Ah. So nice being able to travel in September this year because I don't have to work on the j2 budget EVER AGAIN. Ah. I have my feet up as I type this. Milton Rodriguez and Chris Kim probably don't. Never heard of them? Exactly.
My alarm went off at 8am on the 4th, but I'm pretty sure I didn't fall asleep until about 7:25am. That's when I had a dream that my brother and I were comparing old coins. He had a beer glass that had an 1895 Morgan dollar in its base, and I had what I thought was a 1916 Mercury dime but it turned out to be an older penny.
Left my apartment 9:30am, caught the 9:42am Red Line train, got to Union Station 10:08am, FlyAway bus left for LAX 10:33am. Smooth timing.
Two girls on the bus were talking--one Aussie, both sibilant. Their voices were pleasant and gave me tingles. Two unpleasant-sounding guys behind me complained: "Girls always have a lot to talk about...blah blah blah...guys just keep it to 'How are you?'" No, only LA douchebags ask such empty questions and pretend to care about the answer because they fear offending people with silence. Actual guys with brains and balls have interesting conversations. Also, Shut The Fuck Up so I can listen to these girls talk.
Ew! I saw a toenail on the floor of the bus. Ew! I still don't understand if people intentionally plan to cut their nails in public to make overly-efficient use of (for example) a half-hour bus ride, or if they keep clippers on their person at all times and whip them out if they get bored or suddenly sense that their nails have exceeded a length threshold.
Got to LAX 11:14am, dropped my bag 11:30am, through screening 11:43am. My passport says "We the People" in large font opposite the photo page, and I'm tempted to put my hand over my heart and say that in a loud clear voice. And I wonder what would happen if Zeb Colter opened his passport and found that "We the People" had been surreptitiously changed to "Русев удря, Русев мачка". He'd probably throw a fit and spin around and hem and haw and whatnot.
Had a beef burrito at Loterķa Grill. Found out Joan Rivers died. I didn't make the traditional death call to LG because I had to preserve my battery. Wow, first the toenail and now Joan. A tragedy-marred trip so far. This is like the dual tragedies on my 2001 Contiki trip when I got a big bruise after falling out of my cabin in Florence, and also 9-11 happened.
Hey, why do restaurants like Loterķa carry Pepsi products but not Mountain Dew? Pepsi is the San Francisco of sodas...#1 it's despicable, and #2 it has a secondary brand (Dew) that's better than than the flagship brand (Pepsi) just like San Francisco has a suburb (San Jose) with more people. Do they get a big discount if Dew isn't included in the package, on top of the steep discount they get in the first place because it's Pepsi and not Coke? And if you prefer Pepsi to Coke, at least be humble enough to recognize that you have a birth defect, like those weirdos who can't eat cilantro/coriander because it tastes like soap or Asians who can't drink alcohol, and please refrain from poisoning the next generation with your defective genes thank you. Bad enough AJ Lee is off the market, but I don't want her popping out a Pepsi baby on top of it.
Ack...the elastic on the left side of my undies is weak. My left ball and ass cheek keep slipping out as I walk through the terminal. And I have to wear this pair for 2 weeks straight. Ha! Not really, just to Casablanca, but it's still a long journey and I should have arranged for more secure packaging.
I got seat 34A. Toilet behind me instead of a seat...perfect. Some dude Cory was next to me but he switched with a girl at the behest of her aunt. Girl was fat and ethnic but cute. Really ethnic, not like when Mr. Burns bemoaned MLB letting "ethnics" like Joe DiMaggio into the game.
Flight departed 1:30pm. Prior to takeoff I aced all the Kenken and Sudoku puzzles in the Delta magainze.
Marina del Rey. I was at a BBQ 3 days ago at that apartment right there at the corner of the 2nd building. Hi Odessa!
Glen Canyon Dam, Arizona. I didn't know what this was at the time but it looked nifty.
I tried to nap most of the time on the flight. Overheard the ethnic fatty say she just graduated from USC, so there was no point talking to her, though I've become less anti-USC after recent and ongoing oncological events.
