Hanane had only been to the Fes Sais Airport to meet me coming back from flights to Europe and the United States, so she was slightly overwhelmed by Mohammad V Airport in Casablanca. We were both nervous that something would go wrong and they wouldn’t let her board the flight since she’d never used her passport since I got it for her back in early 2009.
We checked in at the Air Arabia desk and weighed our bags. I’d offered Hanane everything I know about packing and traveling light and I was proud to see that her bag weighed in at just 6.6 kilos which allowed her to carry it on. Air Arabia allows you to carry 8 kilos and check one bag of 20 kilos. My bag was 5.5 kilos and so we both carried our bags. We filled out the immigration cards and then went through passport control. Both of us were nervous as she got to the immigration officer. Since we have to carry our marriage certificate with us everywhere we go in Morocco, we had that in my bag. It turns out they didn’t need to see it. In fact, we didn’t have to produce it even one time which was thrilling and exhilarating for both of us. Morocco is a fairly relaxed Muslim country in some ways, but it is also a very rigid and tightly controlled society in others. I felt liberated as we passed through airline security and moved into the departure area.
I changed 2600 dirhams into Euros and got the usual horrible airport rate and ended up with about 220 Euros, thus losing about 400 dirham in the exchange. I hated to do it but didn’t want to arrive in Istanbul with no usable currency since Moroccan dirhams can’t be used anywhere else outside of Morocco.
On the subject of airline security, I’ve never gone through security that was as lax as that at Mohammad V. I forgot to take my phone and cigarette lighter out of my pockets, the buzzer rang and they just told me to keep going. Hanane had a few oversized creme and beauty product items that I’d recommended she not bring, but the guard watching the x-ray machine was busy chatting with a friend and didn’t even look at the screen.
We were both giddy to realize that we were really on our way to Turkey. Air Arabia made me show the credit card I’d bought the tickets with before allowing us to board, and then we got to our seats. I’d reserved a window seat for Hanane since it was her first flight, but they put us in different seats for some reason. Luckily, she quickly made friends with the girl at the window who didn’t mind sharing it with her a bit.
Water, coffee, and everything else cost you in Euros on Air Arabia and you have to pay in cash. I was slightly annoyed when they didn’t have change for our coffee and water. They recommended I order something else, I was just aggressive enough that they figured out how to bring me change.
Hanane was a trooper though landing, takeoff, and turbulence all caused her to nearly hyperventilate in panic. As we got to Istanbul, she and the girl at the window both had their faces plastered to the glass and I felt like I was a time traveler returning to his own time after a sojourn in the dark ages.