Saturday, September 21, 2013


 My second short story..... I hope you have a good laugh
The beginning of the flight
The middle of the flight

After almost a year of waiting, I knew it was time. Spring had arrived in 2009 and I had this inner instinct to get back to Africa and bring my three kids home. As far as I knew, nothing had changed in the immigration office in Uganda. I was legally the children’s parent but passport issues had caused me to keep flying back and forth to try to get them a passport.   My 21 year old daughter, Magy and I booked a ticket and set out on an adventure of faith to Uganda.  I’m typically a detail person but this time I booked the cheapest ticket I could find not paying attention to the itinerary.... Had I done that, I might have been prepared.  We were headed to Uganda, via NewYork and South Africa! 
  We arrived at our hotel in NYC and got to bed at  3am.  Magy went right off to sleep but I tossed and turned as traffic whizzed by all night on the Highway nearby.   Sleep evading me, I got up and ordered room service.  A guy with an accent answered the phone.  I ordered Magy’s eggs scrambled and mine, over easy. He didn’t seem to understand and so I said, “You know, Sunny side up, with the middle all runny.”  He chuckled out loud and said ok. ” I will bring it to you. I have to meet a person who orders eggs Sunny Side Up” It wasn’t long before a knock on the door, signaled that our breakfast had arrived. Sure enough an older gentleman of Indian descent stood there smiling from ear to ear. Thanking him, I signed the ticket and wished him a great day. Smiling, he said, “You made my day today.”  I suppose we Southerners do know how to start our days off. Ordering those eggs just set our day in motion for happiness. 

At the hotel in NYC

    Finishing our delicious breakfast we headed downstairs, hauling our suitcases in three trips to the lobby. I have no recollection of how we even got them to the hotel room in the first place only a few hours before. Sleep erases memories.
The greeter/bellhop cheerfully greeted us begging us not to leave and had us laughing from the get go as he helped get our luggage loaded onto the shuttle. The shuttle guy was even more cheerful. He was Ragaee all the way from one of the islands in the Caribbean. Dropping us off at South African Airways, he pulled off our carryons.  Mentioning that the 5 suitcases and  stroller were ours, he dropped everything he was doing and unbelievably gasped, “Get out of here!”  Cocking his head, he asked “Are you telling me the truth?”  “ Yes, I am”. “Well, I just thought they belonged to all these other people.” “No sir, they belong to us.”
He finished unloading them all, shaking his head the whole time in disbelief that two women had all that stuff. That left 2 suitcases in the back for the 4 people left in the van.
Thanking Jesus that none of our bags were overweight, we headed towards security where thousands of people were meandering back and forth through six lines as a jolly guard shouted out how to undress through the checkpoint! My mind could only picture thousands of sheep being herded through a narrow gate.   Once Magy and I put ourselves back together, we headed to our gate for the uneventful wait to board our plane to Africa. So the long journey begins. 

