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.  


  1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who's arrival in Europe was tumultuous! Flying standby is stressful, not checking airBaltic's weight restrictions, delayed flights.... STRESS! Bienvenue à France! :D

  2. Gosh Seb, Good thing you had all those long shifts at Trek--great preparation for all that waiting! Good luck with the rest of your Frankish Adventure!-Rob

  3. Yeah, I was nervous going to CDG on my way to and from Sweden... but everything went smoothly. Those guys with the machine guns made sure of that! :/
    Glad you made it in one piece!

  4. So tell me more about this nice Ashlea girl from the plane! :) Found you!