Thursday, September 30, 2010

Up In the Air

Holy cow, let’s just say that the last 24 hours have been chaotic! I’ll start off by detailing my trip, or rather, the mishaps of my trip. If you read my last post, you’ll know what my plan WAS. Instead...

We left home at around 4h00 am, after saying my goodbyes to mum, Carmen, Armando, Misti, and Nono. It was pouring rain that morning; not particularly great for early morning highway travel. It was so rainy in fact that my dad missed the SEATAC exit and instead took the exit that led us to some random, small town. Since it was 6h00 am, there wasn’t anyone to ask for directions. We eventually found the right exit heading back, but then the parking lot was proving difficult to locate. Finally, we find it. However, Fate decided that an easy trip wasn’t in the cards: my dad’s truck was half a foot too tall to enter the parking lot. So rather than walk me to the ticker counter or airport security, he simply had to drop me off at the terminal without giving me the big goodbye he had planned. Those were the first mishaps.

The first plan ride (to JFK) was fine, but not great. Like we all know, air travel is not renowned for leg space. I, like everyone else, was cramped like a sardine. Initially, I was to land at JFK with an approximate 1.5 hour layover. That wasn’t going to happen though. When I got off the plane at JFK, I noticed that my boarding pass had no gate number on it, so I inquired about it. I was informed that I needed to look at one of the arrivals/departures screens to find out since the gates change often. My flight was to be at 6h00pm, local time. I found my flight listing on the screen, but then noticed something off to the side…NOW 8:30 PM



@#*&  ?

A two and a half hour delay! This would have been only greatly annoying, if it weren’t for the fact that the plane that was to take me to Marseille from Paris was to leave 1 hour after my arrival from JFK. I was going to miss my plane in Paris, I had no cell phone to call home to tell the family what was happening, and no way to contact my aunt that was to wait for me Paris about the delay (not mention the massive time difference.) I found a pay phone, which took quarters, which I didn’t have, and which wasn’t within view of a change machine. I asked the Currency Exchange for some quarters in trade for my dollar bill, but they told me they were only allowed to change $1…basically, I could only make one call at that moment. I made the call from the payphone, without realizing that my family might not pick up. Fortunately, they did, and I told them the situation. My mum told me to relax, go eat something, and that she would take care of contacting my aunt.
I decided that it was out of my hands, so I found a nice eatery. After I ordered, the waitress told me that they were backed-up and that the meal was going to take half-an-hour to prepare. 


Interestingly, the gentleman next to me was working on something, so, being as nosy as I am, I peeked over. He was working on the same paperwork I had been…he was in the same teaching program! His name was Sumner, and we got to talking. He was on the same flight as me, so we ended up discussing everything from the program to video games. After dinner, we would watch each other’s stuff when other person had to go to the bathroom or whatever. So, as he was watching my stuff, I procured some more quarters from the restaurant and called home again. After some discussion about how she had called my aunt and whatnot, I felt relieved. We board the plane at 8h45 (another 15min delay). I met a nice girl named Ashlea sitting next to me and we have a great time talking during the flight. Unfortunately, they only showed bad movies and tv as entertainment, so it was still a long 8 hours.

When we arrived, we were met by a military presence at CDG in Paris. Apparently there had been recent terrorist threats in France, so the military was on alert. Therefore, the line through customs was long…it took about 30mins. We’re finally through, we get our baggage, and we exit into the main airport. I see my aunt and Ashlea sees her friend, so we say goodbye and go our separate ways. My aunt was upset about the plane delay, but we managed to find the ticket line for the TGV train. It was a long, long line. I went to go eat something while my aunt waited in line. After a solid 20 mins of waiting, she ran to where I was sitting and informed me that we had ten minutes to get to the train. We book it across the airport and make it to the train just in time. We board the train…and then we were told that there was going to be another half-hour delay because something was wrong with the train engine or whatever. 

I’m glad we ran so hard.

Finally we leave the station and commence on our 3 hour train ride. Eventually, they tell us that there is going to be another 20 min delay due to something, I’m not sure what. I decided to go the bathroom since I hadn’t used it for about ten hours, and surprise, surprise, there was no toilet paper.

SH*T.     Literally.

Anyway, we get to Aix-en-Provence where my aunt’s boyfriend was ready to drive us to La Tour d’Aigues, our final destination for the week. 

Car doesn’t start. Of course.

Someone who worked there gives us a hand and jump-starts the car. After many thanks, we leave and get to the house. I was joking that no one remembered the keys, but was actually praying that the trip was finally going to be over. For the first time since 3:30 am in Bellingham, nothing went wrong.

We ate dinner and then I was out like a light.

Let’s hope for a less tumultuous trip Thursday, when I’m to go to Salon de Provence, the town where I’ll be living and working at for seven months.  

Saturday, September 25, 2010

"Before Sunrise"

Hello to everyone that has taken the time to open their Internet-machine-thing and started reading my very first blog! Right now, it's 7:00 pm in Bellingham, although I should get used to saying 19h00 instead. I figured that it would be appropriate to have the first post be on the night before the Great Adventure. I'd like to start by thanking everyone who came to my going-away party the other night; I was very touched by the gesture. For those that couldn't make it, I still thank since you have all been very supportive of me throughout the last few years. I may have met you through different avenues, be it through Trek Video, University, as neighbors, or anything else, but nevertheless, I count you as friends.

Now I have to apologize for my character that party night. I had been there since 5 and had been drinking steadily ever since that point. If you were there when I was slightly under the influence, I'm sorry for that; it's never fun seeing someone inebriated, especially the guest of honor.

Before I continue further, I would like to thank Toby for not only being the musical entertainment that evening, but also for giving me the mic for my not-so-perfect speech.

All in all, thank you everyone! I'll never forget that night! (Despite the presence of alcohol!) I'll make sure that everyone stays updated.

I'm sitting here with three kittens on my lap, trying to figure out where to go next. I guess I should get the boring part out of the way: the plan!  :

I leave from Bellingham at 4:00 am to catch my 7:30 flight from SEATAC. From Seattle I go to JFK for a two hour layover. Then I catch a flight destined for Paris. When I get to Paris, I have 50 mins to get to another flight heading to Marseille. Finally, I have some family that is going to take me to my dad's hometown, La Tour d'Aigues. After a few days there, I'll go to Salon de Provence, where I will begin teaching after some training and orientation.

I'm both very excited to go, but I've discovered that my fear of change is far more strong that any shred of anticipation. Part of me wishes that this wasn't happening, but that side of me has always been the kill-joy part. I've got to start ignoring that party-pooper!!

I don't know what to expect, but regardless, I can't stay up to late tonight.

Wish me well!