Tag Archives: airport

Up, up and away!

21 Jun


I am in St. John’s  Newfoundland for work and due to a cancelled meeting I came to the airport earlier than expected.  I thought I might be able to get on an earlier flight, but due to delays and fees it didn’t make sense.  Instead, I am sitting here beavering away on work bits and of course watching and listening to people around me.  A father travelling with 3 (of his 6 kids) just told one who is misbehaving that ‘a knuckle sandwich was coming his way if he didn’t start listening.’   At airports I see many emotions and behaviours: love, impatientness, crankiness, sadness, anxiousness and totally bizarre bits too (just to name a few).

The last time I was in St Johns I was sitting in the exact same seat I am sitting in right now when quite a raucous broke out.  A guy came barrelling out of the bar making these insane animal like noises.  In just saying ‘guy’ I do no justice in aiding you to understand the situation.  This ‘guy’ was similar in size to John Goodman or John Candy.   A very large guy.  So he comes barrelling out, making said noises and falls flat on his face.  Some airport people came along and called 911.  As people started to take notice a few locals who knew him came by. ‘Ahhh, now see that’s Jamie and he’s been having a rough time lately.”  Rough time lately?  He is at an airport (so for the sake of this story I am going to assume he was waiting to get on a plane).  Jamie drank enough at that bar to put his 300 pound self flat on his face (and someone served him the booze which induced this state). It was highly likely that he was meant to be on my flight. To understand why I was so glad that he was not going to be on my flight I must give you some background info.  A few months prior to this incident I visited my oldest brother in Grande Prairie, Alberta. There are a lot of oil rig workers that come and go through that airport.  A group of guys fresh off a month of work arrived drunk for our 11 am (yes) flight.  I am not sure why they were allowed to get on the flight in the first place, but it happened.  Shortly after take off my worst nightmare happened.  The biggest guy in the group projectile barfed all over the place.  A few times.  It was awful.  Like I am gagging right now thinking of it. One poor old lady who has the unlucky recipient of being hit with his Stand By Me Lard Ass spray was brought to the front of the plane to get cleaned up.  The stewardess said to the lady ‘Do you have a change of clothes in your carry on?’  to which she replied ‘No dear I don’t.  I mean, I wasn’t planning on being vomited on.’ I literally had to teleport myself out of that plane for the rest of the flight. I looked autistic with my nose plugged, eyes closed and head turned toward the window.   I was rather thankful that Jamie was face down on the floor rather than getting on my flight and inducing my ‘in-flight-barfer-PTSD’.

Gosh, Grande Prairie flights have really caused me some trauma come to think of it.  Another flight I took there I was seated in the front row of the plane.  It ended up that a guy who had been airlifted to Edmonton because his barbeque had blown up in his face was coming home and was going to be my seatmate.  Alright.  So he comes on the plane with a full face of dressings and his arms were also bandaged up big time.  It was kind of like being seated next to E.T.  Because we were seated in the front row and it is a small commuter plane we were very close to the washroom.  So he gets settled in beside me and just then an older man made a very anxious and quick beeline for the washroom.  He was in there for quite sometime.  When he came out the worst smell I have ever in my life been exposed to hit me.  I was wishing I was the guy beside me as his nose was all bandaged up so his smell was likely blocked.  My father has been known to make some vicious smells, but this guy trumped them all.   People in the front rows couldn’t contain themselves.  In  unison I heard people say ‘Oh my God’.  Just before the flight was going to take off he made another trip.  Honestly, I don’t know what meal or road kill that man ate to cause that vile assault on my nostrils.  I know there are tickets for violating noise bylaws… this guy should have been given one for breaking a smell bylaw and creating a massive disturbance.

It is close to boarding time now, so I sit here with my fingers crossed for no bodily function dramas on my flight.  If anything happens I will let you know…


I climbed a mountain and I looked around… part 1

8 Oct

The climax of the story is that I made it to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, 5800m. The lead up and aftermath makes for much of the story.

