Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Long and Winding Road...

...that leads to our (your) door
will never disappear
I've seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to our (your) door

~Paul McCartney

The equilibrium tilt began last Thursday or so, as we packed our suitcases and boxes and prepared, after six plus months in the US, to return home to Jordan. In an ironic twist we said good-bye to Active Son, leaving him in a "foreign" country to continue his studies as we returned home to Jordan, a country where we will always be considered foreigners no matter how long we live here. Such a strange life it seems, particularly during these times of transition between two worlds.

Our journey home began dubiously when our very first flight out of Boise was delayed for six hours due to mechanical difficulties, causing us to miss all our subsequent connections. So much physical and emotional energy had been spent just getting this far that we decided to wait the six hours in the airport. After a couple of hours had passed, Tayta remarked, "You know, it doesn't seem like we are in Boise anymore." Indeed, we had passed into the travel twilight zone. The other delayed passengers became our new friends. Particularly memorable was the young violinist, very reminiscent of our own Oldest Daughter, trying to get to an audition on time. We chuckled at the overheard conversation she was having with her father regarding busking in the airport-- nearly identical to conversations that Dear Husband has had with Oldest Daughter!

It took a whole day of travel energy to make the one hour flight to Salt Lake City, where Delta put us up in the very comfortable Radisson Hotel. The next morning it was onward to Boston where we had our tightest connection: just one hour to deplane, stand in line for new boarding passes for the Air France flight, and have all our bags make it onto the Air France plane. We were the very last people to receive seats on this flight; we headed for security for the third of four times. Served us right as we had our carry-ons over packed. I had even stashed a small book in my coat pocket.

We arrived in Paris to a most pleasant surprise: we had been told we would have to collect our bags, go through customs, and then re-check them onto the Royal Jordanian flight. When our bags didn't show-up on the baggage carousel we assumed that they hadn't made it onto our Air France flight. We went to inquire and were told that they had, in fact, been checked all the way through to Amman via Royal Jordanian! We walked at least a mile in the Charles de Gaulle airport and I can hardly imagine how hard it would have been to negotiate that journey with our nine pieces of checked baggage--even with carts! When we arrived in Amman we expected at least a couple of our bags to be delayed but instead we found them, all nine, collected and piled on carts, ready for us to roll through customs and out of the airport. Amazing!

We had a wonderful first night of sleep in our own beds and enjoyed a full day of energy before jet lag settled in on the second night. Day two and we are forcing ourselves to say awake until 9pm. And even though I was too tired to finish putting away the groceries, I enjoyed making dinner in my own kitchen, for the first time in months. It is good to be home.

Airport/Airline Notables

Kudos to all the airline representatives from Delta, Air France, and Royal Jordanian, who helped us on our journey. Our revised itinerary was fraught was possibilities of missed flights and lost luggage, but all went smoothly thanks their competent assistance.

Most thorough security check: Boise airport. Two of our carry-ons were unpacked and I was subjected to a pat-down search due to a quarter and a tissue I had forgotten in my pants pocket.

Most relaxed security check: Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. Got to leave our shoes and belts on for this one.

Most comical security check: balls of yarn flowing from a 6 quart stainless steel cooking pot when Tayta's overstuffed carry-on was opened.

Best airport bathrooms: O'Hare airport in Chicago (from our November travels). One pushed button activated an automatic toilet seat cover change and an automatic toilet flush. Pretty spiffy.

Best Cuisine: Air France. Couscous, dried tomato, and smoked salmon salad, anyone? And, the coffee--no comparison.

Most Egalitarian Boarding Proceedures: European airports. No priorty boarding, just open the gate and everyone lines up and gets on the plane. I like it, course, because I am always a second class, economy passenger in the US.


Laura A said...

Welcome back! Love the balls of yarn anecdote! I can relate about the "travel twilight zone," violin conversations, trying to stay up until 9 p.m., and yes, Air France's food! You still have us beat for sure, but my sympathy comes from having flown three times this fall, once overseas and once at a week's notice with a six-hour delay (and once normally), and it's looking like we'll be flying overseas again next month.

Travel is a weird world, isn't it? I hope you can stay put for a while and enjoy where you are.

Woman of the House said...

Welcome home! Glad things went so well once the delayed flight thing was straightened out.

Valerie said...

Glad you made it back with luggage and family intact!