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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Albania 4: The plane to Rome

[NOTE: This blog/diary of Mykel's Italian-Albanian trip does not start  here. Due to the oddities of Blogging, it appears in reverse order. Much of the reportage is built on the previous day. I recommend reading from ALBANIA ONE, a couple entries before this one.]

AT THE AIRPORT: (Coldsore Day 1)

You know when you get to the airport, how your gate is always the one furthest from the security torture? Yet, you pass other gates. Your flight may be at gate 99Z,but still, there are passengers at gate one. Who are they? Not you? Not me? Then who? Is it a small group of people... none of whom you know? Is it a bunch of props? People paid to make the airport look busy when they're actually going nowhere?

I found out today! I got to the airport several hours early, as is my custom. I went through security, holding up everyone behind me, as usual. [Boots off, hat off, laptop out, extra laptop battery out, trench coat and hat off, belt off, camera and phone pouch off... then reassembling on the other side.] By this time I was starving. First I needed to hike to the gate, just to see where it was. Then EAT something bad and overpriced.

The gate? It's the first one, right next to the security check-in. I can't believe it. That's the first time THAT'S ever happened. OK, now it's off to the food court. Where is it? You guessed it. It's right near the last gate, the one furthest from the security check. So I have to go to the last gate anyway, and then BACK, the length of the airport to the first gate to catch my flight. So THAT'S who is at the first gate. All the passengers who had to walk to the last gate for some reason and were then forced to walk through the airport. So here I sit, typing these words... at gate 15... still about 2 hours to go until boarding. Waddaya wanna bet there'll be a gate change? Now let's see. What's the farthest gate from here?

OK, there was no gate change. This is written on the plane at 11:44 PM NY time, around 6 in the morning in Rome. DONG! I have a window seat. Next to me is an ancient woman who is going to Rome because of a canonization ceremony. Amazingly enough she is NOT fat. Some Belgian priest worked with the lepers in Hawaii DONG! during the 1800s. He built hospitals. Brought religion to the people stranded on the island. And caught leprosy. He is well-known in Hawaii. On board is a crew of Hawaiians attending the ceremony in the Vatican. My hotel is booked DONG in The Vatican. I can imagine it like convention time in Las Vegas... we'll see.

So far on this flight, the Eddie Murphy movie was canceled because of an electronic glitch. They started the movie three times. DONG After each time, the flight attendant DONG comes on the speaker system and says

I apologize, ladies and gentlemen. There is an electronic glitch in the video system. We need to shut down all the monitors and do another reboot. If that DONG doesn't work we'll have to think of something else.

Then, there is THE BABY... of course. Then there was the DONG of a bell calling for the flight attendant. Every four seconds. DONG... DONG... It was on the other side of the plane, and I felt like going over there and belting the kid (I was sure it was a kid) who was playing with the button. Then comes the slightly different DONG (more like a DERR---RONG) of the public address speaker.

I apologize for the stuck call button. There seems to be a problem with the electrical system. I spoke with the captain and he says it happens all the time. So we're asking...crrrrr, sssss, the speaker hisses... I'm sorry. Anyway, the captain said DONG the problem is in an armrest. So we need to ask everyone to put their seats in an upright position and we will reset the switches. That should stop it. If that doesn't work we will shut off the system, but we'd rather not do that in case, you know, someone has an emergency or something.

Apparently, it's fixed now, but I'm wide awake, waiting for the next reboot. I apologize for the failed jet engine....

Oh yeah, while suffering this jetinsomnia, I reread my notes about Albania. Something I missed: Remember, Albanians are overprotective of their women. If you go to clubs, pubs, etc., DO NOT hit on accompanied women. You might laugh at this advice, but it can save your life. Hmmm, maybe this oral herpes will be a life-saver!

OK, but there are good rules too. How about:

When you are offered something, like a drink or a present, by an Albanian be ADVISED that a rejection can be highly offensive. Albanians are very friendly people, especially towards foreigners, but they do not take rejection very lightly. So when offered something, ACCEPT it. The same happens when an Albanian offers to pay the bill. He/she will go to great lengths to have his/her way, so my advice is: DO NOT ARGUE!

OK. I promise not to refuse drinks or argue about someone else paying the bill. That part ought to be easy.

And now to try for a couple hours sleep, we're about 3 hours away from Rome.

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