We’ve lived overseas for 9 years now without our families wanting to come see us in Africa. It’s not for lack of invitations. It’s because, frankly, no one wanted to come to Mauritania. We were in France for 10 months and yet in that short time, both Donn’s parents and my mother came, plus some friends. Hmmmm. Then we came to Morocco, where we got plenty of visitors, all from Mauritania. Hmmmm. It’s evident that these visits depend on where we are, not who we are.

Things have changed. We invited Donn’s parents to come for Christmas. Oh no, they couldn’t possibly, they said. Too expensive, too far, health not good enough. Then in February, they called us on skype. “We’ve always wanted to see Scandinavia,” they said. “We’re going to take a cruise and then fly down to Rabat for two weeks.” So, we were almost the priority. I’ll take what I can get.

Their flight was scheduled to arrive Sunday at 10 p.m. in Casa. Donn headed off about 9 with Elliot, since we couldn’t all fit in the car. My father-in-law called me at 10 to let me know their flight was delayed. I called Donn but he didn’t answer.

And so began a night of Silence from the Airline Authorities on High. We found out later that their flight was cancelled, but apparently no one told the Casa Airport, which first announced the flight was delayed, and then simply took it off the arrivals board without further comment. Donn did call me back but then his phone died, and I couldn’t call his dad back because I didn’t have a number. I was chatting with my sister-in-law online. “The airline has lost your parents,” I told her. “Maybe it goes back farther than that,” she replied. “It’s possible they got voted off the boat.”

There was no news, nothing could be found, on the airline’s web site. I stayed up till 4 and then went to bed; Donn stayed at the airport till nearly 4 and then came home. He went to bed at 5:30, only to be woken by a phone call at 9. “We’re here!” they announced. “Come get us!”

They’ve been here a week and a half now, and it’s been quite quiet. My father-in-law got run over by a bicycle in Norway, and he’s having knee problems as a result, so we haven’t been able to travel as much as we’d planned. We’ve done some day trips, and seen things around Rabat—the Potteries, the Chellah, the medina, the beach. My mother-in-law tells me she’s so glad to be here. My father-in-law, whose tastes run to fast food and store-bought cookies, is addicted to fresh-squeezed orange juice, and takes seconds of grilled lamb with onions and tomatoes. They buy little dishes, and a Moroccan lantern for their entryway, and presents for their daughters. They promise Elliot a trip to TGIF’s for his birthday, which is tomorrow.

They leave again on Tuesday.

My father-in-law resting at the Chellah

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