Thursday, January 7, 2016

Zanzibar to Seattle. 52 Hours of Travel

Our trip home was quite the journey.  Instead of flying directly back to KJO from Zanzibar we instead had to go through the Tanzanian capital of Dar Es Salaam where we had a 3 hour layover.  Then we had a 2 hour layover in KJO before departing back through Ethiopia, then through Dublin to Dulles and finally back to Seattle!  

Thankfully, we met an amazing girl named Becca on our travels home.  She had climbed Kili at the same time as us and we had actually bumped into her at Tarangire National Park as well.  She was one of the girls from the Bay Area I had mentioned earlier in these posts.  She worked at LinkedIn and because she was so good at sales (she had a ton of energy) she was able to take a lot of time off and travel the world.  You could tell how she carried herself she was just fine traveling alone.  I think Eric instantly fell in love.  

When we landed in Dar Es Salaam we got some lunch together at a small restaurant along with some shots and beers and chatted about all our travels.  She seemed pretty awesome and we definitely made sure to get her email.  She was on the same flight with us back to KJO but she had wisely chosen Qatar Airlines instead of us from KJO so she had a much, much longer layover at KJO then us.  In fact she actually had to fly back to Dar Es Salaam from KJO on her way home!  We talked so long at the restaurant that we nearly missed our flight.  One of the agents ran over and asked where we were going and ushered us quickly to the plane!  Whoops!

When we got to KJO we had to once again get all our luggage as they were separate flights and had to wait a little bit to check in as our flights were so much later.  We did stop to get a milkshake together though at a small restaurant before heading to our terminal and saying goodbye to her.  Thankfully, the terminal was air conditioned which felt wonderful after the crazy heat on Zanzibar and waiting in hot rooms to manage luggage.  

The flight to Adis Abada was pleasant as we again were in a new dreamliner jet through Ethiopian.  We even got to see the amazing summit of Kilimanjaro above the clouds as we departed. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a great time in the airport which was much bigger than we originally thought.  We ended up in the main terminal and saw a ton of places to eat and get a drink but the service was terrible (maybe they didn’t like us) and nobody paid attention to us.  When we finally asked for 3 beers and they said $24 we laughed and walked away, choosing instead to sit next to each other and watch a bit of Star Wars.  When we made it to our terminal we found some seats near the wall only to notice a decent sized cockroach crawling up Eric’s leg!  Yeah… 

When we boarded the flight out of Ethiopia we were in some of the upfront seats and I put Emily’s very small day pack in the middle overhead compartment for the middle row seats of the huge plane.  Em asked for something and when I looked up her bag was gone!  I nudged Eric who noticed it was sitting on the ground in the isle as people pushed by it kicking it.  Eric asked the man sitting next to it if he had moved it and he angrily replied yes, it didn’t belong in his specific overhead.  

You can imagine what this led to.  Eric and I going back to our pissed off New York youthful routes and this completely insane man become louder and more irrational.  Soon flight attendants came over and tried to calm him down, noting that they even had a bag in his overhead.  He said, “I have confidential documents that can’t leave my side” and he forced the baggage of the little old lady next to him to be moved to a different part of the plane.  All the while I was laughing at him and mocking him, hoping he would become so enraged he get his dumbass kicked off the plane!  Unfortunately, he remained but thankfully didn’t bother us the rest of the flight.  Shortly after that I noticed a cockroach crawling on the screen of the headrest in front of me…. squishing it with my thumb… yeah…

The rest of the flight was kind of a blur.  Lots of movies, in and out of sleep, landing in Dublin but not departing to get more jet fuel, more flying… 17 hours total in the air if I remember right… Longest flight we’ve ever been on.  When we got back to Dulles and departed we made it through customs awkwardly as I almost lost my day pack full of all my camera gear and memory cards.  I asked an airport employee at a conveyor belt (clearly a foreigner) if the bags would pop out the other end and he nodded.  What he didn’t tell me was that it was for checked baggage only!  By the time I made it to security I realized without any tags my carry-on could be lost forever so I sprinted back to where security had thankfully set it aside for me.  

After grabbing some food the plan was to head to the National Air and Space Museum for a little while and then grab some food and drinks with Brendan and Karen who were living in DC.  We only had about an hour at the museum but it was wonderful to tour around the various huge jets like the SR-71 and planes from both world wars.  I had forgotten that the space shuttle discovery had also been donated to the museum which was amazing to see.  It was far bigger than I imagined the shuttle to be.  

When we got back to the airport we called Brendan to see where they were at but how they described their location was really weird… because they were at the wrong airport!  Neither of us had considered the fact that there was Dulles as well as Raegan in the DC area.  But I did mention that we were going to the National Air and Space Museum I think.. which maybe could have clued them in we were at Dulles.  Regardless, we screwed up and I felt really bad we wouldn’t have time to see them as they were 45 minutes away from us and we had to go to the terminal in about an hour and half anyway.  #FAIL

From Dulles, it was a long, tiring flight back across the United States.  On both the flights to Africa and the way back we always seemed to be traveling over the continents in the dark so I wasn’t able to capture any cool time lapses from the plane window.  When we landed in Seattle I was stoked to see that all our baggage had actually arrived after all our flights.  We made it back to our car at the lot in no time and were on the road with minimal traffic at 9pm at night to make our way back to Portland.  In total from Sunshine Paradise to front door with an excited Leo (Thank you Jason and Jen for watching him over the holidays) it took us 52 hours to get back to our comfortable beds.  Thankfully, we had Saturday and Sunday to rest up and adjust to the timezone before work.  Definitely a trip of a lifetime but we were super happy to be back cuddled up with Mr. Magoo.

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