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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Gerber Wilson

Escape from Morocco

Yesterday and today, Benjy has had more self-directed learning than at the beginning of the week. He worked on his vlog, did oppo research on other YouTube vlogs (also known as fell into a YouTube rabbit hole), and read about Greek mythology in his Rick Riordan books and a mythology book Josh has had since he was a kid.

Instead of being a model homeschool parent, I worked on helping Josh's parents escape from Morocco.

I know, it sounds like a bad movie from the 1980s, but was very real. They traveled to Morocco at the beginning of March for a month-long tour with a tour company they've been with before. They knew about the Coronavirus, but apparently felt that it wouldn't affect them too much (don't ask, I don't know the answer). We, along with Josh's sister Sara, had been trying to convince them it was time to come home when Morocco abruptly closed the borders. When we talked to them, they kept saying their tour company was working something out, they'd already paid for tickets, and they would see what more information they could find.

By yesterday, Sara, Josh and I were really strongly encouraging them to get out on their own. On Tuesday night and Wed morning I talked to 2 friends in the State Department who just told me to have Josh's parents register with the Embassy, but didn't have any other concrete suggestions. Lots of friends contacted Susan Collins and Angus King (Maine's senators), who seemed to be aware but couldn't provide anything more than embassy boilerplate.

I found a FB group where stranded Americans shared information and joined it to see what I

could learn. And that's when I started getting really worried. Many people were saying that the US Embassy and consulates had shut their doors, even turning away a pregnant woman in real distress, who told the group about what she had experienced. I got tips on which airlines were getting out and which countries were still open to US citizens transiting through. The UK and EU had negotiated commercial repatriation flights out of Morocco to Europe and the UK, and tonight (Thursday) at midnight was going to be the deadline for getting out of the country.

I tried to find flights, with little luck. Josh's parents were still insisting that they wanted to stay with their group. I knew from the FB group that they had only about 24 more hours left to get out, or they'd be stuck in Morocco until at least early April. While they were in a comfortable hotel, Josh's mom was starting to run out of meds.

Finally, around 5 yesterday afternoon they called and asked us to please try to help them look for flights out of Morocco. The tour company said they'd charter a flight in early April when Morocco opened up again. I sprang into action. RyanAir had just put up new flights to London when I checked and I was able to book them on a flight to Stansted. I knew the flight was likely to be super late, based on the info from the FB group, so I booked them on a flight from London to Portland for tomorrow (Friday). Then a hotel near Heathrow and a car to get them from Stansted to the hotel. That was all I could do at that point.

At three this morning, Josh's mom called, needing some more help. So we both got up and navigated the process with them a bit more. I went back to sleep at 6:30, and when I woke up 3 hours later, they were still in line in the Marrakech airport waiting to get checked in, waiting to board, and then waiting to take off. They finally landed at Stansted, though apparently it was a teeth rattling landing.

More to come...

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