Wednesday, September 28, 2011
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Seriously! It's amazing how many things can happen, and how crazy things can get in just one short year. My last post was a year ago and I could blog nonstop for a month and not even begin to put into words the crazy, exciting, surprising, worrisome, joyous, frightening, heartbreaking, gratifying, and miraculous thing that have taken place in the blink of an eye.
Instead of trying to fly back in time, I will start right here, right now, sitting on my little bed looking out the little window of our little apartment across the sea.
Here in Amman, Jordan, this empty nest is a brand new thing for me. (Kirk's been livin' the life for a whole month already.) "Livin' the Life" literally. (I thought).
While I was home nursing this relentless headache, and trying to juggle the rest of life, Kirk was over here in Amman eating figs, and peaches, and buying fresh bread on the corner everyday. He was walking the streets of Jordan, and mingling with the 60 or so students on this Arabic Program. At least 60 students and they are all the most amazing people. I wish I had time to get to know each of them. (now I see how hard he works and all the things that keep him busy nearly around the clock!)
Riding that big bird in the sky for 18 hours straight was one of the most terrifying things I have done in a long time. I'm not really afraid of flying, but with all the medical problems of late, I was full of anxiety wondering just how I would get the plane to stop if I couldn't stand the pain. There's no chord to pull, no emergency exit, I mean once that plane takes off, you are stuck. I'm afraid I'm the one that's flown over the cuckoo's nest.
Gratefully I survived the flight and joined Kirk here in Jordan exactly one week ago.
I will attach the first email I sent out after arriving. (I think probably the only email I've sent out...). What with jetlag and all.
The nest doesn't seem so empty sitting here eating peaches and walking the streets with Kirk. It's good to be together again.
(sept 21 first day in Joran)
Yahoo! I'm here. Sitting in the morning sun, eating peaches and Jordan almonds. (this one that I bit down too hard on, wasn't as soft as I have always claimed them to be....!)
The flight was so much better than I had feared it was going to be. In fact, taking off in SLC seemed nearly a breeze. Except for the fact that I was called out over the loudspeaker, "Belnap, report to the ticket desk immediately". I didn't really think that was my name being announced, so I ran into the BR before we boarded. Hid in the stall to inhale the nasal med and take the other stuff. It just doesn't seem appropriate to pull out a nose spray and inject it up into your sinus in front of people. Yet hiding out in the stall and sniffing drugs, doesn't either.
Again, I thought I heard my name in the bathroom. But I was all set to board, so it couldn't be me. As we started boarding the plane, once again I hear my name, "Passenger Belnap, you must report to the ticket desk before you can board the plane!"
Oh, okay. That's me. I reported and they took my passport and studied it hard, and then accessed "stuff" on their computer. I asked if everything was okay. "Ma'am we have to double check." I wonder outloud, "what are you checking"? "Well, we have to be certain. You can't be too careful."I'm thinking, is it the one way ticket to the Middle East that raises a red flag? Not sure.
I ended up near the front of the plane, in the window seat in a 2-3-2 row 767 jet engine. (like I know my planes). The "comfort seat", we paid for must have also been a comfort seat for my seat mate. And for the woman in front of me. Her bulkhead seat reclines now on this new jet. And I think more than the average. I know that just because the individual tv monitor on the back of her seat was pointing down directly at my thighs!
(I did learn, all on my own, that you can tilt that monitor as needed, and you can change the German to English. I figured that out after only one whole episode of Seinfield.
It took nearly 3/4 of the flight to figure out the woman sharing half of my seat with me was a supreme court justice in SLC. Newly appointed. She had single word answers to my questions and when I found she was from Pocatello, I chimed in that I had relatives from there.....she nodded.
I realized that she wasn't looking for conversation. She absolutely loved the games on the monitor and played them continually until she curled up into a ball, her backside facing me....actually touching me, as she drifted into a sound sleep. She had plenty of leg room. But she wasn't that tall. Maybe 5 feet. I was stuck. Someone leaning back into my lap, and someone else snuggling up against my other lap!
How do all these people sleep on the plane? Seriously. I had ambien and "stuff". Although the stuff was in my blasted carry-on in the storage compartment above my head. (what was I thinking?) There was no way I was going to try and haul that thing down and open it and look for a little ol' pill!
I was so organized too.
Here's the odd thing.
I was sent to gate C-36 for my connecting flight. I went directly there as I hadn't much time between flights. I was sitting there, "reorganizing" as I began noticing the passengers gathering at the same gate. Mostly Asian travelers. Hmmmm, I wonder to myself, "are all these people going to Jordan?
I quickly asked an attendant who corrected the mistake, it was 39, not 36. Sounds close, but it was actually 4 of those long walk along escalators and two turns away.
I found the gate and somehow felt comforted as Jordanians began gathering.
With each take off and landing my headache and sinus stuff seemed to worsen. But none so bad that I couldn't handle it.
Didn't do much in the way of Kindle or Ipod. Watched the movies....
I'm pretty sure I'm a seasoned traveler now. I marched off the plane in Jordan. Went directly to change money. Then straight to the "buy visa" counter. Then Passport, Immigration counter and then I was done. I was at the beginning of each line. Only to turn around and see it multiply by twenty in a matter of minutes.
I was through the gate with all my luggage intact in 15 minutes! I put pink/brown ribbons on all my black suitcases and found them immediately. Grabbed my own cart even though all those men in the blue jumpsuits kept offering their services. Took the big cart through xray, again, and walked down the corridor where I knew Kirk would be waiting. I imagined him jumping up and down, running and hugging me, squealing for joy and me doing the same (in a much more reserved kind of way). But to my surprise, I couldn't find him. I looked and looked and he wasn't there. By now I have this forlorn look on my face, and 6 men approach me from all different directions as I'm pushing this big ol' cart, and they say "taxi, madam?". "Come. I have taxi out here."
I just shook my head no and found a bench to wait on.
The young girl sitting next to me started sobbing and told me she'd just talked to her dad in San Diego. She missed him. Her mom lives her though and she will go to University here to finish her school. Her mom and brother came, and she started bawling again. In an instant she turned to me, grinned and said it was nice to meet me, and to have a safe journey. She turned and started bawling again.
I almost did too. After a fashion, this cute blond-headed guy in a purple shirt came hustling into the terminal. He was looking around frantically like he'd lost something. I wanted to sit and watch for awhile, but I couldn't. I hollered his name and ....wala
The driver was out front and we loaded the luggage and rode into the familiar streets of Amman.
I'll tell you more about the apartment later. It's great. Jordan almonds and a rose on the table. Diet coke and peaches in the fridge. and....ice in the freezer!
(I had asked for ice on the flight when I got the coke. The flight attendant seemed puzzled. I asked again and he nodded. I kid you not when I say there was one cube floating in the drink,)
I'm back in the land of warm drinks, and no ice!
It's now 1:17am for my body. 10:17am for Kirk's. He's off to school. My head is killing me and I'm zapped. I'm going back to bed. Inshallah....
Posted by Linnea Belnap at 3:35 AM