Arrived at JFK a little after 10pm. We did a long circle ("do the circles, I like the circles") over Long Island and the ocean, and I got a great view of the Manhattan skyline but a photo was impossible. A camera can't focus on dim lights on buildings several miles away, in the dark, through a thick blurry window, from a shaking vehicle. And I love when people try to take such a photo with a fucking flash on top of everything. Dim lights indeed!
Unexpectedly, I had to take the AirTrain from Terminal 4 to Terminal 1 and go back through security. I didn't know this. Didn't know what terminal I was in when I landed. Perhaps the boarding pass or booking procedure could have mentioned this, as it makes a 1hr20min layover much tighter. No signs in the terminal showing which way to other terminals...that's just really bad. I was rushing to make the connection, and all sweaty due to a questionable decision to wear a jacket and jeans for the journey, and just to delay things for another couple seconds they made me take off my shoes and send them through the X-ray machine (why do I have to at JFK and not at LAX now?). I grabbed my shoes off the belt and ran shoeless to the gate like a broad. Get your knees up! The 11:20pm flight was supposed to start boarding at 10:30pm, and it was already 11pm, but they had just made the boarding announcement so I was safe.
For the next flight (Air France, JFK-CDG) I had seat 45A, but it's that bad spot where the plane narrows so instead of A-B-C it's just A-B but with a gap between A and the window. Extra foot space, though. Normal guy sitting next to me. A woman behind us was whining on her phone about missing a flight due to weather and having to pay an extra $1600 to get on this flight, but the seats were visually appealing and that sort of made up for it, and her passport was sweaty and if they couldn't scan it she might not be allowed into France, and "I hurt my head when I fell off a cliff" (that happened to one of my past tourmates and she didn't go nuts like this as a result), and "good thing you worked on my body" (shudder) since she wouldn't have been able to physically handle this flight ordeal otherwise. Normal dude was cracking up, as was I.
Flight left 11:30pm. Flight attendants distributed headphones (in a package with a sleep mask etc.). It was the exact same style of headphone that I found in a box when I was packing last night and couldn't remember where it came from. It must have been from my last Air France flight 10 years ago.
On account of all these French people, I unfortunately have Alouette stuck in my head. "Je te plumerai la bouche" ("I will pluck your mouth") could work as a pickup line.
The itinerary said we were supposed to get breakfast (normal for redeyes to Europe) but for some reason we got dinner. Goat cheese ravioli. I couldn't finish on account of the burrito. Large volumes of gas kept shifting in my intestines to a great cacophony. I couldn't fart because my belt and the seatbelt were blocking key passageways, even after I let that whale out. (Sorry, I was watching my Kids in the Hall DVDs before I left.) If the ethnic fatty was still next to me I would have made a more aggressive attempt to release pressure, but the normal guy didn't deserve it. Again, a weird flight because usually on a redeye the lights go out right away so we can sleep. I had 2 little bottles of red wine, hoping they might help me doze off, but oddly I wasn't sleepy.
Girl in the row in front of me is watching a movie with a horned witch and 3 fairies. What is it? It looks compelling. (Figured out later it's Maleficent.)
Lights out 7:30am Paris time, finally.
I didn't recline my seat, and neither did the guy in front of me. That's how to be civil on an airplane. Fuck all these tall guys who are cramped and have to recline. You get 1000x more pussy than me because you're tall, so you might consider cutting me some slack and not shoving your seat back into my head as well. Plus, how does reclining help with sleep? You lie on your stomach or in a fetal position to sleep. I want a cushioned tray table, not a reclining seat. The only people who like to sleep on their backs are defective fat fucks who snore, and that's reason enough to disable reclining seats.
And then breakfast was served at 11am. Just too much food. Why 2 meals on a 7-hour flight during which we burn 0 calories? I drank the orange juice and left the rest. The tray was served to and taken away from me while I was trying to nap. Maybe it would be better to serve food to a person who actually wants it instead of serving it to me and then throwing it away? Or even better, serving it to a puppy?
My sleep deficiency finally hit me, but I never found a suitable sleeping position, due to my internal pressure.
