Staging

Back dated 9\12 -9\13

So after all that crazy travel in one day it was great to just be in Philly.  I had two goals while I was there 1. eat a Philly cheese steak and 2. View the Liberty Bell.  I can at least say I got my cheese steak.  Next time the Liberty Bell doesn’t stand a chance I tell you.

I met all 40 of the brave souls that decided they are A. Willing and Able to serve and B. Able to deal with all that Morocco could throw at them.

But what is staging?

Its a combination meet and greet/last-minute paperwork push cocktail hour that spans a few days in the US.  It is also the last point to back out before your in a foreign country.

Expect to have a roommate in your hotel room.  It was all good – kulsi bixir because my roommate was a hella cool Vietnamese woman from Texas!

Sadly no organized tour of Philly -it  was a here is the money and fend for yourself when your not getting Peace Corps expectations and rules drilled into your head.

Many were keen to get in their last bit of alcohol and partying in while dealing with the nerves that come with jumping into the unknown.

I was keen to catch up on sleep and manage my stress and anxiety by being organized and informed as possible.  So there was last-minute reading of my Rough Guide for Morocco, repacking early in the evening instead of staying out late and reading blogs and calling home.

In the end I was ready to go the morning we boarded our rented Greyhound bus and were driven to JFK.  We got to wait around for the check in counter for  Royal Air Moroc to open – which was about four hours to indulge our appetite in American food, drink and language before checking in.

That was pure crazy.  I let the counter know that we were a large group and they tried to help but just made it worse till the head guy showed up and gave us specific check in people to check in with.

There were so many of us that my ticket agent gave up weighing the bags and just printed the labels, checked us in and then sent us to drop our bags at security.

Score!  No over weight charge although I was expecting it.

I got felt up by TSA with their enhanced security rules because I turned down the body scanner. Then put through the metal detector and I beeped – according to TSA it was my bra that beeped.

Seemed fishy to me since I wore the same bra and it didn’t beep in other airports.

My other PCV’s were surprised at level of search I had to endure as it never happens to them.  Sadly its a reality for me.

Finally we got in line to board the plane and the “no line” policy I met in Egypt emerged at the Royal Air Moroc counter.

 

Curiously we encountered an American couple who was going to Morocco to adopt an 18 month old.

I wondered how that would work but I was determined to just get to Morocco.  Scored my seat and buckled up.  I actually managed to sleep during take off but after that I was kept awake by lights, the hot temp of the cabin and crying babies for the rest of the flight.

Eight hours later we arrived safely in Morocco!