The longest trip of our lives!
Trip Start Jul 31, 2006
20Trip End Aug 20, 2006
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Well, yesterday was a very trying day to say the least! It started out well... kind of. We paid for an airport shuttle to pick us up early Thursday morning from our hotel. It came 10 minutes early and we thought, "Wow, this is great!" But then they went on to pick up a bunch of other people. With these other people came loads and loads of luggage. We were totally packed in! But we made it on time and there were no other issues at the airport in Turkey...except that Milo almost didnīt get on the flight because they thought that he needed a visa to fly through Germany. His U.S. permanent resident card saved the day for us there!
Upon arrival to Stuttgart, Germany, when we got out of the plane, the door to the airport was locked and there wasnīt a soul in sight. It was weird. No one said anything so we just waited. Finally someone came and opened the door. It was strange and was our first hint that something else was going on. The officer at passport control was thorough, but didnīt give us any trouble. I think that we showed him the permanent resident card again there. From there we progressed to a security check point. It was totally packed and backed up. It was there that we learned about the terrorist activity in London to target the U.S. A German man told us briefly what he knew, which wasnīt much at the time. It took us a long while to get through security, but we made it and got on the flight. The flight to Atlanta was long. It ended up being 9 hours and 50 minutes. There were kids buzzing with activity all around us and two men who became fast friends behind us. They talked the WHOLE WAY! It would have been okay if the one guy hadnīt pounded on his tray table frequenty jostling my seat. I had to eventually ask him to stop, and it improved... a little. I know each of those guys whole life stories! I swear, I know everything!
When we arrived to Atlanta, it was mass chaos. There was an annoucement about the Homeland Security warning level being at orange. It also said that we wouldnīt be alowed to have any liquid or gel type substances in the cabin of the plane. The lines for customs-immigration were so confusing. This one women was yelling for people to go one way while the sign in her hand had an arrow pointing in exactly the opposite direction. Strangly, she didnīt appreciate it when someone pointed this out to her and continued to yell, "People, youīre going to have to help me out here. We want everyone to get through these lines. American citizens go this way..." Our immigration officer asked why we went to Turkey and if we bought anything. He asked us about our professions too. But we passed through without any problems. After passing through we were looking for where to go for connecting flights. But there were only signs to baggage claim. We asked where to go and they said to baggage claim. So we did. When we got there, there were still no signs for where to go for connecting flights. Finally we figured out that we had to go through another security checkpoint. Only at this one, they just let you pass by... Then we were in the right place. But again, what line were we supposed to be in? There were numbers and security and it was layed out really weird. We didnīt have any checked luggage, so we proceeded to the next security check point. This was when I had to go through all of my luggage and throw away all of my liquid and gel type substances. Here is an inexhaustive list of what we threw away: sunscreen, water bottles, Neosporin, anti-itch cream, bug repellant, shampoos, conditioner, shaving gells, toothpastes, perfume, makeup remover, after-sun lotion, lotion, cream acne medication, deodorants, laundry detergent, hair gel, eye drops, and more. We probably lost at least $50.00. I was definatly irrated. Although, we could have kept all of those things if we had just checked our luggage. But Milo didnīt want to because it wasnīt necessary and he didnīt want us to end up with absolutely nothing if it were to get lost. So when we went through the check point, they asked Milo to step aside with one of our bags. They actually went into the bag to confiscate the two chapsticks that we had overlooked when they saw them on the computer screen! Two chapsticks! (But they didnīt get my lip gloss or lipstick!... shhh) Anyway, we finally made it to our gate.
When we got to our gate they were getting ready to board. We hadnīt had any time to look into what had happened in London up to this point and still we were rushed. But there was a TV in the waiting area and I was able to catch some of what was going on. At the very least, I found out why they took all of my stuff! For those who donīt know, apparently the terrorists were going to mix a chemical powder with common liquids in the cabin of the plane to cause an explosion with mass murder as the end result. In my opinion, throwing all of my stuff away was worth it. I mean it was the very day that it had happened. What else could they do quickly and efficiently?
After all of that, I got on the plane to Ecuador and wanted to cry. I was so tired! We had already been on a plane for 13 hours and we still had 5 more to go. BUT!!! And this is the killer... We were missing a whole lot of passengers due to the delays caused by all of the security. So we ended up waiting another hour for those people. Finally they all get on the plane and weīre taxiīing onto the runway. BUT, a storm just to our north has changed the wind pattern and now we must take off from the other end of the runway. The clincher is that there are A LOT of other planes. Weīre talking like about 50 planes. And they all have to turn around, but the good news is that weīre 5th in line. While we were doing that the storm was getting closer and closer and then it hit! We had to shut down our engines to save fuel. We waited 2 more hours before taking off. There were 140 planes waiting behind us!
The flight hit some pretty bad turbulance until we could get away from that storm. My stomach was in my throat a couple of times. But it didnīt last long and we were finally on our way.
We arrived to Quito at about 11:20 pm local time. It was really good to arrive! Praise God!