Bienvenue à Al Maghrib, Pt. 1


I had not slept for the past twelve hours, and in between cramming my head in the little space between my chair and the window and trying to ignore the small child that was yelling sporadically through the whole flight, I was weary. The roar and vibration of the turbine engines were barely concealed by the little window cover. It rattled my brain to keep my head against the wall for too long, and I repeatedly adjusted my neck pillow and the red blanket provided by the airline. At one point, I contemplated just wrapping the blanket around my whole head.

It was a mundane and nightmarish problem. Never again will I covet the window seat on an overnight international flight; I was going to go mad. The flight seemed full of feverish shadows and dim overhead reading lights that burned the back of my retinas, the cough and sighs of faceless passengers, the soft shake that reminded me I was flying above the clouds at cruising altitudes. My listless mind wondered what my purpose for this journey was anyways. After all, this was my third flight, and sitting on the planes and sitting at the terminals had slowly chipped away at my enthusiasm.

That small child let out another yell that almost sounded like the cry of a deranged tropical bird.

Time seemed absent in the pressurized cabin, but eventually, signs of life began to appear. I had opened the window cover and peered out into a dark gray haze. There was the faintest of yellow lines far in the distance, the weak outline of the horizon. Frost has formed on the bottom of the glass. Excruciatingly slow and then building up speed, dawn came. The Atlantic Ocean had unfolded itself beneath the rising sun, the calm gray spilling over the edges of the world, clouds lingering over the ripples of a new day gently shimmering. It was the twenty-third, a Tuesday – the first day of all of my firsts to come on this adventure.

First international flight. First time flying over the Atlantic. First time being outside of the country. First time realizing that there is no going back to what I had left behind.

The Atlantic was still all I could see when the pilot announced over the intercom that we were preparing for the land, and should arrive in about fifteen minutes. The plane banked to the side and down, into the clouds, and when we came back out, the ocean was gone and replacing it was an expanse of browns and veiny  rural roads, small green pockets of trees, and the shadows of clouds dappling everything graciously.

I was in Morocco.

Where I had grown up in the US, in the Midwest, being at this altitude and looking down, you would see the various patches of green forests and farmland. In the countryside heading towards Casablanca, one sees squares of cinnamon and chocolate and bread left in the toaster for too long by your younger sister. The trees are dark and small and the air contains a slightly dusty hue.

It was a lofty view and contained an arid beauty.

I was in Morocco.


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