Wednesday, June 14, 2017


If you ever have the opportunity to travel internationally with me, may I make a suggestion?  DON'T. I do not have a good track record lately. I'm pretty sure I've missed more connections in international airports than any other person I know. This last trip was no exception. I left Soroti at 6am and got to the airport in plenty of time, around 4pm, with a scheduled departure of 6:30pm. By 7pm the plane was still not to the airport. We learned later that Saudi airspace was closed and so the incoming Qatar plane had to add two hours of flight time in order to go around. Then turn around for the plane in Entebee took at least an hour because Ugandan's just can't move quickly so our departure was more than three hours late. Then the five hour flight took seven so I arrived in Qatar more than two hours after my flight into the US left. So I was re-booked (along  with the majority of the plane so it took awhile) at 4am for a new flight that didn't leave for seven more hours. We were all given meal vouchers and reminded that it was Ramadan so food couldn't be purchased or consumed after sunrise. I was so tired I found a tolerable chair and fell asleep for awhile, was woken by a cleaning crew at 5:30am only to discover I missed sunrise.  I tried to tell myself I would be fine but after doing the math and realizing that it would be more than 12 hours since the last time I'd eaten if I waited for the next in-flight meal and I was already too tired and irritable I'd be dangerous if I added really hungry to the mix, I pretended to be pregnant so I could buy a juice. This lie doesn't bother me at all.  Another challenge in Doha was that I somehow needed to get word to my family that I would not be coming into GR on the flight they thought I was. But my little Ugandan phone was useless and due to the airline electronics ban (for all flights into the US from middle Eastern countries), I had checked anything else I could have used. The airport does have a place where you can use computers so I got a message out but I suspect it was a bit cryptic.....

Anyway, I did finally arrive in Chicago though that continues to be the worst airport in terms of courtesy and reasonableness. You are treated like a criminal in customs and immigration, even if you are an american citizen. I can't imagine what it is like for foreigners. I want to make a shirt that I'll call my travel shirt. It will say something to the effect "I have not slept prone for more than 36 hours, I'm eight time zones ahead of you,  I've eaten nothing but airline food and I've tried to use several currencies. I want to be compliant but I need you to speak more slowly, enunciate a bit and stop yelling at me." I know it is too much for a shirt but a girl can dream right?   Three or four weeks ago, in Soroti, my watch broke and I kept trying to duct tape it but when it got wet the tape would slip. So I used a heavy gauge retention suture and stitched it on. I didn't even think of it in the airport and had made it through at least six security points before Chicago but it was there they pulled me out because I had to take my watch off. I tried to explain that it was sutured on. They said it didn't matter, it had to come off. I said, I'm willing to take it off, just not physically able. If they wanted to give me something sharp to cut it I would. They explained it was a security point, no sharp things allowed. I kid you not, it took me more than an hour to clear this check point.
Anyway, 9pm Thursday night, almost exactly 48 hours after I began traveling from Soroti, I arrived in Grand Rapids. I think my mom fed me and I'm pretty sure I found a bed but it is all a bit hazy.

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