Where do I start if I want to tell the story of my adventurous trip to the States?
I suppose I should start at the very beginning and tell about my meeting up with Korie - my first English speaking blogger friend who dragged me into Nablopomo three years ago - who by sheer coincidence ( if there is such a thing? ) happened to be on the same flight I was on.
We met at the airport, at Starbucks. Nothing unfamiliar about meeting a blogger you’ve know for years, I already knew that. So our conversation just came natural, as if we had known each other for years. No greater place for coffee than Starbucks either it seems if you ask Americans, and I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised, the coffee was good.
After coffee we headed for check-in. We sent our suitcases on their way and I kissed my teary-eyed hubby goodbye, and off we went.
To be quite honest, it was kind of a relief to have someone with me to guide me through the airport procedures for the first time. By the end of the trip it would have become more of a routine to get all my stuff out in different baskets fast enough to not cause a traffic jam at customs. Laptop, jewelry, camera, jacket, Ziplock bags with small quantities of liquids … Umm … yes, a lipstick is a liquid too. Not to forget the shoes! Balancing on one leg to get your shoes off was usually last minute hurry hurry procedure. By the time I made it to LA, (two airports later) I was relaxed enough to even make jokes with the guys, but at this stage … this procedure still involved a huge amount of stress!
The flight itself was rather uneventful. Later on I would learn that every flight was different, the airports are, the people you meet, the passenger next to you, the crew…
I could probably write a column about some flights, but this one was rather boring.
So I tried to pass time as good as I could sipping Starbucks with a movie and a book…
After a smooth landing, a successful luggage claim, getting all my fingerprints taken and smiling at the camera at immigration, I was more than ready to meet a familiar face. I stepped through the ultimate door - where I knew Melli would meet me - with mixed feelings of gratitude and pride. I had made it on my own, I had made it SO FAR. Little did I know another adventure was just about to start!
I looked at all the faces and all the people hanging out in this area of the airport, but there was no Melli. No sign with “ Jientje” on it, no Ella getting herself into trouble again, and no Mom. Just another sea of strange people and strange faces. Ummmm yes, NO cell phone to help me either. Mine did not work there and I still needed to purchase one I could use on American bases, so needless to say I DID feel a little bit disconnected. I walked up and down the hall a few times hoping that I’d hear my name or see someone wave at me, anything … I cannot begin to describe how little and how humble this huge airport made me feel. I did not want to wander off too far just in case, but I did need to find SOMEBODY who could help me.
SOMEbody with “authority” was my first thought. Being directed to the next exit by a Hispanic airport person in uniform, I KNEW instantly this was not the place where I was supposed to be.
”Somebody with a cell phone” was the next thought that crossed my mind. I asked some friendly looking guy, but unfortunately it was not the time or the place. By then I was indeed outside in the pick up zone, and the guys ride arrived before he could even call the number, so that was no good either. I decided to give it another try and go back to the arrivals zone. After all, miracles do happen every once in a while and I sure as hell needed one! Still no Melli. Another walk down the isle in desperate search for SOMEone. Although I AM proud of myself, I never panicked. HONEST. I didn’t.
There she was … my angel for the day.
She looked as if she belonged there.
Even better, she looked as if she had some kind of authority.
She had a CELL PHONE!!! Well … of course she had a cell phone, EVERY body had a cell phone except ME!!
I explained her what had happened and she walked me back to the arrivals zone, took her cell phone and got Melli on the phone for me.
Poor Melli had been held up in traffic and parked her car way out somewhere … far!
Poor Melli had to drag poor (Alzheimer) Mom behind her, so their pace was as fast as it gets in situations like these. I think Melli’s stress level was WAY worse than mine, I felt for her then and I still do.
I think this was probably one of the most stressy marathons she’s had to do in her life and the sound of her cell phone ringing must have been music to her ears too.
This was the “all’s well that ends well” moment captured by my camera, and it looks like the guy behind Melli kind of sensed what was going on too!
Look at that smile on Melli’s face, she’s something, she really is.
This was the beginning of many adventures we would have together, and many roads we’d travel in the upcoming days. She welcomed me into her heart and into her home with a warmth beyond compare. She even let me sleep in her own bedroom and introduced me to the whole family. I had a WONDERFUL time there.
Some pictures and some glimpses you’ve already seen, and I’ll be more than happy to share more in days to come.
Sorry it took me so long, but this trip has been a roller coaster ride meeting all kinds of different people sharing the best of their worlds with me. It does take a while to be able to put it in words and in pictures. Stay tuned. There will be more.