Monday, May 14, 2012

Remembering a mission: The flights and arrival

May 13-14 – The flights

            We flew Royal Air Maroc from JFK International Airport to Casablanca, Morocco. We were each given blankets, pillows, and eye covers for sleeping – free of charge. We were served a hot dinner after we took off and breakfast just before we landed. As expected, it wasn’t a comfortable night’s sleep. We arrived tired, and trucked along following Nana, our classmate from Mali. She had worked out a deal to have us spend some complimentary time at the airport hotel in Casablanca during our 15 hour layover. We had spent time relaxing, sleeping, and eating.

            We took off for Bamako at 2:00 a.m. on what seemed to be a clear night. As we continued on our 3 hour flight, the weather took a dramatic turn. The wind cause the plane to rock and the downpour was torrential. There was a bit of terror in our eyes as we landed – the bumpiest landing I’ve experienced on a pitch black night. Nana assured us “it’s always like that, it’s because it’s too hard to see the runway in the rain and there aren't that many lights.” I guess this was the norm here. 

           By the time we arrived we were hungover from exhaustion only to discover we couldn't communicate with anyone. It was a zoo trying to use one individual - Nana - to do all our translating while trying to find out what happened to our luggage. Not only were all of our personal luggage and medical supplies completely soaked through, but a few bags never made it on the flight. We were all crazed running around trying to put leaky bags on the luggage wagons, each weighing 50lbs dry, and to keep track of exactly what we were missing. As a plan was finally developed about getting the lost bags, we shoved into a bus with what we had, sitting on top of each other, and began the trek to our volunteer housing…


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