Friday, January 16, 2009

0 Degrees, Not in Ghana

Well, this has been my worst travel day ever. I'm in an airport hotel in Detroit, MI, where it is 0 degrees outside. My next flight (to Amsterdam) doesn't leave until 4pm tomorrow. I'll arrive in Ghana at 7:30pm the next day. That will be about 48 hours total travel time, assuming no more flights are delayed.

My fight from Tulsa to Detroit was supposed to leave at 5:10. They posted that it would leave at 5:19 instead. Fine. Except that we didn't leave until 5:55 (6:55 Detroit time). The flight was 1 hour and 50 minutes, which would have put me getting into Detroit at 8:55pm for a 9:17pm international departure. The flight attendant assured me I'd make it, "no problem." Yeah right. Maybe I would have, except...

The flight sat on the tarmac for another 10 minutes after landing before we pulled up to the gate. Then we waited another 5 minutes for the gate-checked luggage (small plane with small overhead means your carryon gets put underneath at the gate). Then my carryon wasn't in the bunch. They found another bunch. Mine wasn't there either. One more piece they found. That one was mine. By this time it was after 9:15. I was absolutely frigid because the air-gate thingy isn't heated and it's 0 degrees outside, and I'm dressed like someone who's going to Africa. Off I go.

Some guy that worked at the airport said he couldn't call to tell them I was on my way. "Either it's left and you missed it, or it's delayed and you can catch it. You've got to get to concourse A before you can find out what gate it departs from." So I'm crying but holding on to hope that the flight is delayed. I have to pee, but don't dare take the time. I start running. All 200 pounds of me, plus my 25 pound backpack. I run on the "moving sidewalks." I suck wind big time. No longer frigid, now I'm dripping sweat. And crying. Yep--of course people were staring at me!

I make it to the departures information and see that of all the delayed flights today, my flight to Amsterdam is listed as "on time" leaving at 9:15 (two minutes EARLIER than scheduled). I start crying harder, but hold on to some tiny hope that it's still there. It's 9:25pm. I get to gate A30 and it's gone. I can't hold it back. I was SOBBING. My Ghanaian friends would be so embarrassed to see me like that! The attendant was still there. She is sympathetic but says there's nothing she can do. She prints out my itinerary. "It's only a day.", she says. Whose day lady? MY day! And entire DAY of extra travel! But maybe people who choose to travel for a living don't see that as a bad thing. My flight leaves tomorrow at 4pm from Detroit. Then I have a EIGHT hour layover in Amsterdam before getting into Accra Saturday night at 7:30pm.

I walk off, still sobbing, get to the end of a section of "moving sidewalk" and call Eric. I get another good cry out. I just want to go home (and did ask about it, but it would have been a completely wasted ticket to Ghana and I can't afford to pay AAI back for that).

I noticed a sign for "hotel" as I'm walking, and the Westin appears as if it were a spring in the desert! I walked up--all blotchy faced and sweating from my run--and ask if they have any rooms. Yes, the do. Which do I want? "The cheapest you've got." She writes down a room rate of almost $300. I guess I'm naïve because never in my wildest dreams did I imagine a room would cost that much. She must have seen my face drop and jumped in with, "But we have reduced rates if you're a member of A, B, C, or D, club." Nope. I don't belong to those clubs. "What about the company you work for?" she says. I tell her that's a no go. "I just work for a non profit. An adoption agency." I say. She said, "Well, that sounds like the government rate to me!" and plunked down a room rate of $107. God bless her. Seriously. I hope He does.

So now I am in my hotel room, overlooking the concourse that I will fly out of tomorrow. Overlooking the very gate that my plane took out of earlier tonight. I ordered some way too expensive room service, called and cried to Eric and my mom some more, and am now writing this email not knowing when it might go out.

