I’ve addressed my date screw-up regarding Morocco in my post about my shock at Charleroi. I did erroneously make a reservation for the week of March 6-13, but I caught that mistake when the confirmation came back, and immediately modified my online booking and wrote the property (Amour d’Auberge, a hostel in the Medina section of Marrakech) to be sure they would have the right dates for me.
Meanwhile, I was looking into airport transfers. I was going to arrive well after midnight, so I thought I should pre-arrange a transfer to the hostel. I read a number of blogs about traveling in Morocco, with special attention to blogs written by solo female travelers. Somewhere among all those articles I gleaned that properties in the Medina, where I had booked, were likely to be on narrow passageways that cars cannot enter. I checked further and found out that was the case for my place. I was in touch with an economical service that seemed professional, and their agent confirmed that I would have to be dropped in the main square – and that their driver would not be able to leave the car and walk me further. Then, while I was in Brussels, a hostel roommate who is studying in Morocco told me I should not consider walking alone with my suitcases at all, and that being accompanied on the street is essential. Who am I to argue; I welcome advice from people with recent, local experience. So, while I had initially turned down the hostel’s offer to arrange a transfer, as being quite overpriced, I ended up conceding there was no option, since only by booking with them would they send someone out to meet me at the car and walk me to the door.
Now, one of the reasons I chose this hostel was their page on booking.com showing check-in around the clock. I figured they were used to accommodating these middle-of-the-night flight arrivals. Seemed reasonable to me. The awkward thing was booking a room, as I would arrive on the 6th – that is, after midnight – but of course the room night and rate would belong to the 5th, I would expect – unless they really are such an around-the-clock operation. I noted my arrival as about 2 am on the 6th.
You’re ahead of me already, right? You know where this is going. Arrived at the airport, no car for me. I had bought a Moroccan sim card in the terminal and had it initiated, so I called the hostel. They were planning to send a car for me the next night. I pointed out that as of midnight the date was the 6th, and it would not have been correct for me to order a car for the 5th. Further, I had been clear in several messages that I was arriving around 2 am this night.
It got worse immediately. There was no room for me, place was full. Get another room and come tomorrow night, the man said. What!?! Two a.m. – and past, now – without knowing the area, I should manage to find a place that would actually answer the phone at this hour, and check me in? Not bloody likely, I thought. Of course I also worried about what that might cost, as the likeliest properties were surely the major international chains and the business-oriented properties around the airport. And I’d have another transfer. There was no re-entry allowed to the airport terminal; I had the impression they were about to close it for the night, as police were ushering people out and hardly anyone was left inside. I’d be standing on the sidewalk making calls? I reacted forcefully. Told him he could not leave me on the street, that no matter there was no room, no bed, no shower, he should let me in to at least sit in the lobby till the morning. If he would review our correspondence he would see I had been quite clear. (Once I’d corrected March to February!) I also insisted he meet me wherever he would tell my taxi to leave me. He yielded. Too tired to argue? I certainly wasn’t.
We arrived; the hostel was dark and quiet. He showed me I could stay upstairs on a balcony, and he offered to fetch me a cover, but it was around 50F and I had my coats, thought I was warmly enough dressed, and I didn’t want to be further bother. It was obvious that all this had interrupted his sleep and I realized he’d have to be up early. So I told him I was fine. And for a while I was. I did not know it would drop to about 30F in the next couple of hours. And sunrise wasn’t before 8 am. I was freezing. I’d had a sore throat the day before in Brussels, so that I’d given up seeing a friend. Thought I wasn’t congested but the landing was painful and I was rather deafened for the first couple of days in Marrakech. This first miserable night of cold and exposure unfortunately set the tone for too much of my stay.