Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Delirious In First Class

I'm planning on having an entire first class post later but let's be clear, the state of my mind at this point is not ready for that. You, internet, are not ready for that. My flight to Amsterdam was supposed to be my sleeping Ambien induced flight. Didn't work. Ugh. So now I'm even groggier than ever and just...woozy. Woozy sounds like nausea's involved which it isn't. It's more like a "woooooooooo" where everything is kind of spinning and you think you'll find your head near the ceiling.

All this to say, I'm in Amsterdam and I got here FIRST CLASS. I seriously kept waiting for them to come up to me and say, "ma'am, I'm sorry, we've made a mistake. We need you to move to the back of the plane where you belong...". But instead, I was treated like a queen. Amazing. More details on that later.

Since my eyes keep opening and closing, I'm taking that as a hint from my body that I should stop typing things for people to see when I'm in this state...although I'm sure at some point this would get entertaining.

See you in KAMPALA!! :)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Before I tell you what the last 19 hours have been like, I must note how much traveling gives me the opportunity to blog more. Kind of nice. :)

So, I flew from Moline, IL to Atlanta yesterday afternoon. I got into the ATL at about 3:30. Per tradition, I took the tram straight to Terminal A for my traditional ATL airport eats: Great Wraps and Dunkin' Donuts. I happily consumed my gyro which was especially good. I think they knew it was going to be my last American meal so they just made it extra yummy. That's what I was thinking each bite, at least. After that, I headed to Terminal E for my Amsterdam flight. I had just sat down when they announced that they were looking for volunteers with flexible schedules to go on another flight. They offered an awesome amount of money in Delta vouchers plus meals, hotel, etc. My first thought was, "no way, can't do it".

Allow me to give you a little back story. Jill and I were going to meet up at the airport here during my layover to hang out one last time. If we were going to meet up, I was going to bring my American cell phone for us to be able to meet up easier. She would then ship it back to my parents. That morning, Jill found out that she couldn't come due to work. Knowing security would be extra insane, I figured it was for the best as well.

Back to Terminal E. On two ends, I didn't think I could even check to see if changing my flight would work. I didn't have my cell phone to communicate with Jill and I had no way of contacting my roommates in Kampala to tell them of any changed planes. As I sat, I thought of how great it would be to see Jill again AND get kick awesome vouchers. I packed my things and got into line to see what changes would need to happen and if it would work. The cute Asian Delta woman (I love Asians :)) explained that I would be taking the exact same flight tomorrow and therefore would need to spend the night in Atlanta.

This was it.

Decision time.

I had about 15 seconds to make the decision.

My mind went from Jill wondering if this would work for her to my roommates and if this would cause major problems with them to what I would do with the voucher money.

"Ok, I'll do it!"

Wait, did I just say that?

She started clicking her computer and immediately I started second guessing my decision. I had NO way of getting in touch with Jill and knew I'd have to find internet somewhere in the airport to get on Skype. I didn't know what my roomies had planned for this week and was praying that nothing was planned the next night. There was a man next to me who is also flying to Kampala that took Delta up on their deal. We chatted a bit since, I mean, Kampala isn't your "normal" destination from Atlanta. :) He requested first class instead of the Delta money voucher. After I received all of my vouchers, I headed towards a gate in hopes of internet. Two weeks ago when I was here, I could find free WiFi everywhere so I had high hopes...

...that were soon dashed to smithereens.

I went through the process to pay for internet and it still wouldn't work. By this time, it was about 5:30 and I knew Jill would have already left work. I didn't know what her plans were for the night but I knew I had to get ahold of her soon for anything to work out. I started to get REALLY frustrated. My brilliant spontaneous plan was not going well. There was a guy and a girl across from me so I decided to brave it and ask to borrow one of their cell phones. The girl agreed. Feeling flustered and frustrated, I call Jill.

*speaking 500004938 miles an hour* "JILL! I did something crazy! They asked for volunteers and I said YES and so now I'm here until tomorrow what are you doing RIGHT NOW and tomorrow and will this work for you!?"

