Have just recieved this email from Nigel who has finally arrived in The Gambia nearly 50 hours late!
Flight delays and adventures!
Royal Air Maroc mmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!! It is 6.35pm on Monday 25th of July and I should now be on a plane to Casablanca but it has been delayed for 2 hours, so by the time I leave Casablanca for Banjul in the Gambia I should arrive at Banjul airport at about 4am on Tuesday!
So apart from delaying my return flight, Air Maroc have delayed my outgoing flight as well, oh joy! And as I am in the departure lounge I can`t even have a cigar for about the next 8 hours!
So here I am in the Atlas Almohades hotel in downtown Casablanca, when I left Heathrow late yesterday evening Air Maroc forgot to mention that there was no connecting flight to The Gambia until Wednesday evening at 10.30pm!
Not being able to speak French or Arabic, last night (this morning!) was a bit fraught! Spent an hour and a half waiting for my cases only to find out they would be put on tomorrows flight, hopefully!, spent ages at passport control and then ages trying to find out what happens next.
Finally got to bed at 4.15 am and now having had breakfast have been assured by the hotel that Royal Air Maroc are paying, text Kate with details of new flight so all I need to do now is change some sterling into Moroccan whatever’s! And the hotel said they would send someone out to get me a travel plug.
Of course I didn`t bring a travel plug with me as you don’t need one in The Gambia! My phone is running out of charge but netbook is OK at the moment.
11.15 Am. I ventured out to get the plug myself and bought two t shirts, well this is Casablanca and you’ve got to barter!
Had a coffee in the hotel bar with Roberto and Lewis, they were both delayed the same as me and are leaving an hour earlier than me tomorrow.
Roberto is Spanish and speaks French, Italian and very good English, learnt in Scotland! Go figure! Lewis is from Venezuela but now lives in Spain.
They both work in technology and have spent the last month taking 17 different flights throughout Africa!! The phrase TIA, This Is Africa, said with a shrug of the shoulders, cropped up more than once!
Wednesday 27th 9.40am
Out on the town last night with Alberto and Lewis and tried a hash Pipe, I have seen people smoke them in films but never tried it. I hasten to add it only had tobacco in it!
The tobacco is mixed with mint and is very mellow, not at all like I thought.
Everyone in Casablanca seems to smoke them, including to my surprise Women, but then this is a very liberal Muslim society as evidenced by the way a lot of the women dress, let’s just say a lot of window shopping went on last night! Sorry if that sounds sexist but I still have a pulse!!
Finally picked up from the hotel to catch my flight, I was due to leave at 7pm but went on the earlier shuttle bus at 6.30pm, this bus was supposed to arrive at 6pm!
Took off from Casablanca airport at 11.30pm to fly to The Gambia via Guinea! Well this is Air Maroc.
Landed at Guinea at 3.10am whereupon most of the people left the flight, the cleaners arrived to work around us remaining passengers and we were told to check our hand luggage was still there, presumably in case some departing passengers had taken it. A new lot of passengers boarded for Casablanca and we took off at 4am.
Finally we land at Banjul airport about 52 hours after departing Heathrow, funnily enough everyone I have spoken to over the last two days will not be using Royal Air Maroc again!!
Now the process of trying to find my bags which I am certain must have been lost after two days in Casablanca airport, transfer to Gambia flight, stopping at Guinea, and then finally Banjul. But to my great surprise they are there and intact. I just had to explain to some of the customs guys what was in my red roll top bag! I explained that it was full of pens, pencils, crayons etc. and was for school children in The Gambia, they said “we need pens” and “the children come after their fathers” nice try!!
Picked up from airport and taken to Safari gardens hotel, finally hit the sack at 6.50am, oh well I am finally in The Gambia, next time I visit I think it will be easier and quicker to ride my motorbike down through Spain and across the Sahara!
PS all times are GMT, I have since found out that The Gambia is GMT – 1 hour, despite me reading and being told otherwise!