25,000 miles?

Trip Start Nov 10, 2010
1
18
Trip End Nov 26, 2010


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Flag of United States  , Missouri
Friday, November 26, 2010


My flight from Paris to Detroit, wouldn’t you know it, departed
from a different terminal than the terminal from which my flight from
Mauritius arrived so I had to, Guess What? That’s right: clear
immigration and customs and go through security again. Oh, well, it ate
up a chunk of the six plus hours layover I had to endure. The Air
France Business Class Lounge was fine but I couldn’t get WiFi to work
there so I didn’t do what I had intended which involved spending time
catching up with the world on the internet.

As I write this
portion—this final portion—of my commentary on this African Adventure,
we are on Air France flight number 378 over the Ocean Atlantique
traveling at 545 miles per hour at 35,000 feet nearing landfall over
St. John’s, Newfoundland. It is very turbulent, more than the
occasional bumps we’ve been having. The captain has just made an
announcement—in French—that sent the cabin attendants scurrying to
their take off and landing positions where they have just strapped
themselves in. They appear to be—not concerned, actually—but irritated.
Those “jump seats’ are stiff and straight and uncomfortable. I don’t
know that I’ve been in this situation before (where the captain
deployed the flight attendants in their formal emergency positions).
I’ll let you know if anything unusual comes of it.

I was just listening to a song on the aircraft system with these lyrics:

            Now I lay me down to sleep

            I pray the Lord my soul to keep

            If I should die before I wake

            It’s a mistake

There
are 1,865 miles to go before landing in Detroit and we’ve come 2,120
miles from Paris, according to the video screen that tracks our
progress. The business class cabin on this day after Thanksgiving is
virtually deserted with only seven customers filling the thirty seats.
Everyone is sleeping except for me. No; wait. One guy back there isn’t
asleep after all. He must be lying down watching a movie because he
just laughed. Or, he could be having a wonderful dream of some sort, I
suppose. Considering “destination time” (time at arrival in Kansas
City) is now just before one o’clock in the afternoon, it doesn’t make
sense for me to be sleeping. I won’t sleep tonight if I sleep now. So,
I write.

This part of an extended journey is always melancholy.
All the excitement of the adventure is in the past. The thrill is in
the doing; not in the completing. There is a different kind of
excitement when one is a few hours from homecoming after being gone for
weeks. It is excitement in anticipation of hugs and familiar places
where being comfortable and at ease comes naturally but life is more
routine and less exciting.

But, there is, for me, a way around
any sense of letdown. I will immediately begin planning my next
journey. When I wrote in the last entry about the Baltic idea, I
quickly got an email from Cianan saying he wanted to come along. If his
busy life will allow for such a thing, that will provide excitement for
the both of us.

Yes, the guy is watching a very funny movie.
And, while the air is still rough, the FAs are up and about checking to
see that all of us are well buckled.

There are about three and a half hours to go on this leg.

What
have been the high points of this trip? Elephants. Lot and lots of
elephants. If you know me, you know I love them. Rhinos. I saw more
rhinos than I have ever seen before and these were close up rather than
far away. Hippos. I saw more hippos than I have ever seen before and
these, too, were close up. But the thing that will stick with me the
longest is the thing that I had not known to do—had not known was
possible to do: leaping off a rock into Devil’s Pool at Victoria Falls
and not being swept to my death in the apparently rushing torrent of
water. Lying on my stomach looking straight down? What a rush. What a
memory.

The weather cooperated. Lodging was good to very good.
Food was mostly fine. I got to do what I wanted to do and didn’t ever
have to do anything other than that. People ask me how I can tolerate
traveling alone. That’s how you tolerate it. You travel for yourself.
If you want to sit someplace for two hours waiting to see if a great
picture opportunity develops, you do it. If you want to walk and walk
and walk even though it is too hot for that, you do it. If you want to
go to bed early or get up early or eat late or skip eating altogether,
you do it. You don’t have to be concerned with the happiness of another
person when you travel alone. That is freeing.

That is not to
say that I always want to travel alone. I don’t. Meal times when
traveling alone are not fun. Eating alone at a restaurant table is one
of the most unpleasant experiences I know in travel life...or home life
for that matter. Not having someone to talk with (at something more
than a surface level) is the definition of being alone; of isolation.
You can read and you can write but not being able to talk and listen?
Think about it.

The air has smoothed out and the movie guy is
still laughing. The woman across the aisle to my right has awakened.
She was busy trimming her finger nails before her nap so I was happy to
have her unconscious. I wonder if she’ll be able to irritate me with
some other borderline behavior during the next few hours. She is not
American.

The meal stunk. The “pan seared hanger steak” was
tough. I had three bites and gave up. The now mobile flight attendants
have just brought me the “L’instant fraicheur.” It is a raspberry
sorbet sort of thing. Lots of seeds, though. About five bites worth.
Nice.

Later, before arrival, the business class menu says I am
due to receive a “Light Meal” consisting of foie gras with apple and
quince, salmon sandwich with guacamole, goat cheese tomato tortilla and
a baked caramel apple with raspberry coulis. I wonder if the “L’instant
fraicheur” is the same raspberry coulis?

We’ve now come 2,453
miles and, according to the map, have just made landfall over eastern
Canada. We’ll be heading up the St. Lawrence Seaway to Detroit from
here. Welcome to North America once again. It is good to be home.

TravelPod
says I have been "read" on this blog 630 times. Wow. I hope you enjoyed
it. TravelPod also says I have traveled almost 25,000 miles. Is that
correct? I guess so. Also, wow.

This has been a three continent, two ocean adventure. May I recommend it, or something like it, to you? Sure.



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