My flight from Malaga to Tangiers left fifteen minutes early yesterday. There was only one man left to board after I had settled in my aisle seat. As soon as he had his seat belt secured we were taxi-ing down the runway. I hurriedly checked my watch as we were due to depart at 16.10 and it as only 15.55 and thought my watch was wrong, but I noticed other passengers doing the same thing. It is only a 45 minute flight and we landed early too.
Really as soon as we were up in the air we seemed to be coming down, or maybe that was because I was sitting beside the most interesting pair of friends. Both had permanent homes in Spain, one only a year or more and the other for about 20 years. The lady sitting next to me was very well travelled and indeed had been taken to Morocco as a chid of six years. Her love of the country was evident as she had furnished her Spanish home with many hand made treasures secured during her time living there. She was on a trip to find more such items. She said she didn’t really ‘need’ any more things but ‘want’ was a different matter and she had booked a 30 kg case in the hold for her return trip.
Tangiers is a small airport and I had forgotten about the form you have to complete as soon as you enter the airport and had no pen in my handbag. I must remember to have one on me for the return journey as you have to complete another form on exiting the country. There were many other people like me and thankfully those who came equipped with a writing implement waited patiently whilst the borrower had completed his or her form. It is only personal details, name, name at birth, passport number, destination and where you are staying and reason for the visit.
When you go through security the official checks the form and stamps your passport. (I am running out of pages on mine and I only renewed it two years ago so I will have to stay home a bit more.) Next you collect your luggage and everything has to go through another security x-ray system.
The currency is dirhams and I changed money straight away although the girl at the exchange counter tried to sell me a credit card so I could get a better rate. Apparently you get a better rate if you use one of the exchange shops in the cities or so I have been advised. I really don’t know.
There were very few people when I got through to the area where there are cafes and shops which was strange and different from my last visit. Two years ago there were lots of people waiting for family and friends. Luckily I walked outside to sit on a bench. On the other side of an open area I could see small white marquees and people standing. Vehicles were parked along the road and officials were guarding an entrance to what was the previous car parking area and drop off point.
I didn’t expect my daughter-in-law or cab driver to be there as we had landed about thirty minutes earlier than the expected time. However the cab driver is a wise and experienced man and had insisted on collecting my daughter-in-law earlier than she planned. He knew this flight often lands ahead of time. Have you ever heard of a flight leaving early?
I was busy taking photographs when I heard my name called and realised they were waiting for me. Security is so tight that no-one is allowed to enter the open area beyond the road other than people who are actually travelling.
So we set off on our hour’s trip across the mountains to Tetouan. It was a beautiful evening and the Moroccans were out in force making the most of it. They were sitting on grassy knolls in the sunshine on the mountain sides and on grass covered areas as we got closer to the city. Families were walking along the roads as whole families and everyone seemed to be out enjoying the sunshine.
I haven’t seen my granddaughter here since she was one and she was three last October so I had a lot of time to make up. I came armed with a beautiful pink princess dress determined to make a lasting impression. And I did, but more of that another time.