Jill laughed and we planned out for me to take the MARTA (Metro Atlanta Rail Transit...Something) where she could pick me up. She had to call her friend to find out which station for me to go to and told me to call her back in five minutes. Hm, easier said than done. Not wanting to bother the nice people any longer, I packed my things and left to find a Delta counter where I could perhaps use a phone. I found a Delta station where they had phones. It was too late when I realized that their phones only called Delta agents. Not helpful, my Delta friends, not helpful. I looked at some pay phones, which I don't think I've used since perhaps junior high in order for my mom to come pick me up from a movie. However, since I don't quite live in America anymore, I don't have American change to use the pay phone. Frustrated, I looked around to see if I could find another nice person who would let me use their cell phone. There were some Delta workers and I went up to explain my situation and ask if there was a cell phone I could use. One of the guys pulled his out. I called Jill quickly and we arranged to meet at the Doraville stop.

I hauled my carry-ons towards the tram once again. I should note that my rolling carry-on weighs approximately the weight of a checked bag. My arm is seriously sore. Anyway. I headed to the MARTA to ride across the ATL. The train hadn't arrived yet and it was then that I realized what would be my main concern for the night: it was cold. Really cold. Really really cold. It was a decently long ride. My iPod kept me company as I also people-watched. My stop came, I got off, and that earlier concern about the weather became a reality. Jill had mentioned there was horrible traffic so I knew I was in for a wait in the cold. Considering she had just rearranged her night and life for me, I wasn't about to complain. :) I carried my carry-on down the stairs (seriously, people, the weight of this thing is ridiculous) and looked around wondering where to go to meet her. Oh, meeting her. Gosh, I hadn't even thought to plan WHERE in this place to meet. I walked down one way for a bit before I realized that it was a parking garage that I probably didn't want to go to. As I walked back the other way, I saw a girl waiting and prayed that she'd be my third cell phone to borrow. She was dressed kind of punkish but had the most Southern accent ever. Made me smile. She was SUPER nice. I left Jill a message as to where I'd be. The Southern punk girl asked if I was from this area, where I was going, etc. She pointed me in the right direction.

I headed out in the cold and waited...and waited. I think I was there for about 40 minutes. The temp was I think in the 20's-30's at most. Brrrr. I also prayed for Jill like crazy. Things like, "Lord, please move that traffic and guide Jill here and ooooh Lord it is COOOOLD". God and I had some well needed and good conversations during that time.

Jill picked me up and we met Amberly at a restaurant for dinner. Jill mentioned on the drive to the restaurant that she'd be leaving for NYC with Amberly and others the next day so she would already be heading to the airport. WHEW. What a God-thing! It hadn't even crossed my mind how I would get BACK to the airport if Jill would have been at work. After dinner, Jill and I went shopping for last minute NYC items for Jill. With that, we didn't get to Jill's home until after 11:00pm. Jill packed while I showered. She even washed my clothes so I didn't have to wear the same outfit three days in a row unwashed. Ah, great friends are...great. :) I Benadryled up due to the cats in the house and was asleep by about 1:30am. We left the house this morning at 8:45, met up with their friend Reggie and then off to the airport. We all checked in and then hung out until they left for their flight at 11:30. I AT LAST found free WiFi in this airport and am now happily connected to the world (and you!). My flight is in a little less than five hours so I have lots of time to be connected.

One more tidbit of happiness. When I checked in this morning, my seats were changed and I saw that I was in the fourth row of the plane. Wait...huge plane...row 4...FIRST CLASS!? For my flight to Kampala, I'm now in row 10 which I have no idea if that's first or business but HOLY COW! I have no clue how that happened. Since I'll be out on Ambien my flight to Amsterdam, I won't get to fully enjoy first class unless they have like, flat beds. I wonder if they will! First class on an international flight. Whoa. This is going to be INSANE! I'm seriously waiting for them to be like, "oh ma'am, sorry, we meant to give that to someone who owns a multi-million dollar business not you" which may happen. We'll see. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Delusional Ambien-Related Travel Moments

