PASSAGE TO AFRICA
Chapter 5... Outta here!
It is better to travel hopefully, than to arrive.--Anonymous
If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. --Junot Diaz
This blog episode will be posted after my arrival in France... I hope. The entire blog will chronicle the trip first to France, then southward to Gibraltar, then Morocco, then Senegal, The Gambia, back to Senegal and back to New York. At least that's the plan.
My travels can all be mapped digestively.... a road map through my intestines. Every trip moves with peristalsic predictability. Seated porcelain, heated washlet, squatter, ditch. My bowels don't discriminate, but invariably move from noxious vapor, to raisins, to cherries, to caterpillars, to garter snakes, to full-on kielbasas. Of course, depending on the timing and the food, like laboring in the mines-- there are occasional explosions... or complete work stoppages. Fear not, you'll get the details.
I'm trying to decide what can go wrong on my arrival. Of course, when I get there there could be no one waiting for me. I have no idea where to go... but I do have phone numbers. I'll call/text when I get in. They know the arrival time anyway. The airlines can't lose my bags. Everything is in the plane..
I can lose my bags. Forget something on plane. Duty free... ten packs of cigarettes & a bottle of Jack Daniels. I can call and find them at the wrong airport, the wrong time. Flo, the girl who's meeting me has to get to work. The plane will be late. I'll have to wait in the airport until she finishes... 8 hours later. Who knows?
I'm 5 hours early for the flight... as usual. I hate airports, but I always spend more time than I should in them. Once, I missed my flight. Too much to drink the night before. Chicken John was on the couch. Passed out like I was. I think I was going to Chicago. Chicken was going to take me to Newark airport. Flight leaft at 11:28AM.
Bang it hits. You know the feeling. Should you get up in the cold to piss? Or try to fall back asleep and pretend you don't have to piss. First, you say, naw, I'll just sleep. Then you can't and the urge gets greater. Then you decide to get up, but don't quite have the ability to do more than open your eyes. Then, the nausea hits. If you don't get to the bathroom, you'll choke on your own vomit... like Jimi Hendrix. Okay. Okay. You win, you'll get up. You just make it... pray to the porcelain goddess. I just make it.
Coming out of the bathroom I see the clock on the microwave. 11:20. It takes at least ½ an hour to get to Newark. CHICKEN!! GET UP!! NOW! Through his skilled mania, we make it by 11:31. The plane is on the ground, but the gate is closed. Sorry Charlie.
Except for that time, I've always been early to airports. Hours early. When ARTLESS toured Spain, we met at Kennedy the day before, practically. Ask Michael Evens... he'll tell ya! So today, after a bit of duty freeing (more trinkets for the natives), I go to the gate where the plane is supposed to leave. Gate 22, somewhere between the check-in desk and Trenton. At the last minute, there will be a change, and I'll have to run the entire length of the terminal to the new gate. I know it! It always happens. (It doesn't.)
God, do I hate airports. I spend so much travel time in them, but I hate them. I don't hate flying, I hate airports. I hate the expensive bad food. I hate taking my clothes off for “security.” I hate walking down long aisles to gates where the plane will be changed anyway. No matter how early I am, I'll have to run to get to the changed gate.
First world, second world, third world. I hate 'em all.
I'm in Kennedy Airport the most, so I hate it the most. Is it a FIRST WORLD airport? Yeah, it has people mover walkways... BUT THEY DON'T MOVE. Yeah it has internet menus and mounted iPads... but do they work?
And there are pigeons... walking around in the airport, right in the food court where every one eats and fails to use the Delta iPad internet kiosks. There they are, doing their pigeon thing on the carpeted floor.
America's world number may be lower than The Gambia's, but I doubt it should be. First world countries have machines that work... and don't have pigeons walking on the carpet inside airport restaurants
As usual, too many people are on cellphones with too many other people. The acned girl at the next table, on her talking on her iAnnoy while typing on her iPRODUCTPLACEMENT shouts into the smarphone.