I arrived in Tanzania after traveling for over 24 hours! After getting my Visa I made my way to customs and immigration where the female agent looked at me and said “Oh you shine as bright as a star – beautiful. Welcome to Tanzania!!” I don’t know about you, but this was a very different customs experience than home. Normally they make you feel like you are bringing a body in your luggage and have cocaine shoved up your bum. It was as easy as that! I said good-bye to my seat-mate John and wished him the best of luck at shooting an African buffalo. I walked out to little guy with a big smile and a sign with my name on it. He brought me to a bus with a few other people on it and we peeled out of the parking lot. We arrived at a hotel different than the one I was expecting – they told me my hotel was overbooked and they would bring me to the original one in the morning. Oh, and that I would have a roommate for the night. I made my way to a common area where a little Japanese guy was near to hyperventilating. I noticed that his hand was bandaged up and that he had a lot of dry blood on his hands. I asked him if he was okay – he explained (in very broken English) to me that he had fallen on the street and ripped his hand up and in order to see the doctor he had to use all of the schillings he had and now he didn’t have any cash left as Japanese Yen isn’t accepted in Tanzania. I then acted as a meditator between him, hotel staff, a cook and a German. English, Swahili, German and Japanese. He told me I made him feel much better. I went cross eyed to my room and slept for 12 hours. I woke up to roosters, goats, motorcycles, singing and traffic sounds outside my window. Someone came and picked me up around lunchtime and we made our way to Springlands Hotel. The next morning we departed for Kilimanjaro. I learned about “African Time” – we were told we would depart at 8:30, I think we left around 10:30. We are so schedule based that it took a few days to let go of the need to be “on time” – what the hell does time matter when you are waiting to climb a 5800m mountain? So off we go all jammed into a bus shared with porters who let’s just say don’t wear deodorant. We drove 4 hours to the Kenyan side of the mountain. Conveniently there was a terrorist attack in Nairobi the day of my arrival. I kept thinking about my dear mother who was nervous about my trip in the first place turning on the TV only to see the news cover the story of violence in Kenya. To her the “Kenyan side of the mountain” was near to that mall and so she didn’t sleep all week.
We arrive at the entrance to the park. For 15 of us to go up the mountain we needed 50 support people! At the entrance the porters take all of our luggage, supplies, tents, food and bring it to a weigh station. It was quite the scene but somehow or another they get everything sorted, weighed and divided up among the porters to be carried up the mountain. This is where I really started to respect these people. Each porter carries 50 pounds on their head/back up the mountain for $5 a day. I could write about the people for hours and hours, but for the purpose of this post I will focus on the funny bits of the climb. Due to congestion at the weigh station the porters didn’t get to the campsite before us, so we found ourselves in the dark in the middle of the woods waiting for them to arrive. One by one they made their way to the site, but it was already pitch black, freezing and we were starved! Within an hour they whipped up for us this amazing African stew of sorts. I climbed into my tent and what happened for the rest of the week happened. I couldn’t sleep. For the following reasons: I wasn’t tired due to jetlag, my tent seemed to always be on a downward angle so I found myself sliding down my pad, it was freezing in and out of my tent and I was convinced I could hear wildlife outside of my tent. Over the course of the week I read 3 books, made new playlists and did a lot of thinking. You can’t possibly imagine the thoughts and scenarios that went through my head.
The next day was pretty status quo – 5 hours of hiking. So now I’ve been on the mountain for 2 days and up until now I’ve been whizzing in the bushes and no number two’s have hit yet. We got the next site. The “bathroom” was a tent that had in the middle of it a bucket with a toilet seat on the top. I wasn’t strategic in that I didn’t stand by the tent when it was being set up. By the time I made it there I went inside, flipped open the top and was shocked to see the bucket was full to the top with other peoples “stuff”. It sunk my battle ship. I couldn’t do it. I started to gag, my eyes watered and I got shivers. I quickly made my way out of the “bathroom”, put on my headlamp and made my way into the bushes. It must have been a combination of travel, altitude, change in food, but I think bowel movements (or lack thereof) was the number one topic of conversation. We cheered when Darren announced he had his first, we gave a standing ovation when Tristin finally “went”, high five’s were given as each person made it happen. I, however, didn’t get any high fives. For an otherwise “regular” girl, going 1,2,3,4 days without pooping is problematic. As I mentioned I had a lot of time to think about things in my tent… this continued until day number 5. I was coming back down the mountain with one of our guides Robert. We had a lot of hours together so we were doing a lot of talking when all of the sudden it hit me. It kind of felt like the same amount of force that the tidal bore comes into the Shubenacadie River. I started to sweat and clench my butt cheeks as I thought I was going to shit my pants. At this stage I am above the clouds so there are no trees or bushes anywhere. I said to Robert “Ummmm, Robert I really need to pee, can you walk ahead a little bit?” He did so. I took refuge behind a boulder. Behind that boulder a very dramatic scene occurred. It was a very low moment in my life.

