Handling the Glitches

A busy two days upon arrival in Morocco have prevented my sitting down to write a first report on our current trip. Regrettably, too many of our recent trips back and forth have been characterized by frustrating occurrences. An unnamed family member has suggested that any Kelley trip will have its share of “glitches.” We never anticipate or plan for them; they just happen. Of course, they must be dealt with in real time and often involve adjustments of schedule and/or agenda. The first leg of our trip from Birmingham went swimmingly, and we arrived in Atlanta with plenty of time to make our flight. Denise connected with our travel partner, Rosemary, and we gratefully settled into our “extended comfort” economy class seats. We pushed back from the gate, taxied to the runway and had received a message from the pilot that we were in the queue for departure. Then it happened! In the seats immediately behind me and Denise we overheard a conversation that essentially asked, “Are you too sick to make this flight”? A request for water to the flight attendant had been made, and as the agent approached, we heard the husband say, “She has passed out.” It’s not that we did not want to be compassionate, but we were ready to take off, and a return to the gate would mean we would likely miss our connecting flight in Paris.

Thankfully, the passenger regained consciousness within a minute or so, a physician passenger checked the woman and offered his opinion that she not travel, and indeed we turned around and headed for the gate. As you probably know, the gate just vacated is utilized almost immediately, and thus the process of deplaning a couple of passengers involved some waiting and required just over an hour. Arriving in Paris some eight hours later but an hour behind schedule, about ten of us with tickets to Casablanca were met by a Delta/Air France agent to escort us at warp speed through the maze that is Charles de Gaulle Airport. A much younger man than we, he tested our ability to keep up with the group. Nonetheless, we were able to make it and find our scattered seats on the last leg of our journey, even though we were fairly certain the next glitch would be the non-arrival of our baggage at same time we did. Our fears were confirmed after an almost interminable wait in the Passport Control line at Mohamed V Airport. Each year we promise ourselves that we shall pay whatever is necessary to have a final destination other than Casablanca, but the economic benefit always seems to convince us that the next time will be better. From touch down to entering the baggage claim area required almost two hours. The carousel with the baggage from Paris was empty, and our bags were not there. Another glitch to be handled! The office that handles delayed or lost baggage took our information and assured us they would do everything humanly possible to have our bags arrive that night.

They offered the tantalizing possibility that the bags would be on the last flight of the evening from Paris. Given all the delays upon arrival, we had the option of waiting another 90 minutes to see if that happened, or taking a taxi into town and then having to make a return trip. Since the trip is about an hour each way we opted to wait. Dealing with the frustration did try my patience at times. For example, in gathering our information, the clerk who was obviously a trainee, asked if I would give her my permanent address and phone number in the states. I told her yes, but asked why that would be helpful. She said, “so that we can contact you.” My reply was, “Look, I am here! I won’t be there to accept any message.” Another failure to communicate. Believe it or not, the bags showed up on that last flight. We managed to engage a Grand Taxi that could handle all the extra baggage we had carried with us for the projects in the villages south of Marrakech, and we even managed to get to our rooms before midnight. By that time, twenty seven hours had elapsed since we left home and we did not have to catch our train to Marrakech until about eleven the next morning. Another glitch handled and the busy next two days provided a much more redemptive view of what we had dealt with earlier. I look forward to being able to be much more positive in my reporting!

Fred
May 16, 2016 Fes, Morocco

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