Welcome Home

A long, long travel day began with a 90 minute delay in the 3:00 p.m. scheduled departure from Birmingham to Atlanta.  That hardly mattered since my flight to Paris did not leave until 11:00 p.m.  Despite heavy rainstorms during my layover, the flight left as scheduled and arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport at 2:00 p.m. local time.  Another 90 minute layover in Paris, followed by a three hour flight and I was back on Moroccan soil, the familiar and vastly improved Mohamed V airport.  I only had an hour or so to wait there before the train left for Fes, relocating me in our former “hometown” a mere four hours later, and exactly twenty minutes before midnight.
     Though an arduous trip, I found time for intermittent naps both in the air and train, and after a solid seven hours or so of sleep, I awakened feeling surprisingly refreshed in our favorite hotel in Morocco, The Splendid.
      I always write something about this place since it is a habitual stop on our annual visits.  We now have access to a friend’s apartment in Fes, and as a result, we stay here for only one or two nights.  Of course it would be less expensive to not stay here at all, but we feel compelled to at least touch base with our past, and more importantly, with the members of the staff who have become friends over the past twenty years.  Were they to use the Disney Resorts salutation, “Welcome Home,” for us it would be more than just a prescribed greeting.
      I did not know the reception clerk and the concierge when I checked in last night.  But when I went downstairs to the lobby this morning I was indeed welcomed home.  The receptionist, the concierge, and three members of the housecleaning staff saw me and hurried to greet me.  In a culturally appropriate way, they inquired about my family and particularly “Madame.”  They were delighted to hear she would be arriving this weekend.
      I worry that these expressions of affection, acceptance, and affirmation are the real reason that we keep returning.  I am afraid my rationales, couched in the language of humanitarian concerns, and my efforts at promoting understanding and good will merely provide cover for my selfish need for personal fulfillment.  I manage to assuage these emotional conflicts by considering such evidence as among the many examples of grace in my life, including them with all the other undeserved blessings I receive.
      The Cafe Cyrnos drew me to a sidewalk table immediately thereafter to take my breakfast.  I peered in an open window and saw Tazi, a waiter and also a friend, raise his hand in greeting and call out, “Fred, how are you”?  Another gift!  He remembered my name, and even better, when I used just one word from my extremely limited Arabic vocabulary, “addee” meaning usual, he got my order exactly right.  Thirty minutes or so later, I left the cafe feeling pretty good about myself.  The best fresh-squeezed orange juice in the world can rid one of a lot of guilt!

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