Deb in Amman 23
Yes, I’m back in Madison. I see that I missed the daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, flowering apple and plum trees, pussy willow, most of the tulips, and the forsythia.
But let me back track to the night I left Amman.
Deb leaving Amman, April 11
My flight was at 2:45 a.m. on Lufthansa. Mohammed picked me up a little after midnight. I tipped the bellhop 10 JD for hefting all four bags into his car. It is interesting that Mohammed has a clear sense of role expectations, because while you or I might help put the luggage in the car, he just sat there.
At the airport, two porters came to help me. Thank goodness! They showed me where to go for this and that, and then negotiated down the payment for the extra luggage. I was allowed 1 piece, which was overweight (probably 90 pounds). Then I had two other extra bags, both also overweight. I think I was looking at paying 600 JD in fees, until the porter argued and argued, got the manager, and finally achieved having me only pay for a standard weight extra bag: 150 JD. Wow!
I can’t remember all of the maneuvers I had to go through (4 or 5 stations at least), but the porters took care of me all of the way. So I took care of them- I gave them my last 50 JD as a tip.
Upstairs at the gate area, there were maybe a hundred people in various Arabian dress. There were also women wearing very colorful embroidered dresses that had little cap hoods (like little red riding hood) attached. They were very bright and very pretty. It turned out that these folks were going to Zaire.
The flight to Frankfort took about 4.5 hours. Around 4 a.m., the man in the seat in front of me turned off my reading light. I had probably been the only person awake. It was so dark, I couldn’t figure out how to turn it back on. I had to go to the back of the plane to get a stewardess to help me.
I finally nodded off just as we arrived in Frankfort. Then, when I tried to get my carry on luggage out of the overhead compartment, it fell sideways and clunked the man in the seat in front of me in the head with one of the wheels. I felt absolutely terrible- and thankful it didn’t knock him out. With all the travel I have done over the past 15 years, I have never bopped anyone in the head with luggage before. I hope I never do again!!!
I had to go through customs, and then I had about 1.5 hour to walk around. I decided to purchase another adapter (anticipating future travel to countries requiring one). In retrospect, I should have just purchased the same type as before on board. When I got home and compared them, the one I just bought is much larger than the other one. Oh well.
I also looked for an Internet connection place so that I could call Jenny to tell her I had arrived safely. I finally found a small standup machine with a keyboard, but I couldn’t figure out how to pay because the instructions were in German. A young man came over and asked me if I needed help, but by then I realized that I didn’t see a symbol I would need for entering my password, so I gave it up.
It wasn’t until I was on the plane that I realized I could have used a different email account…
When I got on the plane, I had trouble finding somewhere to put my carry on bag in the overhead compartment. One man came over and I actually thought he was going to put my bag in the clear spot I was looking at. Nope, he pushed me aside and put his briefcase there. Luckily, the young very tall man sitting next to me offered to help and was able to place it directly overhead. Bless his heart! When we landed, he took it down immediately.
The flight from Frankfort to Chicago took about 8.5 hours. The flight crew was very young and I think, easily distracted. At one point, I watched a steward serve water to one aisle and waited and waited and waited for him to come back and serve our aisle. I finally got up and went to the back to request water and ask when they would serve our aisle. Two stewards, male and female, had been busy flirting with each other. They looked horrified when they understood the problem.
I think I ultimately drank 7 cups of water! It gets very dry on board and I really should have purchased some water before I got on the plane. I’ll remember for next time.
When we got to Chicago, we had to go through customs. Then we had to get our luggage and carry it to another checkpoint. You should have seen me trying to lift those heavy bags and balance them on top of each other on a small trolley. In Nigeria, someone would have helped me. In America, no one offered.
My stack of luggage defied gravity, and I was able to successfully push it (it rolled easily, thank goodness) to the United luggage drop off place.
Next, I had to go through security to get to the United gate. The line didn’t move for almost 30 minutes. We (another woman and I) decided that the person who was screening the luggage had to be very new. He certainly was very thorough.
Luckily, it turned out that my flight from Chicago to Madison was delayed for over an hour- or I would have missed it. Since I was in the B concourse, I had to go downstairs through the hall of lights and music to get to the C concourse for gate C-2.
When I got there, I found out that they had moved the gate to- yes, you guessed it, B-19. So back I trudged. And when I got there, they said that the gate had been moved again- yes- to C- 5. I think I would have held a sit down strike if they had changed it again!
I have to say that I was disappointed with the long flights because I thought I would get a chance to watch some movies (as I had on the flights over). Nope. The plane from Amman to Frankfort was a regular plane like you take anywhere in the states. The plane from Frankfort to Chicago had one monitor up on the ceiling for us to watch, but we had no choice about the movie. I just read and read and read some more.
All of my luggage arrived safe and sound (well, the old red one just barely hung on…)
After Jenny picked me up, we went to the US Cellular on East Washington where Seth works. You see, I didn’t have my phone and Trisha said she couldn’t find it in the luggage she brought back to the States for me. After a month and a half essentially without a phone, I had forgotten how important it was.
They were quite busy, so we went for a great meal at Outback, and then returned. It was still busy, but Jenny was able to ask a manager if they had (the next generation of) my phone in stock. They didn’t, but the store on the West side did. So Jenny kindly drove me all the way over there to get the phone.
On the way back home, I discovered that I had 19 messages!!! A few were actually pretty important. So it’s a good thing I’ve got a phone again.
Funny ruminations: At some point in the 36 or more hours that I was awake, I realized that I had been saying “Good morning” to people when I thought I was saying “Hello.” No wonder I got strange looks!!
I realized that I had not miscounted the flowers that I purchased as gifts for various PAP staff. The “extra” one was for Mahmoud (who did all the videotaping). He was on vacation, so he wasn’t in our cake celebration. That’s why I forgot about him. Now I have to think about what I can do from here.
After I unpacked everything and put them in piles, I realized that I still have the charger for the phone they lent me in Jordan. Goodness only knows what black cord thingy I left with the phone in its stead. I sure hope it isn’t something I absolutely need right away. Yikes!
Once home, I did laundry, put clothing away, entered all financial transactions in my check books, organized the bills I needed to pay, went through all mail, checked and responded to some email, emptied three suitcases and pot all of the training materials into the fourth, to take down to the basement, and took a long shower. Ahhh. With one thing or another, I was up until 6 a.m.
When I finally got to sleep, I didn’t wake up until 9:30 p.m.! Man, were my cats ravenous!
I paid bills and I don’t remember what else.
So today is Friday the 13th and I was up at 8 a.m. I know that I will need more sleep, but I’m doing very well at the moment- and I’ve been very busy all day long.
Thank you for keeping me company on this trip. Hopefully, there will be many more in my future. So keep your passport ready!