He should fuck a train!
It's one of the more enigmatic remarks I've heard recently. Does she mean he should fuck the passengers in a train full of people? Fuck the closing doors of a train? Get fucked by a train entering the chocolate tunnel? Your guess is probably better than mine.
FLASH AHEAD I'm in the plane now. Sitting next to a friendly Italian lady who's going to Paris to change planes for Bologna... meeting her brother... Just finished dinner. Things seem to be moderate. The guy in front of me pushes his seat back... but not all the way. The lousy dinner comes with beer! Not a great choice... Bud lite, Heineken, Corona... but even a daughter is better than nothing... Yeah, the beer has ice in it. It's been frozen and thawed, but it doesn't poison me! The dinner includes saltines with Land of Lakes Fresh Buttery Taste Spread... made with 4% real cream. Wow!
I turn on my computer (acting very slow lately, especially on the porno sites). I figured it must be Norton, anti-virus, installed when I got the thing... I don't want it. I uninstall it... or try to.
It's Avast, my REAL anti-virus software, warning me against something triggered by the Norton anti-virus uninstall. Do you want to run a scan at reboot? Sounds like a good idea. I click YES and figure I'll run the test as soon as I finish uninstalling Norton. I figure wrong. As soon as I click YES the computer shuts down. POW. Restarts, testing. Testing. After ten minutes the screen flashes again
I decide to chest it. Some characters appear on the screen. The names of some programs I don't recognize. Then more names. It must be scanning. I wait ten minutes. A meter on the screen says SCAN 1 PERCENT FINISHED. It does not blink. It does not change either. Another ten minutes:
SCAN 1 PERCENT FINISHED.
I've had enough. ESC and here I am. The clock on the bottom of the computer says 9:45. I guess that's New York time. On the screen above me and on the one in the aisle: Ben Stiller is in Toys R Us in Times Square, looking very grim. I'm not listening to it. I hate airplane movies almost as much as I hate airports. The guy in the seat in front of me just leaned further back. The woman next to me has fallen asleep and I'm gonna have to crawl over her to take a piss.
Ah, back to business.
It's midnight New York time. I haven't slept at all. Maybe shouldn't have had that cup of coffee. I've got one cough a minute coming. Just like in New York. Julien said I should eat two red apples a day. I started the regime just before I left. Mainly for my stomach. I'm taking pills for my stomach. They're supposed to help my cough. They don't. Maybe the apples are helping my stomach... but they're not helping my cough. Nothing is.
I think the guy in front of me has figured out that if he doesn't keep his seat forward, like a responsible economy airline traveler-- I'll cough in his ear. He sits up... glares at me. George Clooney is on the TV screen, or he was... now it's some generic Hollywood blonde with bright red lipstick and teary eyes. I'm glad I can't hear any of it. PRODUCT PLACEMENT: BLACKBERRY... She makes a call.
Now where was I....
The plane lands. We get out and go to customs. THAT'S it, I think. They'll stop me at customs... suspicious guy... tear everything apart. Hold me for hours while they analyze my vitamins.
PASSPORT, STAMP, NEXT.
Uh oh, too easy. All that's left is a simple phonecall. (The airport is huge and it's impossible to locate anyone without multiple where are you calls and texts.)
I leave customs and enter the airport. Time to text Flo Flo and tell her where I am. The airport is huge, there's no way they can find me without knowing where I am. Ah, there's exit 8. I'll text her that I'm by Exit 8.... The phone does not work. I go it a coinphone. Put in a Euro (about $1.50)... two... call the number. Some French recording tells me something. Then BEEP... BEEP... BEEP. My money does not come back.
I'm in Paris and I can't even get out of the airport. Yeah! That's the kind of trip I'm used to.
-- More from Paris later
Note, this is episode 5 of Mykel's adventures. You can read the rest here:
Episode 1 here
Episode 2 here
Episode 3 here
Episode 4 here.