Arrived in Paris 12:30pm, in Terminal 2E. That's the one that collapsed in 2004, a few days before the last time I was here. It's better now. Paris reminds me of a girl with that name who lived in my dorm in grad school at UCLA, and one day there was a group photo being taken and Paris was sitting behind me and kept squeezing my butt between her feet. She was cute and I should have followed up, but I was less than half my current age and a dork, and even today when a girl shows interest (it happens every couple years) I still get paralyzed with confusion and disbelief.
Uneventful layover in Paris. Took a dump, but the gas movement didn't abate. Flight left ~3:30pm.
Landed in Casablanca 5:30pm (1 hr behind Paris). Through immigration 6pm. Entered Morocco (country #48). I want to link to that Howard Stern kazoo "charge" sound here that is played in recognition of accomplishments. Was worried my bag wasn't coming out because of the tight layover at JFK, and because it was Delta and they're not good with tight layovers (they had my bag for a full week in January, and I got $250 out of them for that, which I applied to this trip). Bag finally came out, not unlike Pat Patterson, though quite a bit more surprising.
After I got my bag out of the X-ray machine at customs I tripped over some corn on the cob. I'd eaten COTC on consecutive days for the first time in my life Sunday and Monday (Black Angus with Mike, BBQ with Stella as depicted above) so this might have been a revenge initiative on the part of corn.
I looked around for an ATM and found one way at the end of the baggage area. Saw a bunch of people at the currency-exchange desks. Suckas! After the ATM I took my jacket off and put it in my big bag and my 2 days of sweaty hell were over.
Made my way to the train station at the airport and bought a ticket for the 6:55pm train into the city (Casa Voyageurs station). Ticket was 40 dh. The Moroccan unit of currency is the dirham (dh), and the exchange rate the day before I left was $1 = 8.48741 dh.
Airport train station.
The train was supposed to take 33 minutes but it stopped a few times so we arrived around 7:45pm. Then from Casa Voyageurs I got on the tram (1 dh for a card + 6 dh per trip). I knew which stop I had to go to (Mohamed Diouri) but had no map so I had to ask the guy. He made a sweeping motion with his hand and said "autre route". I crossed to the opposite platform. My minor in French is finally paying off. Hey, G Adventures didn't mention the existence of this tram thing in the instructions. They recommended a taxi. This is going in my feedback.
Casablanca is a lot better than expected, though the 8pm call to prayer reminds me that this is not Europe. Or is that distinction still valid? Quite a bit more urine and trash than other places I've been.
Got off the tram after 3 stops, then walked with my big bag (my luggage, not my coin purse) for 2 blocks in every direction trying to orient myself. And by that I mean trying to establish a physical sense of location and direction, and not a sexual and psychological one as might result from banging an Oriental chick, because I didn't see any in the area. I thought the hotel was on the other side of the street so I got confused, and the lack of street signs wasn't helping (they're inconsistently posted on buildings like in Europe) but I found the Moroccan House Hotel at 8:30pm. Checked in and was presented with mint tea and cookies. Mint tea is one of the 8 food/drink items I wanted to try on this trip. It was very good. I found out later that not everyone in the group was greeted this way. The G Adventures sheet at reception doesn't have the names of all the group members. I was hoping to guess which nut would reject my friend request, just based on the names. There's one in every group.
My room. The Bed of 1,001 Pleasures. The room isn't anywhere near as glamorous as the web site suggested.
Took my contacts out after 28 hr, brushed my teeth, booster shot of deodorant. Didn't shower because of the planned urban hike tomorrow. Also took a PM pill right away. After 2 nights of no sleep I still had adrenaline, but figured the pill would result in the Sleep of Ages that might get the Kids in the Hall out my system.
I was too thirsty to put my shoes on and go out for bottled water, so I drank from the tap. The hell with it. The effects can't be worse than shitting my bed in Egypt. (I left that part out of my 2003 Egypt travelogue.)
At 10:20pm the streets were filled with loud Arabic music. I could fall asleep to this, oddly. More because of the pleasant sound than because I haven't slept in 3 days. Bed 11pm. I wanted to stay up longer for Internet stuff but my iPad wasn't connecting to the Wi-Fi.