After we got settled in our seat, I pulled out our flight itinerary. My mind did a backwards flip when I realized that our flight from NYC to South Africa was 16 hours!      my exhausted brain panicked. How can one tolerate a 16 hour flight? I had only prepared for a 8 hour flight!  Taking deep breathes, I sat back and thought, I can do this, its for the children. 
     It was a beautiful bright sunny morning, and with daylight streaming in the windows, I leaned over  peered past my neighbor to see the scenery as we took off.  Twenty minutes later, disaster hit! They started asking everyone to pull down their shades so passengers could watch their movies. The plane became pitch dark with the exception of a few reading lights scattered there and here.  Was I the only one on the plane who was bothered that the we had to be in a sunless vehicle for 16 hours even though we were closer to the sun than our friends left behind on earth???  In my mind, I stared a protest but quickly abandoned it after watching the stewardesses shut down several other people trying to rebel. 
     So….. what did I do for 16 hours on a plane in darkness? I say I because this was survival mode and Magy would have to make her own plans.  
First, I came up with a plan. Plans help time pass faster and I intended to help mine zoom by. 
I scoped out my options for movies and shows reading previews and deciding which ones I wanted to watch.  – 30 minutes
 I watched 2 episodes of my favorite crime solving show.  – 1 1/2 hours
 I tried to take a nap because I had no sleep the night before.  I gave up. (Because my mind kept screaming,  “There is sunshine behind those shades!” - 15 minutes
 I decided to strike up a conversation with the person seated beside me, asking them why they were going to Africa.  Had I known, I would have kept my mouth shut or just told her I was on business. Her part of the conversation went like this very loudly and pronounced exclamation so the whole plane heard it; “Oh, ARE you one of those FAB---UUU- LOOO--UUS people we hear about?”  My mind instantly retorted, “Why yes, I AM one of those Fabulous People you hear about all the time.” The saintly Aura surrounding me would be gone in an instant. – 20 minutes
 I checked the status of our flight and instantly depression set in the dark plane since there were still 14 flight hours left and daylight is lurking behind those shades.
 I dug out my ipod, listening to music to wash away the depression while sending prayers to God for deliverance. - 45 minutes.
I stood up, surprising my seat mates, switching positions because my bumb was numb. - 3 minutes
 I figured since I was partially depressed in the darkness that I could turn on my artificial reading light and start reading, the then “not released yet” book “SCARED,  A Novel on the Edge of the World” by Tom Davis and read 6 chapters.  (How did I get a copy? Well, I am one of those Fabulous People who have friends in high places.)  --- 1 hour  (BTW you can buy the book here)
 Because the man in front me has lain prostrate in his airplane recliner so that I can’t even pull out my tray while the movie screen hangs broken 4 inches from my face, Magy graciously switches seats with me –5 minutes
 I pulled out my travel paint set hoping to paint in the dark with with artificial light as Magy offers her tray to hold my palette. It’s a disaster.  –1 hour
 Nature called and I headed to the back of the plane staying there for awhile because my legs commanded me to and I obeyed. - 20 minutes.
 I Repeated #’s 3, 5, 6, 8 and 10 but not necessarily in that order.  - 40 minutes
 I ran out of water and decided to walk to the back of the plane, I did this twice much to the annoyance of others beside me, but I made up for it by offering to get my neighbor water as well since she was taking medication. - 20 minutes
 I tried to watch “Chefs Around the World” but got bored and decided to solve a crime instead. –45 minutes
 Completely bored by now I stood up in my seat on my knees facing the back of the plane scanning the crowd to see what everyone is doing. I know its a sin but I envied the ones who had more than one seat to stretch out on. I saw one rebel and wanted to go sit in her lap as she had her shade cracked open.  Hope diminished when a stewardess came by and closed it. –20 minutes
  Magy and I have light conversation and decide to  eat some summer sausage, crackers and a plastic knife that we got past security.  Tootsiepops finish off our queenly snack and we took pictures of ourselves to remember this long flight. Oops! the neighbor gave us a dirty look. ( I bet he wasn’t really sleeping anyway.) –25 minutes
 I wondered if it was dark outside yet – 2 seconds
 Our meal comes and yay! They turned on the lights!!! It’s like heaven has opened and rays of sunshine burst through the darkness, but then my head screams PAIN!!  I grab two Advil from my backpack which is a feat in itself since the food trays are down loaded with food.  -1 hour  

      Since it is officially dark outside I  decide to try to sleep again putting my earphones in and sleep mask on. sleep eludes me because the 2 year old who has been sleeping while there is sunshine outside is wide awake and is very happy to talk, kick and play. -1 hour
 As exhaustion sets in I realize that for some time now my feet and legs have been hurting quite a bit. I propped them up under my reading light to find that they are swollen double!
Scared that I’m going to get a blood clot, I find the exercises on my screen they recommended  and I stand in the middle of the aisle vigorously doing them, not caring who notices! It was a good thing that the guy on the aisle was dead asleep, because I accidentally bent over in his face a few times touching my toes. He'd have gotten more than he asked for this flight. -20 minutes 
 I repeated several things listed above because now I am delusional and can’t think creatively any more. 
Finished with that routine, I checked the status hoping with every fiber in my being that we were almost there.   Two hours! I decided to watch a two hour movie so those hours would fly by. – 4 hours
FINALLY!  The Captain announces we are about to land and the stewardess  announces that the shades must come up. Daylight shines through! I imagine myself tearing off my seat belt standing up on the chair and singing the Hallelujah Chorus!!!!
Believe me, I was not my polite self as I stampeded the exit with everyone out of that plane!  We won’t even talk about the 4 hour flight forward to Uganda! 

In Africa at last in the sunshine

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