Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Court Trip - Post 10 - A LONG Trip Home

Our first flight from Ethiopia to Frankfort, Germany was pretty uneventful. Eric and I were both starting to feel kind of rough, but we thought we were just tired. After all, we had left Ethiopia at 11:25 PM and landed in Frankfort very early in the morning. We had about a 4 hour lay-over, so we found the McDonalds that we had seen on the way over to ET and parked ourselves at a comfy table (comfy might be a bit of an over-statement, but it was the best we could find!). Eric played games on his phone and I journaled some about our trip.

We were so confused from all the time changes, that we rarely knew what time it was during the entire trip. This stop was no exception. However, at one point, I went to walk around and looked at the departure board. The local time was listed so I knew that we had two hours left to wait. When I went back into McDonalds, Eric snapped out of his game-induced trance and said, "what time is it?! We still need to get our boarding passes." I assured him that we had 2 hours, but he wasn't convinced. He gathered up our stuff and started hustling us through the airport. As we hurried, an announcement came over the PA system that we needed to report to our gate. He was further convinced that he was right and we needed to hurry. I was confused (and annoyed) because I knew we had 2 hours. When we arrived at our gate, there was a line forming to get boarding passes, while FIVE extra security people were standing at a separate counter next to the line we were in.

What in the world?! We were only about 10 people back in the line and it took us 50 minutes to get our boarding passes. When we were at the counter, they quizzed us about our bags and our trip. They got on the computer and tracked down exactly where our bags were. (at least we knew THEY knew where they were!) While we were in that line, they continued to make announcements about the "extra document check" at our gate. Hmmmm. Eric has traveled internationally a LOT, and he said he has never seen that before. We listened as they grilled people about their passports, their tickets, how much money they had, why they wanted to go to Canada, how much they paid for their tickets, why they hadn't booked a return flight. On another day, I might have been nervous, but this day, I was just annoyed and tired. "GREAT! Just what we need, another line to stand in! I just want to sit down!!" Eric was getting annoyed with my crappy attitude and I was already annoyed with him booking through the airport and not believing me that I knew what time it was! ;-) Yep, it was time to be home!

It seemed that there were a majority of people on the flight who were from other countries. There were two men who were traveling from some African nations who were really questioned. They were allowed on the flight, but were pulled aside again when we arrived in Canada. There was another man from Bosnia or Estonia - we were a little fuzzy by then. They really, really grilled that guy. They asked him about his English, he said he spoke whatever other language. They pulled out his papers and started asking him about the information on it, "what is this number?". "My driver's license number", the guy answered. "Read this to us," they commanded. He seemed to struggle to read the information on his form, written in whatever other language. Another security person came over. The guy said something that I didn't catch. They pulled out a piece of paper, "well, then, write the letter D". On and on this went. We did not see him board the plane and did not see him again after we moved up and he was still being questioned.

We have no idea what the deal was with the extra security and added "document check", but we figure that the poor flight attendant's were already on guard and aware of whatever the situation was so they were probably THRILLED when Eric got sick mid-flight and I informed them that it was ok, that we were just returning from Africa and I was sure it was something that he ate. :-)

We were sitting in a 3 seat row. Of course, some guy we didn't know had the aisle seat. Eric had the window seat and I was in the middle. He started to give me 'the look' -- the 'uh oh, this isn't going to be good' look. Then, he started to sweat, then shiver. I kept looking at him and saying, "do you want out?", "are you sure?", "maybe you should go to the bathroom". He just sat, motionless. Finally, when it was inevitable that he was going to throw up, we got out and just stood in the bulkhead area. Problem was that it was a BIG plane so there was still a whole big section of plane behind us and we were kind of 'on display' where we were. Eric was standing there with a hoodie on, with the hood pulled up over his head and his barf bag in his hand, but there was always a line for the bathrooms and he didn't want to just go in there and hang out waiting. I went back to talk to the stewardess to see if they would let us stand back there in the open area so he'd at least have a little more privacy. On the way, a nice lady approached me (no doubt having seen Eric standing there looking very ill) and informed me that there was a bathroom in the back and it was open. Thank God! It was right off the open area where I wanted to stand. The stewardess said that they were getting the drink carts ready to go out but as soon as they moved out of that area, we could stand there. Eric didn't make it that long, but he went into that back bathroom and I squeezed into the corner so they could get their drink carts by.

The stewardesses were very nice. They WERE concerned about the whole Africa/illness thing, but when I explained that he had eaten a steak, medium-rare, and that we were pretty sure that was the problem, they relaxed. She said that they are required to be on the look out for any communicable illnesses during the flight. She kept checking with us to see if we needed anything. I said, "do you have Diet Coke?". She laughed. They did! yahoo! FINALLY! She said that she knew we were from America because us Americans love our pop. :-) That we do! She gave me a Ginger Ale for Eric. When I checked on him, he looked very bad. He was literally covered with big drops of sweat. I toweled him off and gave him a little bit of the Ginger Ale. This was going to be a LONG flight!

On the bright side, because I stood so much, my back didn't hurt hardly at all on the way home and I didn't even take any muscle relaxers! I was so tired, I was afraid that if I did, I'd pass out! After Eric finally recovered a little, we ventured back to our seats. The rest of the flight was a little touch and go, as we hit turbulence (of course!) for the last 20 minutes of the flight, just at the same time that they served dinner -- chicken fajita roll things that smelled....BAD! Poor Eric, every time a smell wafted his way, he'd get a panicked look on his face and cover his face with his sweat hirt. Oy.

We made it to Canada, had another layover, then made it home to Pittsburgh around dinner time that night. Eric didn't get sick anymore until we were home. I started feeling rough and getting the shakes when we hit Canada, but I never got sick -- thank goodness! We were both SO HAPPY to climb into our comfy bed that night!!

The kids were at my parent's house. Since their school district was still on strike, they were able to go down early for Thanksgiving. It was nice for Eric and I to have a night at home to recover and sleep before jumping back into life at home. We unpacked, repacked, and ran a few errands the next morning and hopped into the car to drive to Maryland to celebrate Thanksgiving. We had a LOT to be thankful for!!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!

1 comment:

  1. So sorry to hear about Eric's tough flight home.But glad you made it back safe and sound.