Day 3: The North Pole, Falcons and Other Fun Stuff
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Fresh seasonal fruit
Herb omelette, served with golden fried potato wedges, creamy spinach and mushrooms
Croissant, served with butter and preserve
Again, it was a really good, filling meal, albeit at about 03:45
It was somewhere there that "lunch" was served:
Appetiser: Saffron moghrabieh salad, with red pepper and coriander
Main Course: Lamb mouloukhia (traditional Middle Eastern lamb and mouloukhia stew), with steamed rice and sautéed vegetables
Dessert: Apricot almond cake (an egg-free moist sponge cake), with vanilla cream sauce
Cheese and biscuits
Coffee and chocolates
I can highly recommend the apricot almond cake
By the time the air hostess came to clear away our trays, we were already peering out the window again. Apparently curious, she, too, leaned over to look out. "Oh, it's beautiful!" she exclaimed. I couldn't believe that she must surely have flown this route often, yet it seemed she'd never before noticed the desolate grandeur roughly 34,000 feet below.
Our flight path then took us over Canada and the Northern United States, many still under a thick blanket of snow. Farms patchworked the countryside below, but it's a mystery as to what they're able to produce when frozen for most of the year...
A little before landing, we were fed a slice of three-cheese pizza, and casually informed that we had a passenger on board requiring medical attention, so we were requested to stay seated on arrival at the terminal building while medics attended to them. That process ended up being pretty efficient, in contrast to clearing immigration, which definitely was not. Although the citizens queue was way longer than the visitors', it moved much faster and Richard made it through relatively quickly and unscathed this time. I, on the other hand, spent well over an hour barely moving, repeatedly counting the 4 to 6 open counters out of the 30+ available and getting more and more frustrated as the minutes wore on, conscious that Cheryl had taken time off work to fetch us from the airport and I had no way of contacting her
We stopped to pick Janae up from school on the way home, given that she had early release and it was now already early afternoon. On arrival at the Fernandez' residence, Cheryl showed us to our rooms, spoiling us already, with boxes of Starbucks VIA Ready Brew waiting for me on the dresser! Shortly thereafter, a friend of hers arrived with a German chocolate cake for her birthday, which was a couple of days prior to our arrival, and since Cheryl was already brewing a pot of coffee for me, we sat down around the kitchen table to enjoy some cake, and me, gallons of Starbucks coffee with it!
Dominique was to play her last softball game of the season that evening for her school, Timber Creek. Supporters' gear, even for school teams, is sold in the local supermarkets here, so Cheryl returned from grocery shopping that evening with a Falcons shirt for both Richard and I. After a quick dinner, we proudly donned our purple shirts and headed out to the game as honourary Falcons fans!
There was a seniors' game in progress when we arrived, followed by a seniors' farewell for those in their final year (matric, to us South Africans who may need some context) who had therefore just played their final school game. There was only one Timber Creek senior, but it was a moving ceremony, as she walked onto the field escorted by her family, and moved around all of the bases, saying a last goodbye to each of her teammates, may of them quite emotional
Dominique's game was very exciting, and the Falcons were in the lead early on, but, despite our fervent efforts from the stands, they weren't able to hold onto it. My nerves were quite shot and my voice hoarse by the end of it all! Amazingly, both teams then gathered in a circle on the field, and, hand-in-hand said the Lord's Prayer, before dispersing to rake the pitch.
Exhausted but elated after a full day (or few!), I sank into the soft sheets of the spare room bed, with prayers of deep gratitude. For the privilege of travel. For safety. For family. For friends. For fun.