Our flight out of Kilimanjaro had a fairly late departure time (sometime between 9 & 10 PM). We flew to the capital city of Dar es Salaam and sat on the plane while the staff cleaned up the cabin and a new flight crew came on board. The interesting fact for this otherwise non-descript part of the trip was that at one point we were over the Indian ocean as we descended into the airport. Wished I could have seen it, but it was night.
We took off for the 10 hour overnight flight to Amsterdam. I was sitting with a group of students from an international school in Europe. The kid next to me had a British accent. The next leg of the trip further confirmed that I don’t sleep well on planes. The teenagers on the other had could sleep just fine bent into the shape of pretzels with their mouths hanging open. At one point I told my seat buddy that if he needed to get up, please don’t hesitate in letting me know even if it meant waking me up. Kid never got up during the entire 10 hour flight!
We landed in Amsterdam for a 3 hour layover. I spent part of the time trying to exchange some dollars for euros to take home. I was getting nowhere at the currency exchanges. I had the rate all messed up in my head. I thought the dollar was stronger agains the euro and when it came time to pay for my drink at Starbucks and I was told that it would be 8 dollars, I’m sure my jaw hit the floor. Oh well, I handed her a 10 and ended up with a few euro coins to throw in my pocket.
The next leg to New York went smoothly. I watched a few movies and the clouds cleared just in time for me to catch a glimpse of Great Britain and Ireland as we flew over. I loved being able to see new parts of the world, but there’s nothing quite like touching down back in your home country. As an added nice touch as we went through customs we got a much needed, “Welcome Home” from the agent.
Gathering up our luggage it was time to say our goodbyes to the wonderful people who had become family over the past 12 days. After a round of hugs I headed to terminal 7 to see if I could possibly catch an earlier flight home. It was around 3pm at this point. My flight didn’t leave for Washington until 7:30 PM. After an hour layover in D.C. my flight to Indy was scheduled to land around midnight. I asked at the United counter and was told that there were no direct flights to Indy. I must have looked really tired because upon a second look from the United employee, she said she would see what she could do. She mentioned LaGuardia, but I didn’t want to have to go to another airport. I told her it was OK, but she insisted on looking a little more. She said their was a direct Delta flight that was leaving in about an hour, and I could try it. If I didn’t make it in time, then come back and see her and she would put me back on my original flight. At any rate I wouldn’t have lost anything.
Delta was in terminal 2. Long story short, after a running trip to the airtrain to terminal 2 I arrived too late to get on the flight with my checked luggage. I made my way back to United where the very nice lady apologized profusely that it hadn’t worked. No problem, I said. I appreciated the effort on her part. I grabbed some McDonalds and called Mom. I was interupted by a call from United. My flight had been delayed. After they gave me the new arrival time, I knew there was no way that I was going to make the connection. I headed to the gate and on my way checked the flight status. It went from delayed to cancelled! Now I’m having visions of spending the night in NYC. Not the worst thing in the world, but at this point I just wanted to be home. I found a United employeed at one of the gates and told her what I was dealing with. She said, “OK…you are on flight blah, blah, blah at 7:30 AM tomorrow morning” You’ve got nothing else?? Please. She looked again and found a direct flight leaving at 7:45 pm from…..LaGuardia. After asking enough questions of her to get step by step directions from her (I was exhausted at this point), I found myself in a seemingly unending line for the taxis. It was at this moment, after almost 48 hours of no quality sleep, that I hit my breaking point. I’m not normally an overemotional person, but here I was standing with all my luggage waiting for a taxi…in tears. I apologized to those around me and was quickly assured by these lovely strangers that they understood and I would have plenty of time. A couple of them even offered to let me go in front of them and I quickly accepted.
Haveem the taxi driver loaded my luggage and pointed the cab toward LaGuardia. I found myself again apologizing for being in such an emotional state. He kindly said that I could take a nap; he would get me there in time. Haveem dropped my off at Delta and as he unloaded my luggage I told him he was my hero! After a kind Delta employee helped me check in and assured me that he would get me home, I found my gate and saw the most beautiful sight….my plane, ready at the gate and being loaded.
I even managed to sleep a little on the flight home. We descended and the clouds began to light up from the city lights below. We dropped through the clouds and Indy has never looked better. Flight attendant came over the speakers with those wonderful words, “Welcome to Indianapolis.”