Sunday, August 8, 2010

Where to Begin?

Well, we're here.

It wasn't easy, though. We got to the airport before 1pm, DC time (our cab driver, by the way, was Jordanian). We checked the luggage, snagged seats together and cleared security. How easy is that?

Too easy, of course. Because about an hour before the plane was scheduled to take off for JFK, the pilot appeared and started a hushed conversation with the ticket counter lady, next to whom Bart was sitting. So he overheard when the pilot told her that there were major problems with the plane, and it wouldn't be taking off.

No announcement was ever made. In fact, the flight board still showed an on-time departure long into the afternoon. But it was clear we weren't going to make our connecting flight to Jordan.

As rumors spread through the terminal, people started getting seriously POed. It seems everyone on the plane was planning an international transfer. Some people were being told to catch a cab to a different airport. Some were told to drive to JFK for a next-day flight. We were told there would be no flights for 2 days.

We were stuck at the gate, trying to figure out what to do, until well after 7pm, at which point the ticket lady found a different flight, on another airline, leaving for Dulles at 10 pm. So they routed us on that flight, which had a 9-hour layover before heading to Amman.

Good times, people. Good times.

The silver lining? My kids were spotlessly well behaved. Angels, even. Ahem.

While the grown ups were trying to leap over the counter and strangle the ticket lady, my kids just sat and watched planes pull in and out of the nearby gates. For hours and hours they did this. No fussing, no fighting. Amazing. What was in those lollipops, anyway?

They were quite angelic - until we were about 2 hours from Amman, on a red eye, about 34 hours after leaving the DC hotel. At that point, Ainsley, Kyra and Aidan all decided they were finished at once. Ainsley was screaming, Aidan was whining, Kyra was crying, and everyone else on the flight was trying to sleep.

We were passing Ainsley back and forth, trying to calm her down, when one of the passengers approached Bart. No, the guy did not want to bring her balloon animals. He wanted to tell Bart that the children were bothering him and we needed to get the kids under control. Bart is much more diplomatic than I: he merely told the guy that we were doing the best we could under the circumstances. I, however, came close to ripping the guy's head off.

But at last, we landed in Amman, at 2 am local time. Ordeal over, right?


Because not a single one of our suitcases arrived. Nor did anyone have any idea at all where they might be. They'd been ticketed on Delta originally, then supposedly re-ticketed to United and Lufthansa. So who had them? Who knows?

We found a 24-hour store and the kids waited in the car while Bart and a colleague went in to buy toothbrushes, deodorant and detergent. (Deodorant, by the way? TEN dollars. And it turned out the next morning to be broken and useless.)

Then we headed to our temporary apartment, where I had a moment of clarity: there was no way to wash the one outfit I had on anyway, because, well, it was the only outfit I had. I stood around for awhile, thinking about this conundrum, and you don't even want to know how the problem was solved, but I eventually got the laundry done.

We also got the suitcases the next night. Bart had to drive back out to the airport at 2am to retrieve them, poor guy. And then wake up for work the next morning.

So now we're here. The power has been intermittent (meaning it's gone out at least 20 times, once for an entire night), and we've been told that you can either run the A/C or the dryer, but not both simultaneously.

I know I should fill you in on the post itself, but I am still jetlagged and confused, so let's wait awhile for that, shall we?

I can proudly state that my kids are bonafide international travellers. Yesterday evening there was some sort of celebration (something about high school grades being released?), and people were shooting fireworks and guns off into the night. They were blasting music and shouting and dancing. After three years of Chinese New Year celebrations, the kids were able to sleep through it all. Me? Not even the Tylenol PM and the deaf ear helped, and I was awake half the night again.

And in case you were wondering: When you wake up in the middle of the night, in a strange country, and you have no power, so you can't fire up the internet, or read a book, or even heat water for tea, you get very, very, very, very grouchy. Very.


  1. I have made that flight to Amman a couple of times and the nine hour lay over in Frankfort is horrible. Have a great time in Amman you will love it.

  2. What a nightmare journey! But I'm glad you made it safely. I hope all recover from jet lag quickly. And that you can get yourself a 'nice' cup of tea.

  3. Hey, that sounds like us a couple weeks ago. No snaggled travel plans, but I can SO relate to your emotions. I know that you know it will get better, so I won't tell you that. :)

  4. I loathe other passengers who don't realize that kids need to travel, too, and sometimes, yes, they cry. And, yet, bet this guy would have no problem reclining his seat into your lap so he could nap and snore...

    Glad you made it safely and hope things get better soon...

  5. OMG! I really truly hope our flight to Malawi is MUCH less eventful than that! Hope you recover soon.

  6. Hi there - found your blog in one of my marathon research sessions since my husband and I just found out we'll be heading to Amman around the end of September. He's civil service and will be filling the IO/PD position there - we're excited for the adventure! We've got a 10 month old boy (who strangely enough would have been an Ainslie if a girl) and I'm a SAHM. Really looking forward to meeting in person in a couple months!

  7. oh dear, what a nightmare trip. So sorry. I can't believe that horrible passenger. Did he think you were having fun?
    But glad you arrived safely and you are reunited w your bags. best of luck settling in.

  8. I'm so glad to hear that you've all arrived safely and that your luggage made it... finally, as well. I have to say, I'm just impressed that you didn't rip the guys head off. I think that's a sign that I probably need a little more "diplomatic" training before we head out in January :) Looking forward to hearing all about your new home!

  9. Congrats on making it to Jordan in one piece. Hope you get over the jetlag soon!

  10. I'd have helped you hold the guy down for the head ripping... seriously, I don't sleep on planes very well and after all that you went through, I'd've been seriously grouchy, perhaps slightly rabid too, also. Sure hope things are improving, glad you finally made it! We just arrived home last night and are doing pretty good... Amman is blessed relief after the heat in Oklahoma.. whew! Give me a holler if you need anything at all :)

  11. Glad you made long last. I'm also glad that you weren't too grouchy to fill us all in on the adventure you had. What a crazy trip. Welcome to your new home!


  12. Just think: it can only get better from here. (Or is that jinxing it?)

    Glad you all arrived in one piece, even if your luggage didn't. Can't wait to hear all about your Jordan adventures!