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Arrival in Morocco


What a neat story. I have one about the day we arrived in Morocco. My dad had already been there for a few months, when my mom, siblings, and I (I was the oldest–15) took a slew of buses to Norfolk and flew out from there. The whole trip was quite, uh, interesting.

Our first stop was in Bermuda. We took off, wearing our Mae Wests, (October, 1957, but hot), and after we started to level off, one of the plane
engines caught fire. Of course, on military transport, there were no stewards to tell us what was going on. Finally the engine stopped and the fire
went out. Then the navigator came back to talk to us. We had a row of seats facing backward, with our luggage on the other side of the same level–real seat-of-the-pants flying. He said we could make it to the Azores with the 3 remaining engines, but if we lost another, we would have to jettison our luggage.

After they circled, dumping all the fuel they had just loaded, we landed back in Bermuda. Then we could finally get out of those hot Mae Wests. After four hours of waiting in the terminal, the plane was repaired and off we went.

We landed in the Azores for breakfast. Then as we neared Morocco, someone announced we couldn’t land in Port Lyautey as the Sultan was supposed to land there and the base was opened up to the Moroccan people. So we headed for Casablanca. Then another passenger spoke up, announced he was an Admiral, and we would land where he damn well pleased. We turned back to Port Lyautey.

We landed and the Moroccans all pressed forward–seemed like a million of them they were so crowded, thinking it was the Sultan’s plane. We couldn’t disembark.

Finally a laundry truck pulled up and we were hustled into the back of it to be taken to the terminal. It took many days to find all the natives and get them back off the base. About the same time, a shipment of furniture arrived, wrapped in orange plastic. Some enterprising native collected the plastic and cut slits in them and made raingear and sold them off base. I remember natives riding their bikes or walking around in those flowing orange outfits.

Then we got the classes about what was safe to eat, and learning how to soak the local vegetables in Clorox (yuck) to make them safe to eat and all.

Quite an introduction to Morocco. But I really loved it there and would love to go back to visit someday. Anyone else have any stories about arriving in good old du Maroc?

Judy (Hill) Swanson

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