On the road again! Or I guess more accurately… In the air again! Or most accurately… In airports again! This time, however, is a little different because I have a friend!!!! My best friend from high school, Sarah, is coming for a week to do some sightseeing, and I’ll start working after she leaves.
If you’ve been following my journey, you’ll know that having a travel companion is the MOST exciting thing for the main reason of not having to take my bags with me to the bathroom at the airport. I’m just kiddinggg (kind of). Reason #1 why it’s the most exciting thing is because my friend is here, and I’m not alone for once! It’s very strange having someone to talk to and not having to do the awkward elbow fight to claim armrest space on the plane. We’ll put the bathroom reason at a close second.
The trip to Armenia was supposed to be a relatively efficient 15 hours:
Flight NYC -> Kiev, Ukraine (9:30 hours) (I slept like a rock for about 7 of them)
Not bad, right? Except for the arrival time, but that’s not the absolute worst… but wait. Now our second flight is delayed about 2.5 hours, putting us there at about 2:30AM. That’s probably close to the absolute worst. Ugh. On the bright side though, I have a friend with me! And that makes everything better!
So, welcome to the Kiev airport! It’s actually quite pleasant, so at least that’s something. The chairs though… ick. Please, enjoy the comfort of your couch a little extra today in honor of Sarah and me.
Another day, another airport. I think that I need to start keeping a list of all of the airports I’ve been in. It’s getting to the point where it’s actually quite impressive. Or maybe I’ll just start keeping track of how many hours of my life I’ve spent sitting in airports. That’s probably even more impressive.
The trek home is a long one, and I’m still very much at the beginning of it. Let me give you the full schedule:
This, of course, is assuming that all of the flights go as planned. Already, my first flight was delayed by about half an hour, and my flight to Frankfurt has been delayed an hour and 15 minutes so that I’m leaving at 4AM instead of 2:45. Just what I needed… a couple more hours in the Delhi airport.
I’m currently sitting in the Starbucks outside of the domestic arrivals baggage claim because I don’t want to exit the airport and be stuck sitting on the floor outside of the check-in counters until I can check my bag for the flight. I’m also inconveniently sitting underneath an air-conditioning vent (this always seems to happen to me), so I’m all hyped up from the hot chocolates I’ve been buying to keep warm.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The worst part of travelling by yourself is when you have to go to the bathroom in the airport. It’s a huge pain in the butt to lug all of your bags around wherever you go and forfeit whatever seat you managed to claim, so I’ve been holding it for the last couple of hours. I know, I should just go. I will. Eventually.
Usually by the end of a long airport/airplane trek like this, I feel disgusting and unwashed. I’m trying a new strategy this time which includes 2 changes of clothes and, assuming my flight out of Delhi doesn’t get delayed even more, a shower in Frankfurt. I’m not interested in looking and smelling like I’ve been travelling for a century by the time I get to Philly. I’ll let you know how that goes.
Well, I think it’s finally time for me to go check in for flight #2. I’ll be happy to trade in the stool I’ve been sitting on for the last 8 hours for a new, hopefully cushioned chair. Wish me luck!
Now I’m sitting in Frankfurt airport. I couldn’t find any functional wifi in Delhi, but you’ll be happy to know that I did find a more comfortable seat. I also had fun spending the rest of my rupees on snacks.
The flight here was a blur. I passed out within 5 minutes of sitting down and was out cold for 5 hours. I guess I was tired…
When I got here, I felt horrible. My back and shoulders were sore and tight, so I went to one of the yoga rooms they have here! It was awesome! I had to go on an adventure across the universe, but I found my way there and spent about 45 minutes stretching out and “meditating” (napping on the floor on a yoga mat). After that, I took a shower! And I don’t know what kind of body wash they had, but I smell amazing. This has been the best layover ever! The best part is that my flight home leaves in less than an hour… so only 10 more hours in this seemingly endless trek across the globe.
My flight out of Cusco left at 7:30AM, so I dragged myself out of bed at 4:30 and was out by 5, just to be safe. I had hardcore travel anxiety about every single part of my journey. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to find a cab to the airport at that hour, then I worried that I would find a cab and get kidnapped or something. I worried that my flight out of Cusco would get cancelled and then I wouldn’t get to Lima in time for my flight to Miami and I would get stranded in Peru and miss my flight to India and everything would be ruined. Yes, I have a slight problem. Due to my worrying, I booked an early flight out of Cusco even though my flight to the States wasn’t scheduled to leave Lima until like 10:15PM. My first flight could have been delayed nearly 12 hours, and I still would have made it.
As you might expect, every part of my journey was totally fine. I walked out of my hostel, and there was a cab right there. I negotiated a good price to the airport, the driver didn’t kidnap me, and I got there with more than enough time to spare. Check in went fine, the flight was delayed by only like 20 minutes, and we got to Lima with no trouble. And then… I sat. And sat. And searched for strategic locations where I could sit without being in anyone’s way.
Thankfully, I had prepared some activities for myself (and by that I mean, I downloaded a bunch of books onto my Kindle and a bunch of Netflix shows onto my phone), and my hours of waiting at the airport flew by. I used up the rest of my Peruvian money on lunch and dinner and a chocolate muffin, and after a lot of seat-stalking, snagged a prime spot in one of the little airport cafes. Airports are like a second home to me now, which is good because I have plenty more airport camping out to do before the year is up.