As I'm waiting in the airport for my flight back to Uganda, I'm reminded of my many travel incidents. I'm sure many of you and your distant cousins have heard of a particular delusional moment on my first trip to Kenya related to Ambien. If you haven't, meet Maria Marsico. She'll exaggerate a tale for you with crazy noises. :)

The trip to America was mainly non-eventful...or so I thought. It came to me in two different instances. While at Wal-mart this past week, I saw their Redbox rental machine and noted that I could rent "Up". I had heard about "Up" and had really wanted to see it so I happily rented it. I popped it in that night and realized that I HAD seen it. It was on one of my flights to America. While mom and I were watching it, I kept thinking, "gosh, this movie is SO short. It's going to end soon right when the house lands by the waterfall". The house landed kept going! I then realized that I, in fact, had not seen the entire movie. That made me start to attempt to remember that flight...and it all was fuzzy. I couldn't tell you WHEN I saw the first part of "Up". Was it at the beginning of my flight? Near the end? No clue. I couldn't even tell you one detail about the person I sat next to because I don't remember a thing. Here's what I do remember. I brought a water bottle on the plane (security was AWESOME in Kampala) so I could take my Ambien right away since that was my sleeping flight. Otherwise I have to wait until they serve drinks and you don't know WHEN that will be and you're losing good sleeping time. See? Totally makes sense.

Another fun detail. I was uploading my HUNDREDS of pictures from the past month and a half from my camera onto my computer. I came across this picture:

I have this vague memory. I took my Ambien. They gave us drinks. Then, a meal came. I remember that there was something funny about the meal. I remember thinking, "Ha, that's funny. I need to take a picture of this". That's it. Nothing more. It looks like there's bananas on there? But I somehow remember chicken? Mashed potatoes maybe? NO IDEA.

So I'm thinking that maaaaybe I was watching "Up" while I ate my meal and then passed out for the rest of the flight. That's the only thing that makes sense to me.

Things like this make me wonder if just maybe I should not take Ambien when I'm in public. But oh, how amazing it is to conk out for an entire flight instead of to attempt to sleep, be drowsy and stare aimlessly at movies. Oh, that's another flight detail about me. I'll watch movies on planes and then remember nothing. I can usually barely remember the titles much less what the movie was about when I deplane.

I have issues.

So, as usual, my reality is surreal. I'm sitting here in the airport awaiting my flight to Atlanta and then onto Amsterdam. Oh, security there right now? Can you imagine? I don't want to. THAT reality is not going to be fun. My Ambien flight this time around is the one from Atlanta to Amsterdam. Get excited. Stories will surely abound. From Amsterdam, I head HOME to Uganda. Ahh, I can't wait! :)

Goodbye America. Helloooo Uganda!!

(And Ambien, hello to you toooo...zzzz...)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Surreal Life

Surreal. That’s how I’ve been describing my time so far in America. It doesn’t seem real that I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing. This is seriously a different world than what I live a continent away. Did I really get to hold Hudson and kiss those little cheeks? Did I really get to awkward side hug Marsico? Did I really get to sit in small group again and laugh at Chris’ endless jokes? Did I really get to eat yum yum sauce again? Did I really get to eat a ridiculously Southern brunch with Jill?

Absolutely surreal.

What’s not surreal was the blast of frigid air that hit me as I exited my flight in Detroit from Roanoke. I’m sure the Iowa air will feel equally as “real”. (Another unreal thing is how insanely short the skirt of the girl that was just sitting across from me. She just stood up and I looked in surprise at the um, “length”. She must be FREEZING!) As we were flying into Detroit, I noted all the perfect little grids of neighborhoods below. As Mrs. Reesman drove me to Roanoke for my flight this morning, I noted the well taken care of road with no mountain sized speed bumps, “diversions”, oversized trucks stopping traffic, car-sized potholes, boda bodas weaving in and out, taxis recklessly cutting everyone off, etc etc etc. It was so calm. I’ve adjusted pretty quickly to driving here again. Parking lots are seriously the hardest (think right…think RIGHT). It was almost boring at times. It was so easy. I had zero near death experiences. I mean, what a yawn. The “order” of America is so planned out, implemented and obeyed. Truly amazing.

