COVID-19. Evacuation from Morocco. My experience.

The following story is my experience of the Coronavirus evacuation of my friends, myself, and thousands of other Germans from Morocco to Germany by the German embassy after borders were closed.

Though all of it still feels surreal, and sometimes thinking about it makes me emotional, above all else these days taught me three important lessons, and I do not want to miss out on having experienced any of it:

1. Nothing - and I repeat: NOTHING - is more important than human connection. Feeling supported and loved, feeling friendship growing between known souls and strangers is what makes life worth living. I am beyond grateful for my friends who were with me the whole time and also my family and friends at home who supported us. I am so thankful for the travelers at the airport who took over the situation when complete chaos had flooded minds and space and made the rescue possible. And I am grateful for everybody at the embassy working over hours trying to figure things out and bring us home. In a time of isolation and quarantine, maybe it is the time you want to spend to reflect and write letters to those who are dear to your heart, draw pictures of people you love, and sing songs for those who need to hear them.

2. It made me remember how small we all are and how unimportant my problems are. The human race believes we have everything figured out and under control. We do not have anything under control. And even though this may feel scary, it also brings a sense of relief. It truly made me remember that I need to live every day to the fullest and trust that life will unfold the way it is supposed to be anyway, no matter whether I try to control it or not. Something out there is taking care of us, and it all is working in perfect balance.

3. It is an insane privilege to be born German; A citizen of a rich country that had the ability and money to send planes and pick us up; A citizen of a country that cared. Therefore, all my love and thoughts go out to Morocco and their people. My love goes out to anyone affected directly by the virus and to all those who rely on tourism and their daily sales to support themselves and their families. My thoughts go out to those who do not have money or food to feed their children today or tomorrow, to those getting ill but not being able to go to the hospital and those being kept in their houses by armed military. Before you complain about staying at home, in your warm apartment, with food and a TV, think again please and instead spend your energy sending warm thoughts to those that have it much worse than us.

Please, take us home!

COVID-19. Evacuation from Morocco. My experience.

Friday, 20.03.2020, Agadir Airport

Get us out, please.

The air felt thick and dry in the Arrival Hall of Agadir Airport. You could smell that it had already circulated through hundreds of lungs several times when my five friends and I arrived. The light was dimmed. Only the daylight falling through dirty glass walls illuminated hundreds of faces, and a monotonous noise of tensed and tired voices filled the space. Today was the second day hundreds of other travelers, and us, were waiting here to be evacuated before the air bridge closed for good. About half of the people were still waiting to be flown out by the embassy, but until now, we hadn't heard or seen a plane arrive yet.

Time was running out. By tonight we all needed to be out of here. The Moroccan government had called out emergency last night. So, if they wouldn't manage to get us out, we would be stuck in this hall for an unlimited amount of time.

Even though I felt the tension and a feeling that I couldn't quite grasp weighing down my body like a thick fog, it had been too many hours cramped in this corona club to panic now. Most people had slept in this hall, and we all knew we could not do anything but stay calm, wait and trust in the embassy, who had failed us yesterday by sending a flimsy amount of two planes to Agadir for over a thousand people.

Denial. Denial was the feeling that lingered through the air.

Everywhere I looked, German travelers were sitting and laying in between board bags and luggage, young and older people, all tired and slightly tensed. Now and then, a guy played some tunes on his guitar and sang to lift the spirits, to make us remember we were not alone in this.

There was little to no information, and what we did get, changed from hour to hour.

Families and friends at home in Germany worried and sent support in words and messages. What we all knew though was this: Either the embassy managed to get us out today, or we would be stuck with nowhere to go.