The Brewers embarked on a 13-day tour through Morocco through the tour service Gate 1 Tours. Both Theresa and Bob have traveled the globe extensively through this travel service as well as independently.
“We were aware of COVID-19, but were not really worried about it in Morocco since there were only two cases in the whole country at the time,” Theresa said. “Our family members were very worried about us going.”
The couple was able to travel through the country uninterrupted by the virus. Taking in many cultural sites and enjoying their trip.
As they got closer to the end of the trip, there was no indication that any of their travel plans would be interrupted.
However, when the couple were set to leave, they learned of the lock downs and inability to leave the country as easily as the expected.
“The mood was extremely tense with all the shoving and pushing to get in front of the line!” Theresa shared via e-mail from Paris, France, where the couple were waiting in the airport for a connecting flight to the United States to become available. “We went to the airport (in Casablanca) three days in a row to try to get on. The first day we went at 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Second day we were there 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. Friday we got on the bus for the trip to the Marakesh airport at 3:30 p.m. Twice we were in line, but then told to get out of line until the priority citizens were boarded! The tour guides stayed right with us, intervening and translating and helping us get our tickets booked online so we could make it out! The tensions continued to rise because the Moroccan government was shutting down all activities at 6 p.m. The hotel was housing the tourists but would be closing. The guides were frantically working on our trip home. Our guide, Amine, lived in Germany and told us he would not go home to Germany until all of his tourists were out of Morocco, his wife was getting so worried since the borders were shutting down!”
Pleas for help
The group of tourists posted their pleas on Facebook to have their friends and family reach out to their local politicians and urge them to send help. At one point a reporter even brought the situation to the attention of President Trump during a press conference last week.
Theresa emphasized that their tour guides as well as Air France played a huge role in their being able to leave Morocco.
“I was fearful our Government was not doing what they could to help us get out!” Theresa said. “The tour guides of each group banded together and worked extremely hard on our behalf. They would bus us to the airport and work with airport personnel to help us with our flights! Thank God the French and our tour guides were willing to help us. The tour guides got us to the airport in Marakesh so they could get us to the front of the line. Then they stayed with us the whole time to translate and work with airport personnel to get us on. French and Moroccan citizens had priority but since they got us up front and stayed with working with airport personnel they got us in the flight.
“Air France brought an empty airplane to Morocco to transport as many people out as possible and the crew were volunteering their time to help us. The flight included a meal for us and was comfortable even though totally full. There were hundreds at the airport pushing and shoving to be the first in line. Air France was the only airline transporting people out. Their main purpose was to get French citizens out of Morocco, so they (French citizens) took priority. They would then take Moroccan Nationals, then EU citizens, then the U.S. and Canadian citizens. It was great they were willing to give us any extra seats!”
The Brewers arrived at the Charles DeGaul airport and immediately looked for somewhere to sleep.
“We found a closed restaurant and slept on their benches,” Theresa shared. The couple arrived in Paris at around 3 p.m. on Friday, March 20, and were able to depart the next day at 10:30 a.m.
“The attitude at the airport in France was a lot calmer. We knew we had a flight, we all had boarding passes and our luggage was booked all the way through Chicago,” Theresa said.
Once on their flight out of France, a weight felt as though it had been lifted for the couple.
“Air France was an excellent airline to fly with. The crew was wonderful and the food was great,” Theresa said. “We arrived in Atlanta and after customs, checked our bags in to send them on their way to Chicago. The flight out of Atlanta was also a breeze.”
Once home on Sunday night, March 22, the couple wasted no time getting back in the home groove.
“Our family brought us ice cream and chocolate milk, we waved through the window and gave air kisses from afar, we were excited to unpack though and sleep in our own beds,” Theresa said. “We are both quarantined for the next two weeks. Bob will be working from home and I am excited to get outside and walk my own hills. I am just happy to be safe at home and extremely happy I live in the country. Bob and I have lots of fencing to get done so I know we will be busy. We met some amazing people on this trip who will be friends for life. Despite all of what we went through, we’d still like to travel more, once the world settles down a bit.”