Sunday, August 2, 2015

Africa-Europe 2015 Day 41. Marrakech to Casablanca to Frankfurt

For some evil reason, Morocco chooses the end of Ramadan to spring the clock forward one hour, so I didn’t get much sleep before my alarm went off at 2 am (now 3 am), to give me time to shower, dress, and walk to the train station for my 4:45 am train to Casablanca. I actually got there at 4 am, but better early than risking missing the train. My plan is to go to the main station in Casablanca, and from there take a taxi to the airport (for about US $30). I am a bit worried because I don’t have enough dirhams left for the taxi, so I am going to have to pay the fee half in local currency and half in euros.

Fortunately for me, when I got in the train, I found myself sharing the cabin with a chatty woman, whom I asked if there was a train connection to the airport. Yes, she said, but you need to get out in a small and practically unknown station in the outskirts of Casablanca, where you can then take the local train to the airport. It was a very pleasant 3-hour trip to Casa, and my new friend, attentive as she was to my needs, made sure I got off at the right place. If I have omitted saying this before I will say it now: Moroccans are the friendliest people, and I will always remember them with fondness and appreciation.

The train ticket cost measly 40 dirhams, so now I have about 150 extra dirhams to burn at the airport! Furthermore, I only had to wait 20 minutes for the train, so by 9 am I was ready to check in for my noon flight to Frankfurt. Easy piecey!

I landed in Frankfurt at 6:30 pm, and no sooner had I stepped out of customs that I saw the tall form of my dear friend Gustav, holding two beers to welcome me into Deutschland. He had it all planned: We were to have dinner at a restaurant near his house, where they have excellent Apfelwein. Now, I happen to like Apfelwein, and it is wonderfully refreshing in a warm afternoon like this one was, but I have memories of associated overeating whenever we had gone for a glass, so I determined that this time I was just going to nurse a half pint and have a light dinner.

Once we got to the restaurant Gustav ordered two pints, and Handkäse mit Musik (a hand-molded cheese with onions and cumin that is reputed to make you pass gas sonorously, hence the “music”), in what was but the beginning of a slippery slope. Shortly thereafter Christine and the rest of the group started to arrive, and eventually we had the merry company of Gustav and Christine, their grownup children Anna and Phillip, Frank and Andrea, their daughter Alisa, and yours truly. Get a group of happy Germans together (and a willing Mexican) and you have the perfect conditions for eating and drinking indulgence. Of course Gustav knew the owner, and of course we had to go to the cellar to do some Apfelwein tasting, and what would an evening like this be without tasting the Brandwein distilled by the patron in his free time!

By the time we got home my stomach was in furious rebellion, so to quiet it down we sat in the backyard porch with Christine and her new dog Leo, and Gustav promptly produced two enormous glasses of Bordeaux wine to accompany the evening conversation. Leo is a cross between a poodle (it must have been the biggest poodle that ever existed!) and a cocker spaniel; he is a nice shaggy dog that likes to squat flat in the floor, in a perfect impersonation of a shaggy Afghan carpet. It is nice to be home!

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