Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 1: Road Blocks

Nov 5, 2011
We got up pretty early and Kyle and the boys took me to the airport in Indianapolis. The plan was to fly into Dulles in the early afternoon and have a pretty hefty layover before getting on the flight for Ghana. The thought being if I was delayed that I would make it on time.

It was a good plan. I settle into the waiting area and hear people next to me talking about going to India. I gather that they are from the same church going on a mission trip. We become fast friends and travel companions. We share some of our plans for our trips. They have to keep their trip very secret because Christianity is illegal in India.

Our plane gets to the gate. Boarding time is approaching quickly and things seem to be going according to plan. Until very shortly before we are scheduled to board. The announcer says that there is a mechanical problem on the plane and that the flight will be delayed a half an hour. Then an hour. Then they have to fly in a part from Chicago to fix the plane. Then the mechanics will take an additional hour and a half to fix the issues. My friends and I were running back and forth trying to figure everything out and if we will make our flights on time.

They were re-routed because they were never going to make their flight. I asked to be rerouted but there was no time to get my checked luggage to Toledo before that flight left. We were all given food vouchers and told to hold tight. They still thought that I would make my connection.

At some point I called Tia only to find out that JD had a serious issue in Portland with her flight and that she barely made it on the plane on time. Her ticket was revoked. Prayers were being sent up everywhere for me to make my flight on time. Because I was going to Ghana.

The flight boarded 6 hours late. Right before we boarded I met Abba, from Ghana. She was going home after spending 2 months with her daughter and grandbaby. This was her 2nd attempt to get home. Her flight on Thursday was cancelled. She was very upset. I spoke to her and told her where I was going and what I was doing. She said God would bless us and get us there in His time. She sat right in front of me on the nearly empty plane.

The flight attendant told me he didn't think we'd make our flight. Panic sat into my chest as I thought about what I would need to do. I prayed.

The flight got to Dulles before our international flight took off. I grabbed my luggage and Abba's luggage and got us to the correct gate right as the plane started boarding. I broke off and joined my friends and we breathed a deep sigh of relief.

But as we all joke now, we prayed a bit too hard that I would make the flight on time. We boarded and everyone got settled in. Luggage was mostly put up and the last of the people were settling into their seats. This is when we get an announcement that we need to deplane because there is a failure in the hydraulic system.

Darn! We deplaned and waited for word on our flight. After maybe 20 minutes the flight crew came off the plane and I knew the flight was delayed until tomorrow. 10 minutes or so later we get the announcement that confirms that. Plane is delayed until tomorrow at 4pm.

We are directed to go get hotel and food vouchers. We picked them up and traveled to the shuttle pick up area. It was a LONG haul. It was also COLD in DC. And we were dressed for a flight landing us in Africa. So we waited. And waited. We made friends with some Ghanaian's who were super flirtatious.A sweet woman wrapped a scarf around my legs. A blanket was given to a lady with a small baby by JD. I called the hotel to tell them they needed to send more than one shuttle because there were easily 50 people still waiting for the shuttle to the hotel. Nearly 2 hours later we finally get onto a shuttle.

We get to the hotel and there are 40+ people in line in front of us. We wait patiently. We chat with people. I am getting my 2nd wind as the time approaches 2am. When there are still 20 people in front of us an announcement is made that they are out of rooms and we have to go across the street to another hotel. Seriously?

We walk across the street in the cold. Mostly everyone is beginning to feel the effects of the lack of rest they have had over the course of the day. We get to the Westin... and the very sweet, go with the flow Ghanaian's start to get pretty angry when they hear we can't use our food vouchers on breakfast the next morning. Given what we had gone through and how a group of mostly Americans would behave had this happened to them... I thought the group we were in was pretty kind and tolerant. But you don't put up a Ghanaian and NOT feed them.

A woman drops her duty free bag of wine and it breaks all over the ground. Filling the air with the smell of dry wine and looking on the ground like someone got into a bad accident and was drug away across the ceramic tile. I thought the smell was nice. Other people not so much. We finally get up to the front and are handed our room keys. We get to our room at 3am and I lay on the bed and fall asleep in a matter of moments. Thankful I didn't miss my flight but unsure of why things worked out this way.

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