I realized that the wonderful aisle seats that I had on my original ticket have probably been replaced with middle seats. I can't tell you what a huge issue that is for me. Tears, just for that. I can't tell you how disappointed I am to have an 8 hour layover in Amsterdam. I had this nice, perfect, 2 hour layover before. My butt is going to ache for days!

I still have much to be thankful for, even though I feel completely beat down right now. I'm thankful for the extra pair of underwear I bring in my carry on! I'm thankful that I'm stranded in Detroit rather than Dakar (I'm betting there are no airport hotels in Dakar). I'm thankful for my cell phone--because I really needed to hear my loved ones tonight. And I'm most thankful that this didn't happen on the way home. Being delayed from home would be so, so much worse.

If you get this before I arrive in Accra on the 17th at 7:30pm (local time) please say a prayer for me. There are still several more trials to go before I'm finally there. I love Ghana, but I hate traveling.

My trip to Volta (HardtHaven) will now be canceled. Maybe there will be a way to reschedule for another day next week.


Laurel 12:32 PM  

I am sooo..... sorry!

I LOVE going places, but I do not enjoy the "getting there" part either. Delays. Running Through Airports. Stress. Not fun! I had a similar situation in Chile in September, and couldn't find anyone that spoke English. Tough! I slept on a couch in the executive lounge for 6 hours. It's free for First Class passengers, but they let "lower-class" people pay $30/day to use the lounge. Maybe you can find one on your 8 hour layover.

Thankful that the nice hotel lady gave you a government rate. Can't imagine a $300 hotel room. Yikes!


Laurel :)

Hope you can line up another time to go to HardtHaven. I've wondered how they are doing there. I haven't been in contact with Joy for awhile.

Amy 2:29 PM  

Oh Anita! I'm sorry girl! What a icky delay to your already time-crunched trip. I'm praying for you and hoping that everything else goes smoothly my friend!


Nicole Anderson 4:34 PM  

I am sorry your travel has been so difficult. I have a couple of questions that have been on my mind. When you have time would you mind emailing me.

Zimmerman family 5:24 PM  

Our thoughts and prayers are with you Miss Anita! Sending you lots of love.

Hilda :)

Nadia 8:27 PM  

ugh!that sucks..we missed our flight in florida after our flight out of Haiti was delayed a couple of hours..when we got to florida they were soo kind, they rebooked us with our choice of flights the next day, gave us hotel vouchers(for TWO rooms) and food vouchers for 5 meals x 5 ppl) why did you have to pay for your room?? it was their delay?

Emily B. 9:31 PM  

I am so sorry! There is nothing worse than an unexpected delay; especially after you so diligently planned out the "perfect" itinerary with your favorite seats and so forth. Travel safely. And remember- it's gotta get better from here!

Bingaling 9:53 PM  

Oh Anita!! I'm so sorry!! I'm with you - I LOVE going places...but the traveling part stinks! Especially because its so unpredictable. Praying that you recover quickly from this set-back.
Hang in there!!

Kristin Jag 10:00 PM  

I am very sorry Anita! Hopefully you are sound asleep now and tomorrow is a new day! I hope you have a wonderful weekend when you get there.

Kristin 10:31 PM  

I'm praying for peace and comfort and NO MORE DELAYS!!!! Sorry this trip has started out this way. Thanks for sharing your struggles - it's nice to know how to pray for you as you go.


Ginny and Ben 12:35 AM  

Oh, Anita - I have been there before! I will add 'an aisle seat for Anita' to my prayers tonight because I DO understand how much that affects whether or not you actually rest.

Grace 1:46 AM  

48 hours of airplanes and airports! Ugh! Not the way you wanted to spend a trip. I'll be praying for you lots--tonight, tomorrow, and the rest of your trip!

whenpigsfly 6:20 PM  

OH my!!!!!! Too busy to get near my computer till just now. I have been praying for you but maybe I didn't pray specifically enough for the right outcomes??? Praying taht you DID get to Accra with no further delays andthat you have a very productive time, YES even that you'll fit in a trip to Hardthaven!Hugs