February 17, 2011 § 2 Comments
Ingolf zipped 7-month old Maximilian zipped into his jacket. The three of us stepped out of their apartment and down the stairs to the metro across the Casino Supermarche. I followed my couchsurfing host into Lyon’s historic district:
Exhausted after having spent the night in the Casablanca airport, we came back to quintessential German cuisine: meat, potatoes, and cabbage. The next morning I thanked the German couple and their baby that hosted me and breezed through a 2 metro transfers and a tram back to the airport. If France lacks pragmatism in its immigration policies, it finds it in its extremely sensible public transportation system. But efficiency or no, I was still mentally in tune with unhurried Moroccan time, and I waited at the airport for 4 hours until Louis got there. And then the drive back to Morocco began:
Louis had printed the directions in German and I, the copilot, stammered through the Ausfarht E15 and richtung A7 until we reached Narbonne. After a night’s rest and a nutritious hotel breakfast, we crossed into Spain and didn’t stop until Barcelona. From there, we headed to Madrid for the night. Sometime around ten, we met Louis’ friend for dinner. Alberto, a bored Spanish colonel who desperately wants to be deployed to Afghanistan bought us dinner and let us stay in his 4 bedroom apartment in downtown Madrid. After a dinner at the typical Spanish hour of nearly 11pm, we took a drive through downtown for some sightseeing but my eyes were heavier than a Somali pirate’s prison sentence, and I feel asleep. At 6am, Louis woke me up and told me to be quick “like army”. I was still half asleep as we followed the M-30 toward Granada on our final leg. We drowned out the rain by singing to each other and talking about home. Louis assigned me to be the echo to a Cameroonian song in his mother tongue. Too many bocadillo con queso’s later, we arrived in Tarifa, a popular crossing point. Our otherwise problem-free trip met one snag there. We failed to realize that the downpour making peacock feather droplets on the windshield might likewise affect the sea. For a few hours we paced the shipyard while the company waited out the storm and decided whether to cross or not. There was a last-minute scuffle to switch companies and board the last ship out, but we were able to cross. It wasn’t exactly “smooth sailing” from there. In fact, given the suitcases that slid across the passenger deck, hitting our table and spilling a Redbull all over me, it was some of the roughest sailing I’ve ever experienced. Here’s from before we got too far out to sea:
When we arrived in Tanger, it wasn’t only the car with 2500km that needed some grease. A man at the control wanted a bribe, which Louis refused. Someone else wanted to look through everything in the vehicle and would have if Louis had not protested, knowing his rights as a diplomat. They handed us back the papers we needed and we were on our way. At the final passport check at the exit of the port, we were surprised to find we had been given the title to someone else’s car. We turned around and once we were out of sight of that check, a group of 5 young men, ostensibly working for the ferry company but not wearing any type of uniform or identification, asked us for our tickets. As Louis unrolled the window to show him his mistaken papers, they started surrounding the car. I said, “Louis, take the paper and drive!” We sped away, but they still tried to direct us toward a “ferry line” which was really into a dark corner. When we were back in the actual ferry and immigration zone, Louis went to straighten out the papers and I locked myself in the car, with my eyes glued on the mirrors. The group receded into the shadows of some building, waiting for the next passersby.