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Casablanca 2014 - Dawid Ceglarek
20-10-2014

My business trip to the arvato Casablanca office had nearly fallen through.

Two weeks before the scheduled departure, when I was watching another episode of my favorite series on a Sunday afternoon I had a brainwave - MY PASSPORT! It was followed by searching for the passport in the drawers of documents, once again searching for it in the drawers of documents, searching for that document on a book shelf, in my closet, in various boxes, then in the bread bin, refrigerator,  and suitcases. It was found a few hours later, unfortunately, due its expiry date it was sort of useless. Anyone wants to know how to receive a new passport under an expedited procedure? Just call me!

The journey from Poznan to Frankfurt brought no major surprises. Flying from Frankfurt to Casablanca I was wondering only about  the captain ‘s level of concentration - it was the day of the final match in the World Cup and our enthusiastic captain was updating the match result every five minutes.

At 1:30 local time we landed at the CMN airport with over an hour of delay. Somewhat stressed out - I was supposed to be picked up from the airport by SOMEONE and I had no idea if that SOMEONE would be still waiting - I am standing at the baggage belt looking for a purple suitcase. 5, 10, 20 minutes - worried that there are no familiar faces around me I approached to an officer for help. It has turned out that my baggage belt is at some other part of the airport (I am 1.30h late ). So I am running to the direction indicated. Another baggage belt, consecutive minutes and no suitcase ... Suddenly I have spotted my suitcase from the Lidle megastore, all wrapped in cellophane. But why in cellophane? Why was it inspected? Who would care when time is of essence (I am 1.40h late). Just grab it and run Forrest run! But why is it wrapped in cellophane??? This obsession is too overwhelming. I stop,  remove the film, open the suitcase and see the following: underwear, curling iron, boxes with support tights. I am trying to close it, but it shuts on the curling iron. I close it once again, and run to the baggage belt. I stoop  and throw the suitcase back on the baggage belt (I am 1.55h late) and leer to find MY suitcase. I come to terms with the prospect of taking a Moroccan taxi. I  even come to terms with the prospect of taking a Moroccan taxi without my baggage. But here it is! My suitcase. I grab it and run (I am 2.10h late ). I am standing in front of a group of indigenous people with labels - I do not see my name on them. Meanwhile, I am approached by several kind helpers who want to sell me phone cards, jewelry, lingerie, and tours. Time goes by so I decide to stand in front of the terminal. Again tours, cards, phones, watches. No thanks. No thanks. I hide myself behind a pillar. It does not help. I grab my suitcase and I want to go to the terminal- the guards do not allow me - no entry. With a trembling hand I take out my cell phone and I hear the voice of my savior - the taxi driver is waiting for me, he apologizes for being late but he went to a wrong terminal.

 

On the way to the hotel he is telling me the history of Morocco and Casablanca - the country is so great, inhabitants are so friendly, the religion is full of tolerance and all people are brothers. I can experience it the hard way when traffic rules do not apply. Everyone is honking at others, carving up the road and there is only one simple rule - first come first. The driver has good reflexes, he is doing great in this anthill of cars. Just in case, I am also slamming on the brakes by pressing my right foot against the chair or my suitcase.

We have finally arrived at the hotel, so I check in, take a shower, have some two hours of sleep and I start the first day of training.

The training is scheduled for two weeks and we will learn how to operate the Amadeus reservation system. The atmosphere is quite intimate, because the group consists of 8 participants. Unfortunately, I have the dubious pleasure of conducting the training course during Ramadan.

Now, everyone who passed through an eight-hour product training, please recall your memories and multiply your weariness, boredom and concentration problems by lack of food and drink from sunrise to sunset. And all this to the power of 32 ° C and - outside the brackets - multiply by a faulty air conditioning. This is exactly how the participants were feeling like.

I did not want to eat and drink myself in such a situation, so I was experiencing “a little Ramadan” in the hours from 08:00 to 17:00. Moreover, cultural differences took its toll - huge absenteeism and the poor motivation.

Nevertheless, we became friends rather quickly. The group was very friendly and understanding, they prepared me a list of places I must see in Casablanca, meals that I should taste and were trying not to laugh, at least some of them, when I turned up with sunburn blisters on my  face after my first weekend on the beach.

The city itself is very interesting and exotic. Gaudy atmosphere - lots of colors and noise . It was, however, difficult to get used to the omnipresent poverty and highly visible social contrasts - slums next to modern, rich architecture, shoeshine boys and beggars next to rich Moroccans bejeweled with gold chains. Pretty soon I had learned that to survive, one should count the change and after getting into a taxi ask for switching on the taximeter or ask for the price beforehand. I can recommend to everyone, especially in the summer, air-conditioned tram tours as a way to explore the city.

One thing is clear - Casablanca has nothing to do with the city known from the cult film of the same title (by the way, the film was shot in the vicinity of Los Angeles). Comparing it to our country -it’s more Szczecin than Wroclaw . Yet, I will be glad to travel again to that or similar city! My passport is valid until 2014! :)

 

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