Wednesday, January 17, 2007

We're Here!

We are here. The journey was both better and worse than I imagined. Travelling with Swee’pea was fine, although he didn’t sleep much so neither did we, and we arrived in Cape Town exhausted and grimy. Worse, because it takes SO LONG! Some highlights:

  • At home, we got to the airport in the freezing rain ok, and just in time. The flight boarded at the normal time, but then we had to wait an hour and a half for de-icing. Luckily though, we got a good tailwind over the Atlantic so the flight itself only took 6 hours and we arrived pretty much on time in Amsterdam.
  • Shortly after takeoff, when we were still climbing very steeply, a very elderly, very frail man unbuckled and started walking towards the flight attendants’ area. The crew were all still buckled in themselves and told the man to get back in his seatbelt. He was somewhat unsteady on his feet, and his shirt was untucked, so I assumed he was a bit funny in the head. As he walked past me and Swee’pea, my first thought was that he might fall on us and hurt Swee’pea.
  • I have discovered I have morbid thoughts on airplanes, and having Swee’pea there makes it worse. Holding Swee’pea strapped onto my seatbelt, I thought, well, at least if we go down, I’ll be holding him.
  • Apparently it is like minus 55 degrees Celsius at 30,000 feet up or whatever altitude the plane flies at. It occurred to me that if we crashed, I would be very cold. The Atlantic would be freezing. The air would be freezing, and I imagine I would feel a few minutes of frozenness. But I tried not to dwell on that.
  • Shortly after the crew unbuckled themselves, I saw them bringing an oxygen tank to the elderly man and he needed it the whole way to Amsterdam. At one point they asked over the PA, “Is there a doctor on board?” and I worried that he would die. He made it though, and when we landed some ambulance men came on board right away. They struggled quietly against the passengers trying to get off, until an Australian air marshall came behind them and yelled at us to get out of the way. Then, once the medics made it to the old man, he barked “Get off the plane! Go away!” Everyone listened. But we had to wait for people to clear so we could get our bags. Swee’pea was asleep in the sling (he slept through the first takeoff and landing but not in between) and I stood waiting. I noticed the air marshall had a gone, and wanted to get off as soon as possible.
  • A woman with a young child, not too much older than Swee’pea (maybe 18 months-ish?) left him on the seat next to me and started fighting her way to the back of the plane. She didn’t give the air marshall the slightest backwards glance and barged past the medics, who as far as I could tell weren’t actually doing anything. The child bawled and sobbed and arched his back and slid off the chair. He started to walk to get off the plane, looking for his mom. I didn’t know what to do, or why she left the child there, but I couldn’t just let him leave, and I couldn’t let him cry alone, so I picked him up too. Some people laughed at me holding these two children, one fair and redheaded, the other black, sobbing, big fat tears rolling down cheeks from frightened eyes. Swee’pea woke up and reached out his hand to this child, and I thought it would have made a nice photo, these two chubby hands intertwined.
  • Then I saw the child’s mom coming back, another slightly older child in her arms. I still don’t really understand what was going on, but she was relieved when she saw me holding her youngest, and said thank you when she took the child back. I noticed she was already at least six or seven months pregnant too… wow, what an armful!
  • We sat in smoky Schipol airport for a while, where people are still allowed to smoke in designated areas. I used to think Europe was pretty cool for this, but now that I have Swee’pea, it just annoyed me. Not having any choice but to blacken my child’s lungs while I wait for a plane. It didn’t help that it was still dark at nearly 8:30 am local time (apparently Amsterdam is further north than Guelph) and when it finally did lighten, it stayed dim and grey.
  • Security on planes is crazy in Amsterdam (maybe all of Europe?). They have all kinds of rules for “liquids and gels,” which they showed on a video before we got off the plane. I didn’t realized that white toothpaste and deoderant counted as gels, but apparently they do. Our brandnew tube of Colgate, purchased specially for the trip, was too big I guess, and it was confiscated. Everything else made it onboard once we put it in clear sealed plastic bags.
  • The rest of the journey was comparatively uneventful… we all slept for the first five hours or so. Twelve hours is a very very long time on a plane. But Swee’pea was awesome, and mostly flirted with other passengers, took things out of the pockets of the seats in front of us and put them back in, and played with his toys. He just started to get a bit fussy as we landed, though I suspect it was more from having had enough of the plane than from the descent.
  • Once we made it through the long passport line-up, we discovered that our big suitcase, the one that had our gifts, and my and Sugar Daddy’s clothes in it, was left behind in Amsterdam. Apparently it will be delivered to us tomorrow, and in the meantime we have an allowance of 100 Euros each to buy anything we need. So we plan to go shopping this afternoon.
  • What’s especially annoying about this is that when I was packing our carry-ons I mentioned to Sugar Daddy that I kept thinking I should put enough stuff in our carry-ons in case our luggage gets lost. But we decided to just stick to what’s essential for the flight. When I laid awake listening to the freezing rain against our window the night before we left, I thought I should pack a spare pair of underwear and a spare t-shirt in case Swee’pea puked on it, but I forgot the next morning.

Oh well… it felt wondeful to walk out of the airport in just our t-shirts into a dark and balmy night. Now we’ve all slept, we’ve showered (and Grandpa Cape Town’s shower is lovely lovely lovely, even if you have to get back into dirty clothes), we’ve eaten, and it’s warm and sunny.

Now I’m off to buys some clothes… and new sandals I think are in order.

ps - thanks for your good wishes and good flight karma vibes...


Beck said...

I have your in-flight morbitiy, except I have it while I'm a passenger in a car. Oh, it makes travelling with me SUCH fun!
Glad to hear you made it there safely - have fun getting some new clothes!

penelopeto said...

Glad you made it! Have fun shopping and making us jealous with tales of sunshine and warmth.

Mad Hatter said...

Yeah, Sin is safe in SA AND she is blogging.

NotSoSage said...

Yay! I'm so glad to hear that you have arrived safely and with most of your stuff. Looking forward to SA posts!

banana said...

Glad to hear you are happy and WARM - one advantage of leaving during our first wintery weather is that you create more jealousy? I never used to have morbid flight thoughts until a work collegue told me she thought mainly about how long it would take to fall, how awful etc (thanks)
Anyways, I just try to think about what I will do when I get off the plane (I have dinner plans Tues/As soon as I get to the hotel I will...)
Have fun - hope everything is going well - can't wait to hear from you again.

ewe are here said...

congrats on surviving the loooong flight with a wee one. Now go out and enjoy yourselves!

Aliki2006 said...

I'm so glad you made it! Yes, I too have incredibly morbid thoughts while flying--especially with the kids (I haven't ever flown without them). I always think how at least they will be with me when the plane goes down.

I can't wait to hear more about your trip! Enjoy!

jen said...

you did it! woohoo! and you did it well, saving another child along the way.

oh, are there. i am so, so excited for you.

please promise to post about everything you are seeing and smelling...can't wait to hear more.

Yzerfontein said...

Sorry to hear you had such a crappy flight to Cape Town...hope the stay is better.

sewfunky said...

so glad you arrived safely, i was wondering with the ice rain and all if you were able to fly and thankfully you did!

nomotherearth said...

You are impressive - flying all that way with a young 'un. Wow. Glad to hear you're safe and sound. Hope your luggage makes it safely too.

Em said...

Congratulations - you did it!

Enjoy the sunshine and warmth and have a wonderful time.