Part 2 will come soon…

Mt Kili Top

Leaving the leopard at home…

20 Sep

So today I am flying to Tanzania to climb Mt Kilimanjaro.  When I first signed up for this expedition I thought climbing the mountain was going to be my biggest challenge.  6 days in total – 4.5 going up and 1.5 of coming down.  Over the past few months I’ve put in MANY miles of walking, climbed numerous hills, done hundreds of Burpees, too many sit ups… you get the picture.  The fundraising end of things wasn’t a big challenge either – so many people generously donated.  I honestly think the biggest challenge has been buying all of the supplies/clothes/equipment.

I have never been one to be overly “technical” in my attire.  In fact, I have been known to walk miles in heels and wear rhinestones while putting in wood.  Kilimanjaro lists have called for pants, shorts, boots, socks all to suit the variety of weather conditions we will encounter. Off I go to MEC and a few other stores to get my goods.  What I quickly realized is this stuff is expensive!  Expensive and BORING looking.  I am naturally drawn to bright colors and I am kind of like a crow – I like sparkly things. Well in order to be “Hiker” it seems I need to be a natural woman and wear tan, taupe, and at the wildest maybe plum.  Putting me into these clothes feels as awkward as bringing my Grandma to see Miley Cyrus twerk and stick her long disgusting tongue out.  Oh and let’s talk about the boots.  They are comfortable, absolutely, however I feel like a dog when its owner puts a jacket on it.  It is like my body reacts to them and wants to take them off.  I was able to find a few “not-typical but still do the job of wicking sweat from my body” – snake skin leggings and bright tops.  I needed to get a sun hat, however, everything I found made me feel like a huge dork.  In the end I found a bright blue number that fits my XL noggin.  I always laugh when people comment on things: a few weeks ago I had a ballgame after work.  I rushed home to drop the dog, grab a bite and get changed for the game.  Maurice got home after me and when he saw me he said “oh you are wearing red lipstick to play ball are you?” To which I replied “oh that is right I need to go wipe the lipstick off which I’ve been wearing all day in order to play ball because that will really change the outcome of the game.”  

The next challenge was the immunizations. Lord, I got pumped with so many vaccines – Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid Fever, Yellow Fever, booster shots and pills for Malaria, diarrhea, and altitude sickness.  I am so paranoid that I am afraid to drink, eat, touch, breath or sleep.  Watch out for the water… watch out for the food… watch out for mosquitoes… watch out for wild dogs… watch out for the sun… watch out for locals.

I honestly think the easiest part of the whole trip will be climbing the mountain.  I remember my brother Dave was studying at Queen’s and he didn’t have a lot of extra money.  He liked to bike but his bike hadn’t made its way to Kingston yet so someone gave him a mountain bike. He heard about a bike group that met and biked to various places in the area.  He decided to join them.  Unfortunately, he didn’t have a helmet either so he popped on his hockey helmet and went to meet the group. He said everyone else had road bikes, spandex, water belts – he had his mountain bike, hockey helmet and some kind of random clothing.  He said “I came there to bike.  I did. And I beat them all.”   I wish I could just wear what I had in drawers/closets, however,  I guess I am forced to only see leopard while on safari.

Away I go!


I will never do that…

8 May

So, I turned 33 on the weekend!  When I say that number it sounds kind of crazy because I don’t feel much different than I did at 22, 26 and 30.  In fact, I really like being 33.  

I remember being younger than I am now and saying “oh I would never do that”, “I would never wear that”, etc.  One specific thing is wearing a purse over my shoulder.  At that time I thought fanny packs were the way to go and having a shoulder purse seemed so “old”.  However, as I got older I migrated towards the over the shoulder version.  I am very strange about expiration dates.  I think this dates back to an elementary school experience I had with drinking sour milk.  In grade two Mrs. Broussard made me drink it and I have been milk scarred ever since. I recall Mom looking at something that was over date smelling it, cutting mold of it and saying “it is fine”.  I would start gagging and being terribly dramatic.  Well guess what?  I now smell things and I cut off mold from cheese.  What has happened to me?

There is one thing I will NEVER do.  Yesterday I made my way to Miami via the Philadelphia airport.  I had about 1.5 hours to spare so I was just strolling around.  Along my stroll I decided to pop into a washroom to have a pee.  This is where it happened.  Why is it that every time I go in an airport bathroom some older woman comes in and literally blows her arse off in the stall beside me?  As in, this women let out a fart that was so loud it nearly lifted me off the toilet I was on. No matter what age I am I will forever be clenching my butt cheeks in a public washroom or at least ensure that I am 100% alone.  That is one thing I will never do.