10/11 – JFK Airport
Ta-da! I’m at the airport! My friends (1 – a woman named Terry, a fellow Sunday A volunteer at the zoo – who’s going on my same trip, 2 other fellow volunteers who are on our flights over but then hooking up with a tour from the UK) will meet me here at the gate, where I’ve got seats saved for them. Meanwhile, even though I had a big lunch and it’s only 5:20, the smell of hot dogs from further back in the concourse is making me peckish. I suspect food will be a recurring theme of this journal, though I’m sure it will run a distant second to lemurs once I finally arrive in Madagascar. (I just love typing – and saying – that word. I’m such a child.)
I confess I’m wondering if I did the right thing in checking my bag all the way through to Tana, because the Air France computers are down, so everything had to be done by hand, and quite inefficiently, with the poor agents running hither and yon to fill in bits of paper. And I have to check in separately with Mad Air (Air Madagascar, but I gather the nickname is deserved), so dealing with the bag again (Goldie, as she’s bright gold; my carry-on is Limey, for now-obvious reasons) probably wouldn’t have been so bad. Oh well, it’s done. And I’ve got a change of clothes in Limey, though my Nikes and Birkenstocks are both holed up in Goldie. (Sounds pervy, doesn’t it? Sadly, it’s not.) But I’ve got the cameras (2 bodies, 3 lenses) and the binoculars, so screw clothes, yeah?
I don’t really have anything much to say, seeing as an airport is pretty much an airport and nothing dramatic happened on the way here. It poured rain. There was a lot of very slow traffic. But this being NY, I would have been shocked by anything else. Well, not other weather, but a lack of traffic would actually have been worriesome. I did save a man from leaving his passport on a pile of magazines at Hudson News when I stopped to buy a soda, but as thrills go, that’s a pretty anemic one.
Can I just say how much I’m lovingAlphie (my AlphaSmart Neo, the little word processor I’m using to type this journal)? It weighs pretty much nothing, fits in the small second pocket in my camera knapsack, is a breeze to use and is cute besides. Definitely the way to travel when e-mail and a net connection aren’t necessary or, as in a place like Madagascar (*g*) likely to be readily available. Plus it runs for a year on 3 AA batteries. How cool is that? As near as I can tell, it’s got about half its battery life left, but I brought extras and a small Phillips screwdriver, so I can replace them if necessary. Not that I planned obsessively or anything. I would actually take Alphie’s picture, but I don’t want to waste one of the approximately 16,000 (yes, you read that right) shots I can take on the CF cards I brought before I need to resort to saving them on the card reader (I did decide to bring it, jenlevso I can start filling them up again. Maybe I’ll take one when I get home and start actually doing something with this journal.
OK, I really need to stop nattering about nothing. I’m sure you’d all rather get to the lemurs, anyway.
It’s now 7:35, and I’m getting worried. The others, who planned to meet at check-in at 5:45, are nowhere in sight. Are they lost, or stuck in traffic or some human pile-up in Security? Or are they still searching for each other out there? I can only assume they’ll make it by flight time. If not, I’ll be exploring Madagascar on my own, which is somewhat more adventurous than I care to be, even with the services of the guide who’s meeting us in Tana (which is what everyone calls the capital, Antananarivo). At least, thanks to the kind stranger who watched my bag, I’ve taken a precautionary pee (not that I really think we’re going to start boarding at 7:55) and gotten dinner at Panini Express, which was anything but.
Here they come! Yay!
Turns out the weather just got worse and worse. There was even a mini-tornado on Long Island, apparently, so they were held up. And now, in fact, our flight is delayed for around an hour, too, because of weather and traffic. Luckily we’ve got a 7 or 8 hour layover in Paris, so it’s no big deal. Coming home we’ve only got a couple of hours, but frankly, I don’t care if I’m delayed on the return. I just don’t want to miss a single second of my vacation. Which is to Madagascar, in case you didn’t know. *g*
OK, signing out for a bit now. Hopefully my next update will be from the plane (ooh, thrilling) or Paris. Of which I will see nothing but the inside of the airport, of course. But who cares? Not me, because it’s only Paris and not - say it with me, boys and girls - Madagascar.
10/12 – Charles de Gaulle Airport
I be tired. The flight, in addition to ultimately being 3 hours late, was full and cramped. Seats are never made for people who are 5’2”, so my calves and knees always have issues on long, footrest-free flights, and I forgot to get out my inflatable footrest, which is only marginally helpful anyway. Also, the Frenchwoman next to me had zero concept of personal space. If it had been possible to amputate her right elboy, I would have.
The transfer to Mad Air was a tad confusing, but it got sorted, so now we’re in a small terminal – but with very nice air conditioning – with a couple of hours to kill before flight time. There’s no currency exchange here (well, there is, but it’s closed), but that’s OK, because there’s also not much to buy and none of it anything I want. There’s not even Diet Coke. Which I desperately want, but I guess I’ll have to suffer. We ate breakfast about 2 hours ago, so I’m not hungry, and I’ve got candy bars and a pack of peanut butter crackers if I get desperate. Oh, and a bunch of Weight Watchers snacky bars of various sorts.
And that’s about it for excitement. I think once we get on the next flight I’ll really start getting excited. And I’m definitely going to take Tylenol PM and hope to sleep. Because the other flight was so delayed and then there was dinner service (the pasta with smoked salmon smelled really nasty, btw), I didn’t end up with enough available sleep time to take it. But this flight is almost 11 hours, so there should be 8 available hours in there somewhere in which to doze, real sleep undoubtedly being an impossibility. I just hope they have Diet Coke. *g*
On the plus side, I reread a bunch of A Game of Thrones, and I love it just as much the third time through as I did the first. Martin is, imo, the best writer working in fantasy today, and one of the best current writers, period. (Bear in mind that my tastes definitely run toward the popular, not the literary. But even so, he doesn’t just tell a story, he writes.)
Anyway, there’s pretty much nothing else to say at the moment, so I think I’ll go back to Martin and see you all later.
PS - This is the icon I was using in my regular lj when I wrote about my trip.
Not exactly appropriate anymore, is it?