Right now, I’m looking forward to getting off my flight in Moline and hugging my parents. I can’t wait to go to Michigan to spend time with my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew. I look forward to seeing my brother Matt and his wife (and eating the blizzards he brings me…butterfinger? Pleeeeease? J). I am so excited to hug my grandparents, especially with my grandpa’s health not doing well. I am so anxious to go to my home church and just feel…home in the family of God that has cultivated my relationship with Christ for so many years.

Right now, I’m also missing Uganda terribly. I miss the people. I miss my friends. I miss those kids so much. I miss those hugs and smiles. Oh, those smiles. Nothing in the world like those smiles. I miss the music. I miss the dancing. I’ve even kinda missed the food (I seriously craved posho the other day. Whaaat?).

Before my flight from Kampala, I had dinner in a coffee shop in the airport. In typical Ugandan style, I sat at a table with two other men who I didn’t know as there was a seat available. One was a Ugandan headed to Kigali, Rwanda and the other an Indian from Nairobi who’s flight had just been cancelled. I ended up talking to the Indian man for about 20-30 min while I ate my meal.

Here I sit prior to my flight to Iowa. Everyone around me is absorbed in their cell phone, iPod or just their own world. There’s a low hum of conversation but most sit silently like myself.

Oh the contrasts. I feel like I’m living in two different worlds and it’s weird.

The arctic air is seeping through an open door for another flight. Brrrrr. Why did I come back in winter again?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Random Delirious Thoughts While On A Layover

Well, it's official. I'm in AMERICA! I have all these random thoughts running through my head of all the random and interesting (well, you can decide that one for yourself) things that I've gone through these past 4000503409 hours of traveling...of which I'm not even done. I'm on my 5 hour layover in Atlanta and desperate to make the time go faster. You receive the benefits of this.

-For some grand reason, I thought getting an ICED drink was a brilliant plan. Since I don't normally get things iced in Uganda, I was treating myself. I didn't factor in the general coldness of this place. My teeth are currently chattering and I'm slightly shaking. Why did I come back in the winter!?

-My whole check in process in Uganda was one hilarity after another. No taking my computer out of my bag, or my liquids. He pointed out this water bottle I had but I went through on the plane with it.

-Before my flight in Entebbe, I had dinner at the Good African Coffee there. In typical African form, I joined two random guys at their table. One was an Indian who was born and raised in Nairobi who is a Mason. Yes, an Indian Kenyan Mason.

-I took two Ambien on my flight to Amsterdam. I remember very little from that flight.

-Upon my arrival in Atlanta and about to go through my 100000 security line, I saw a man with an Iowa Hawkeyes hat AND shirt. I couldn't stop my grin.

-During another security line, the guy that was checking my entry pass commented on my necklace which is a paper bead necklace that one of our bead ladies made. He said he liked it and asked where I got it from. I resisted gushing all about Jennifer, the one who made the necklace but I wanted to tell him ALL about her and how they make the jewelry and how much I LOVE her. Instead, I said, "I live in Uganda and got it there". Concise enough, right?

-I keep wanting to say things with a Ugandan accent and have to stop myself.

-I keep wanting to call people "sabo" (sir) and "nyabo" (ma'am) (which I know I totally spelled them wrong but let me blame jet lag, ok?) but knowing that they wouldn't know what I was meaning. Those are the two things that I have to mentally go through whenever I speak the most.

-...but really, I haven't spoken a lot in the last 193948 hours of travel.

-It's hitting that point where my head is getting fuzzy. 5 more hours to go until I land in Lynchburg. What will my head be like then?

-When I got to Atlanta, I at last looked into a mirror. Amazing what traveling across the world does to one's appearance. Yikes.

-I seriously wish that Atlanta had a gym or at least a treadmill. I really want to run right now. Been.Sitting.Way.Too.Long.

-I'm kind of envying people with their cell phones right now. 5 hours till I get my American cell phone back.

-At LAST, I'm close to the time zones of everyone in my family! It will be so nice to not have to coordinate these crazy times zones.

