Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Back "Home" (Part 1--Flights & Luggage)

Hi from Nepal!  Yes, we are now back "home" from "home!"  We returned from our vacation so we have been to all three of our homes recently:  Nepal to Paraguay to the USA and back to Nepal.  It was nice to refresh ourselves and visit our families and friends, but it's also nice to be back in the swing of things here in Nepal.  In fact, minutes after we got back here to Banepa, Ramon was called to a surgery (not an exaggeration)!  (But, that's the way he likes it!)

During this vacation, we took nine flights to get to our three destinations--and our luggage didn't arrive with us to any of them!  Yes, three times!  Our first destination was Asuncion, Paraguay (scenes from the plane on that trip are in the previous post.) and we flew this route:  Etihad Airlines from Kathmandu to Abu Dhabi to Chicago (where we switched to American Airlines) to Miami to Asuncion.  Whew!  It was a good trip, but that 15 hour flight from Abu Dhabi to Chicago is a real endurance test!

We enjoy flying on Etihad because their flights go in and out of Abu Dhabi in the evenings and mornings so you can sleep at night!  There is a hotel right in the transit area so we just get off the plane, go a few steps, check in and relax in our room instead of trying to find a quiet area to "sleep" in the transit area's chairs.  This is a real blessing (especially now that we are in our older years!!!).  Last year we flew on Qatar, which is also a nice airline, but we got into Doha (both ways) around 1:00 a.m. and left around 4:00 a.m. or some such schedule.  Needless to say, being able to sleep all night in the transit hotel this time sure was a treat!

This picture is in the hallway of the transit area,

and this is where the restaurants and shops are.  It's nice.

When we left Chicago, we had to sit in the plane for about an hour because of some delay, and this made us somewhat nervous because we only had about an hour and a half to catch the flight to Asuncion, which only goes three times a week, so if we missed it we would have to wait a couple of days for the next flight.  When we finally got up, the pilot told us that the winds were with us and we should be able to make up much of the lost time.  Yeah!  However, when we neared Miami, he came on again and told us that Miami was closed because of a storm and we would have to go to Ft. Lauderdale, fuel up, and wait out the storm.  Great (said sarcastically)!  Now we would miss our flight, but that meant we'd get a mini vacation in Miami waiting for the next flight a few days later!

Well, about the time we got to Ft. Lauderdale, he announced that Miami was open again and we'd make our way there!  Yeah!  (We did already have a mini vacation in Miami scheduled for the return trip, pictures of that next post) so we were happy to head straight down to Paraguay.)  When we landed, we rushed (yes, we became those people who rushed--but we didn't push anyone!) off the plane!  A girl we had met at the gate in Chicago who also was going to Asuncion rushed with us.  They were announcing over the loud speakers that it was the last call to board the flight to Asuncion!  We then became those people who madly run through the airport!  (There are never golf carts when you need them!)

When we sat in our seats and breathed a sigh of relief, I looked around and said, "Where is my sweater?"  That sinking feeling settled in with the realization that in the rush to get off of the other plane my sweater had been left behind.  Of course, it was one of my favorite sweaters!  Oh well, it was just a sweater, right?  At least it wasn't my purse!  I still miss that sweater, but I did find a nice replacement that I'm actually wearing at this moment!

When we got to Asuncion, of course our luggage wasn't there--the connection was too tight for that.  Well, the girl filling out the reports for lost luggage told us that yes, our luggage was still in Miami and we could pick it up in two days when the next flight came in.  Nice to know they knew where it was.  Yes, it arrived right on schedule two days later and my mother-in-law was happy for her gifts!

Later, when we got to Baltimore, our luggage wasn't there either, and again we were told they knew where our luggage was and it would come in two days (again).  Another couple was there in the office to make their claim and we heard them being told, "Sorry, we don't have a clue where your luggage is!"  We smiled and told them, "Well, we hope they find your luggage."  We never found out how long they had to wait.

When we went to BWI (Baltimore Washington International Airport) to pick it up two days later (happy to know that my family could now have their gifts) 
we saw a group of sailors lined up outside.

"Oh, someone famous must be arriving!"

Well, we went inside and saw these guys.  

"What's happening?" I asked.  "Any minute now a group of veterans are arriving to go sight-seeing in D.C.  They're from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam."  

"Cool!  I'm glad our luggage was late and we had to come back today!  Look, here they come!"

This one raised his hand, and full of pride said, "The marines are here!"
It was wonderful!

It was a happy and emotional moment!
It reminded me of that saying, "Everyone has a story," 
as I was sure that we were looking at some very interesting stories!

Fast forward to our trip back to Nepal.  We flew from BWI to JFK (New York City) to Abu Dhabi (where we spent the night again so we were able to sleep well after only a 12 hour flight this time) to Kathmandu.  

Have you heard of the Dubai World Islands?
Here is what they look like from the sky.

When we arrived in Kathmandu we again found ourselves the last ones at the baggage carousel--with no luggage!  According to the law of averages, we should have received our luggage at LEAST once, but it was not to be!  We went to the desk to file our report.  Imagine our surprise when the clerk told us, "Sorry, we don't have a clue where your luggage is!"  Now we were even with the couple from BWI!  (Perhaps I was too smug earlier?)

Well, to make a long story short, we received our luggage two days later (at least each time it was a two day delay, and not the 10 day delay we had some years ago.  One day I'll tell that story!)

Next post I'll show some pictures of our vacation.

Anyway, here we are, back to our third home and back to the swing of life.
We're thankful to the Lord for all of His blessings during our vacation 
and for the wonderful visits with our dear families and friends.

One nice thing about aging is that it's true when they say, "As you age, time goes by more quickly."  So, before we know it, we'll be on our next vacation.  
Hmmm...maybe the law of averages will be on our side then!