resort to pick me up .He’s with the company branded vehicle and it’s 3am by now, the drive long but smooth to the hotel. Keep it here for Part Two of my travel chronicles tomorrow.