-It is SO weird to see SO MANY white people! My first thought was, "where are they all coming from!?" and then I realized where I was and how obvious the answer to that is.

-Um, I want to hug an African...

-The guy I sat next to from Amsterdam to here was African-American and I almost said the above comment to him about wanting to hug black people but I didn't think that would go over so well...

-...but for real, if I see anyone that looks African, I'm going to have to resist.

-Do you people even KNOW how incredible the internet is here!?!? Holy crap, it is SO fast and consistent and just amaazing! I'm going to get spoiled here and then go back to Africa and hit the reality of crappy internet again. Until then...ooh, soo niice!

Ok, this has to be enough. Who wants to read deliriousness? Hope to SEE all of you soon. Here's to hoping that you don't have to deal with this insanity in person.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Miracles: Big and Small...and a little more. :)

Tomorrow, I fly back to America. Whoa. I’ll be there for three weeks over Christmas but in ways it seems like forever. I don’t know if I’m ready for America yet. So, here I sit, the night before. We’ve been listening to old school John Mayer while making an impromptu Mexican fiesta. His music is nostalgia and greatness mixed in one. This is seriously the most organized I’ve been before a flight in my life. It’s probably because I’m barely packing any of my actual stuff. I have no clothes that I’m bringing besides what I’m wearing on the plane. I will pack my one sweatshirt that I brought to Uganda. I’ve yet to wear it here.

These past few days (weeks?) have been crazy. My main concern? Being able to leave the country. We’ve been waiting for my special visa to get cleared and in that process, those government offices need my passport. That’s cool and all unless you want to like, leave the country or something. I hadn’t really remembered it until Saturday when I started to get nervous. You can’t quite get through airport security without one of those bad boys and I didn’t know what I would do if it didn’t come through.

On Sunday, I talked to Robert, the amazing guy who works on all those details for us. He expressed concern and doubt that everything would go through before Wednesday but said he would “shake” them on Monday. I wasn’t sure what shaking included but I was a fan for anything that would get me my passport back.

Enter Monday. I text Robert and don’t hear back.

Enter today, Tuesday. We have a holiday program for the kids called Breakaway. During that time, Robert stopped by. I joined him outside to talk visa business. He said, “Sarah, I don’t think you’re going to be able to go to the US tomorrow”. I, thinking he was joking, said “are you serious!?” in a semi-joking way. He replied that he was indeed serious as he didn’t see how it would happen.

Oh, it hit me then. Worry flooded my stomach making it tighten. I mean, what if? What if the office refused to put my visa through quickly? What if they lost my passport, like has happened to many others? What if this wasn’t done in time and I couldn’t get on my flight? All the plans I've made so far with friends flashed in my head and I prayed that I wouldn't have to miss out on such times.

Questions pounded through my head as I prayed throughout themorning for God to work some kind of miracle. I prayed that Robert’s existing relationships in that office would help things run smoothly. I prayed that they could find my file and my passport. I prayed that the office would not require a bribe for everything to be completed. I prayed that God would miraculously make this happen.

Robert came by at some point to tell me that it would be ready by 2:00pm tomorrow. While I was thrilled that they had a time, it’s Africa. Things don’t necessarily happen at the time that they are planned. In fact, they rarely ever are. I’m leaving tomorrow for the airport at 6:00pm. It didn’t give me a lot of space for error.

This afternoon, Robert stopped by the office beaming with my passport in hand. I was THRILLED! I couldn’t believe how fast it all happened! Robert voiced surprise at how quickly everything was taken care of but I KNEW why. I KNEW Who was in control. Tomorrow will consist of getting all of my last minute details and packing together. I am seriously the USPS for the Ugandan missionaries. My trunks are full of letters and packages that everyone is sending to their loved ones for Christmas. Wait, does this make me Santa? I need to find a USPS uniform or a Santa costume, whichever one is warmer so I don't die of frostbite as I enter the arctic.

I look forward to seeing many of you during my time home. If we hang out, let it be indoors where I can be warm and pretend that I’m in a tropical climate again, ok? Ok.