Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ethiopia: And I'm off...

...with a whoooole lot of luggage!! I have another backpack on the front that you can't see in the picture. I can only imagine how funny I looked trying to carry all that in to the airport!

Matt got off work early to come pick me up and drive me to the airport.  After realizing we were going to hit rush hour traffic and I could possibly miss my very important flight, I stressed out the whole car ride...while he drove like a bat out of hell to get me there on time. Well, there wasn't really much traffic, and I ended up getting there plenty early.  

(Aaaaand then I cried.  Come on!! Who does that?! Certainly not me, that's for sure! I'm always SOOO pumped to visit a new country. I love to travel - it's one of my favorite things to do. But apparently I was a little bummed Matt wasn't coming along, too.) 

So anyways, after I kind of pulled it together and managed a good-bye, I shuffled (literally - couldn't walk normally) along with four bags to the check-in counter. Not much of a line at all... And then I pulled the "orphan work in Africa" card to get all of my baggage fees waived! Waahoo! :) 

Once I made it through security and got to my gate, I still had about 25 minutes before we boarded. (So much for stressing out on that car ride!) I of course used that time to call and apologize for being an emotional wreck, ha!  And to eat a very healthy dinner of barbeque chips.

I was in the last boarding group, and I was the second to last person on the plane - for a completely full flight. You know what that means. No room for my giant backpack that I refuse to let go of. If that bag didn't make it to DC, I wasn't about to get on a flight to Africa without it. So while I was pleading my case and stressing how important it was to keep my bag with me to the super annoyed flight attendant, the nice guy sitting next to me took it upon himself to find room in one of the overhead bins for me. He found one that was already pretty full, but he went to work squishing my bag in every which way. And then the other guy in my aisle got up to help shove. And then another. Yea, it took three super nice guys, but after several tries, they somehow got my backpack in there with the door (barely) shut! All the people around us clapped (it was so cute!) and the grumpy flight attendant just scowled.  I was SO  appreciative that they did that for me, and I thanked them over and over again. 

I had about 5 minutes in Charlotte to catch my next flight - just long enough to find a bathroom and grab dessert:  some Cheez-Its.  So healthy - I know.  I again was almost the last one on the plane, and it was one of those super tiny ones that you have to walk out on the runway and up the little stairs.  So there was noooo way my backpack was fitting on that thing.  I gate checked it - along with almost every other person on that flight. 

Here's a funny (or scary) story for you:  The pilot came on and said we had been cleared for take-off, and a few seconds later, he hit the throttle and we jetted down the run-way like normal.  The NOT normal part was when he SLAMMED ON HIS BREAKS about the time we should have been getting airborne.  Yea, that's definitely never happened to me before! Pretty sure every person on that airplane gasped for air.  It kind of freaked me out, but the pilot came back on after we came to a complete stop and said that although he had been cleared for take-off, the runway wasn't quite 'clear' afterall.  There was still a plane on the runway - hence the slamming of the breaks.  I'm just glad it wasn't a close call or anything...

So after that, we had to wait in line to take-off again, then it was a short 1 hour flight from Charlotte to DC.  I got my gate-checked backpack (which I was VERY happy to have back in my posession) and went to baggage claim to wait for my two giant bags.  And they didn't come.  I waited and waited...and nothing.  I took my little baggage claim stickers to the US Airways desk and told them I was missing two bags, but as soon as she looked at my sticker, she said, "No, your bags are checked all the way to Addis Ababa."  What??  How does that happen?  I've flow alot internationally, and I have ALWAYS had to pick up my bag at my connection and re-check it in for the international leg - especially for an overnight connection.  I actually tried to get my bags back so I could re-arrange some stuff to keep my carry-on under the weight limit for tomorrow, but no such luck.  She said there was no way I was getting my bags until they reached Addis.  Hmmm...I guess I should be happy about not having to lug those big bags to and from the airport tonight and tomorrow morning, but you know what sucks about that??  All my FOOD was in those bags!  What am I going to do on a 13 hour flight with no snacks!?  Ha...I guess I'll just have to buy some at the airport tomorrow.  But overall, I guess it is easier this way.  I'm just hoping my bags actually make it all the way from KC to Ethiopia.  If they do, it will be a miracle! ;)

Okay - I'm all checked in at my hotel now (after a $10 taxi ride I wasn't happy about paying for) this is what I'm off to now:

We're all meeting for breakfast at 6:00am, then taking the 7:00am free shuttle back to the airport to check in for our 11am flight.  Sounds a little ridiculous to me (way too early), but I guess when you're traveling with 20 people, everything takes alot longer!

That's all for today - I'll update more when I can!

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh Terri, I love this!! Almost like when you went to Haiti :) I hope everything arrives in a timely fashion. Can't wait to hear all about it!!!