Leaving Peru was strange. Unlike Ghana, I didn’t have the feeling of “I’m probably never coming back here.” That made the whole thing a lot easier. Also, I have barely any time to prepare for India which means less time to reflect and make myself sad. I have plenty of things to do to keep my mind busy before I go!
Anyway, it will be interesting to see what happens in the future. I’m all about South America now, so I’m sure I’ll at least be back in the neighborhood. I feel like I’m not completely finished with Peru though. At the very least, I have to go back to visit the Amazon!
I don’t know that I’m ever going to get used to this feeling. The feeling of “where did the time go?” and “I feel like I just got here, but now it’s time for me to leave”. How does time always feel like it’s moving quickly or moving slowly? That should be one thing that we can always count on – time moving at the same speed. And yet, how many times in life have you thought, “ah, time is moving exactly as it should”? Probably zero times.
This is The Year of the Airports, so it’s fitting that I’m sitting in the Lima airport right now, 8 hours before my flight to Cuzco. Eight hours that will, almost definitely, move slowly. Plenty of time for some airport people-watching (one of my favorite things because I just imagine that everyone is going to or coming from someplace awesome, and how fun is that?!), snack-eating, potentially freezing to death because I’m sitting under an air conditioning vent, and trip-planning the last few details for my day tomorrow. I’m not completely sure how I’m going to make it through the day without falling asleep, but that’s just part of travel, right?
I can’t complain because 1.) I made these plans so there’s no one to blame but myself and 2.) I’m on vacation so complaining is illegal. Realistically, in a couple hours I’ll be too sleepy to complain anyway. Here’s my schedule for the next 24ish hours:
Now: sit at the airport and amuse myself for 4 more hours until I (maybe?) can check in for my flight
2AM: check in and hopefully find a nice place to sleep near the gate
4:50AM: flight departs, hopefully with me on it and not asleep by the gate
6:10AM: flight lands in Cuzco, hopefully after a glorious 1 hour and 20 minutes of plane sleep
The rest of the day: drop stuff at hostel, go on a culture-filled, caffeine-powered sleepwalk through the streets of Cuzco.
When I feel like collapsing (ideally after at least 6PM): go to hostel, check in, be that super cool person who goes to bed at 7PM on a Friday night. Hibernate for 12 hours minimum.
Aside from the inevitable, impending physical exhaustion, I’m feeling a bit mentally drained. Today was great, but it was also filled with goodbyes. Be proud of me though! I didn’t cry at all! Well, except for that one time but it was just a little bit and not really in front of anyone.
I woke up and packed/organized until I only had 10 minutes until for worship, so I quickly got ready and walk-jogged there. Afterwards, I had to shower (since I didn’t have time before), and Debbie came in when I was conditioning my hair saying something about the lights in the cafeteria not working and “it’s not urgent but kind of is so you can finish showering but hurry”. Okay… weird.
I got out and got dressed, and the two of us walked back to the cafeteria and into a surprise farewell party! I’ll be honest; I wasn’t COMPLETELY surprised. Debbie’s story was sketchy at best. I didn’t, however, expect a party! The fact that the kids are off from school this week made it possible, and I’m glad because it was so much fun!
First, we played this game where everyone has a balloon tied to each ankle, and you have to stomp on everyone else’s balloons while protecting your own. No big deal, but I won. Shh ignore the fact that the majority of my opponents were under the age of 12. Really that makes it more impressive because they have better endurance. Next, there was some limbo (I didn’t win…), musical chairs (Debbie won… she’s very strategic), and a cup-stacking game where the kids had to make a cup tower and then carry it across the room. The finale was a race to run to a chair, sit on/pop a balloon, run back, and repeat two more times. Debbie and I were in all-out sprints in the cafeteria. The first round ended in a tie, so we had to do a tie breaker where I edged her out. I’m not convinced that she didn’t let me win since it was my party, but we’ll ignore that.
The party ended with the presentation of some awesome thank you cards and hugs from each of the kids. It was really sweet. As much as I joke (/am totally serious) about not being a “kid person”, sometimes kids are pretty cool. The rest of the time though…
The afternoon was filled with wrap-up meetings and semi-successful attempts to fit all of my snacks in my bags. Before I knew it, it was 8PM and time to leave (Jim has a flight out tonight too, so I got to hitch a ride to the airport with him). I was happy to be able to mostly sneak out and avoid a million goodbyes. Julie, Debbie, and Tony were all there to see us off.
Saying goodbye was weird but not as dramatic as the goodbyes in Ghana. There, I knew with almost complete certainty that I wasn’t going to see most of those people ever again. Here, I feel like I was just saying a “bye for now” to some friends. I don’t know when or where, but I truly believe that I’ll see them all again. True or not (though I hope it is!), it makes for a much easier goodbye.
Now, I have a week of sightseeing, and I’m super excited! I’m spending some time in Cuzco and am going to Machu Picchu. It’s going to be awesome! I’m just 6 hours away from take-off now. Time to attempt a relocation to a warmer spot, ideally with a nearby outlet.
My snack situation is still solid. I’ve already eaten an apple and some Oreos. Next up, peanut butter sandwich at midnight, maybe some “red fruit” mentos at 1AM, and probably some crackers at 2. Scheduling snacks is the best way to stay awake… I used to do the same thing in college to get through late work nights. Okay, now get some sleep (so I can live vicariously through you), and I’ll see you in Cuzco!