I’m currently sitting at the Local pub in Terminal F of the Philadelphia International Airport. Technically I should have arrived in Toronto about 90 minutes ago, but every now and then plans don’t work the way one wants them to.
The adventure home began about 24 hours ago – give or take. I’m a little tired, so I’m having issues with the quantum mathematics required to figure out the space-time differential between 6pm yesterday in Nepal and noon today in Philadelphia.
But that’s really not important in the grand scheme of things.
Rick and I were scheduled to make our way to the Kathmandu airport around 6pm (Nepal time), but of course our departure wasn’t typical – nothing about this trip has been typical. After spending some time enjoying a final coffee and cookie with Timarian, we met up with Nik who just happened to be in town because his scheduled trek was canceled due to weather. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Nik was our assistant guide who became our main guide after Rick was helicoptered off the mountain due to altitude sickness.
After coffees and such, we returned to our hotel because they had organized a complimentary airport taxi for us. As I mentioned previously, our departure was anything but typical. Some of the staff made a point of saying goodbye before they finished their shifts (because they wouldn’t be there when we actually left for the airport). In addition, we received peace-scarves from almost everyone; the staff at the hotel, Nik, and Ramesh (our original trek guide). Both Rick and I commented on the fanfare that was made of our departure. Hugs and handshakes were shared, as well as promises of returning for more adventures.
When we arrived at the airport I was able to check in, but since Rick was 4 hours early for his flight, he was not. We decided to sit in the ticketing area (even though I had already checked in). Rick then ventured off to investigate the possibility of buying a tea or coffee. Our behaviour may or may not have been suspicious – I’m really not sure. All I know is that within a few seconds of sitting down, a security guard/police office/military person sat next to me. He then began very seriously grilling me about where I was from, what I was doing in Nepal, how long I’d been there, and where I was going. He asked about specifics of the trek, and why I was sitting where I was, and where my friend was. I politely provided him with whatever information I deemed necessary, while focusing most of my efforts on a rather challenging KenKen game that I was trying to complete. Because math puzzles were clearly more important to me than the possibility of being dragged away by security for some unknown reason.
It was all very weird.
It wasn’t long after that, however, that I had to say farewell to Rick. Due to my flight schedule our goodbye was rather quick; a hug, a double pat on the back, a quick love you man, and then a wave and a smile as I made my way to my gate. It’s always hard saying goodbye to Rick. While I know we have many more adventures to share in our future, I never feel like there’s enough time.
My flight from Kathmandu to Doha was uneventful, save for the average sized man who sat next to me who clearly believed he was bigger than the average sized man. Tip of the day – when you are in your seat on a plane, etiquette dictates that your personal space is made up of the space directly in front of your seat, bordered by the imaginary walls created by the armrests. While there are always exceptions to every rule, there is no way that I should have to deal with your legs or arms or body in my personal space. Also, fellow men, if your balls are really so big that you have to spread your legs to invade my personal space, perhaps you should see a doctor.
After arriving in Doha, I quickly made my way to my next flight that would take me to Philadelphia. That flight was also uneventful save for a little turbulence that delayed our arrival by 30 minutes or more. I wasn’t concerned, however, as my next flight was scheduled to leave 1.5 hours after we touched down. Sadly, I hadn’t expected US customs. I have no idea why it took so long for one plane to be processed, but by the time I managed to make my way through the customs line, I and several other passengers had literally 7 minutes to collect and recheck our bags, get through security, and transfer terminals. At one point – 40 minutes before I’d actually made my way though customs – I asked one of the staff What are the chances of me making my 9:30 flight? Is this going to be an Amazing Race sort of thing? She didn’t really know what to say.
Anyway, long story short, I missed my flight. So now I sit in the Philadelphia airport awaiting my new flight home. I may be exhausted from travel but things aren’t all that bad in the grand scheme of things. I have a beer in hand, and my belly is full. On top of that, I’ve managed to change my return flights from a Philly-New York-Toronto connection (that would get me home after 8pm), to a direct Philly-Toronto flight that gets me in just after 5pm (assuming no further delays, of course).
This may be the longest travel day(s) I’ve ever experienced, but honestly, it’s all part of the adventure. I really can’t complain.