Thursday, October 3, 2013

My Big Fat Jewish Plane Ride

As the title should no doubt suggest, the plane ride(s) was an adventure.  I am writing this section from the Brussels airport where I am drinking a LARGE beer.  Si vous plait.  Qui!  I am drinking a large beer because, although it is 8:45 in the morning here, it is 2:45 in the morning for me. 
I didn’t get much sleep last night, I wanted to spend every second with Conor and I was nervous of course.  And so I got on the trains yesterday, and then got onto the first flight. 

Newark, as always, is an utter disaster to have anything to do with.  I had a glass of wine before the plane ride and another on the plane ride, both passing as some sort of chardonnay.  That got me over the almost constant turbulence on the flight here.  Which is strange because we were very high, above 35k feet, and the temperature outside was very cold, -60 degrees F.  I am told that these are both a recipe for a smooth cross Atlantic flight by my pilot husband.  But, at one point we actually had to go higher.  Nice pilots.

There was a moment of real fear at the beginning of the flight when the English speaking pilot said that we should enjoy our trip to Oslo, Norway.  Did I say fear?  I should have said elation (as many of you know, Oslo was a stop on our honeymoon).  Anyway, the other pilot who repeated the message kindly in French and, I believe, Dutch, definitely said Brussels.  Or, more accurately, Bruxelles. 

Anyway, on to the title.  I didn’t sleep on this trip but for about 10 minutes of bad dozing that could have slipped into a deeper sleep.  Instead, there was a VERY large group of orthodox Jews from, by language, everywhere in the world, on the flight.  They were all carrying kosher looking bags of food that had addresses locating their proprietors in the heart of Brooklyn.  Anyway, there is nothing about side-head curls that keeps me awake.  But, this large group would not watch movies or play games.  I suppose they are meant to avoid all this American nonsense.  Anyway, they went through their snacks and their newspapers quickly and passed them around and switched back and forth and…then…they got really bored.  They were not sleeping.  So they began to congregate in the aisles.  This was fine, I understand, truly, and have had the wiggly-worm feelings in my legs more often than I would like to remember, but, as they are standing in the aisles, this gives no room for all the other traffic in the aisles but to stick their bums in my face or push my pillow or dislodge the precariously placed elbow or knee or toe that keeps you from rolling about the place when you are trying to go to sleep sitting so close to a million other people.

About four hours into the flight the attendants started to get really angry.  They were still polite in their demeanor because, I think, they thought that the announcement that the captain then made that went something like, “I know there are many of you traveling together.  As there will be more than enough time for visiting in Brussels, I kindly ask you to get out of the aisles and return to your seats so that the flight attendants can move about easily and those attempting to sleep may do so….” would actually have an effect. 

And it did, the entire compartment began to clap!  In a way, I thought, just how rude.  On the other hand, I was happy to know that I was not the only person not sleeping because the place had turned into a very small but very crowded and uncomfortable meeting place for this extended family or group of friends.

Suffice it to say, I didn’t get any sleep.  I am VERY tired and feeling pretty haggard and weird.  I want a shower and a bed and I only have another two hours to wait until my next 8 hour flight to Kigali where I don’t know much of what to expect, except that somewhere near the end of the journey after I will have spent more than 24 hours traveling there will be a rather small bed with no woobie in it.

On the other hand, I hate my bed at home.  A couple of years ago I thought that the mattress was going because my back started to hurt.  The truth is, as I have since found out as the result of a new and very nice mattress, I am just getting older and I sleep much better on a harder surface.  I am hoping that the guest house I am staying at will not have splurged on a nice mattress and that I will sleep well in this bed.  I am looking forward to an open window and a mosquito net.  But these are just my imaginings.

I am not sure yet what time the sun sets in Rwanda because I do not have the internet to look these things up, but I hope that it will be setting or will have set by the time I get there so that my totally dry, sad, rough, sandpapery, (ok that’s enough descriptors) eyes won’t have to look into the hot sun when I arrive.  I think that will make me feel ill.

I have heard that people sometimes feel ill with jetlag or in different latitudes as a result of sun-encounters.  Anyway…I cannot believe I am about to be on a plane to Africa.  I just wish the trip was over.  I am too old for this kind of travel.

Note to self – always get a window seat.  The passenger next to me slept like a baby without having been so disrupted.

A couple of other notes… if I ever travel for more than 24 hours again I should bring a change of clothes.  And a shower for that matter, I stink.

Met a guy from Liberia who asked me business advice in the middle of Brussels Airport over my beer.

And for a good time, call security at Brussels Airport, because I really enjoyed the full body massage I was given.


P.S., just because I am in Rwanda doesn’t mean that I want my interface to be in French!

1 comment:

  1. I knew you should bring a change of clothes! I remember flights to/from Indonesia where I was very happy to have brought a change of clothes so that just before arrival I could freshen up and not feel like a freshly-decanted sardine.