Today started auspiciously enough at 3 am to the sound of three thoroughly happy dogs digging through my packed luggage and extracting from my backpack the contents of two full bags of beef jerky. Mary alerted me to this as I grunted incoherently from the bed and fell back into my stupor.
At 5:45 though I pulled myself out of bed, tossed my baggage in the trunk of Mary’s car, hugged my furry children goodbye, and set out. Mary dropped me off at Mark’s house, where I caught a ride with him to his Aunt’s house in Canton, and we together rode to Detroit from there.
Pretty uneventful first couple of hours. Before even hitting Lansing I already had twinges of missing my family. Ten days is a heck of a long time! I worry more about the dogs than Mary. Ok, that sounds wrong, but let me explain. Mary, I can at least check in with and let her know that I love her and am fine and will be home soon. The dogs on the other hand will just be confused and sad until they forget about me.
In Detroit we were a couple of hours early for our departure, so I spent the time riding back and forth on moving sidewalk, smelling cologne in duty-free shops, and chomping on gummy bears.
Every time I travel I’m always struck by how big and interesting the world is. There are so many beautiful people. And so many strange ones. People are moving and going about their lives, bumping into each other and responding with either kindness or ambivalence. Everyone in airports has that weird combination of “beaten-down, haven’t slept/ate well all day” and “oh, hey, my life is okay since I seem to be moving around to interesting places” look about them.
I like DTW because it’s familiar to me. I like how it’s generally clean and orderly. I know my way around. I know most people there speak English. I like knowing that if I really had to I could catch some other means of transportation and still be home in a couple of hours.
Our flight left on time, packed to the gills. My “exit seat” was lies, all lies. Really this exit row row only had two true exit seats (the window seats), the others had the exact same leg room as every other seat on the plane. My aisle seat was decidedly not near a window. From now on I’ll chose the window seat regardless of position in the plane.
After my three hours of sleep last night, I repeatedly slumped in my seat while trying to read or watch the in-fight movie (Family Stone). Not for lack of interesting reading material though. I brought along Through Painted Deserts (click the link to check out a few exerpts), which, at least if the first few chapters are any indication, is a great read, perfectly matching the casual observational style of writing that I like with a clear appreciation for the joy of travel. The author argues heartily for the need to travel, to leave, and this just adds to my good feelings about this mini adventure.
Our descent into Houston was a bumpy one, with some exciting pitches and drops, enough to make my stomach turn a few times.
Compared to DTW, Houston’s George Bush International seems to be a bit of a dive. Floors are dirtier, bathrooms smellier, and the air in general just feels thicker to me. Has that slightly fetid muggy caribean air weightiness to it. Though I suppose it could just be circumstancial due to the overcast weather today.
We had a about a two hour layover in GBI which I spent recharging my iPod, reading, and watching airplanes.
After boarding the connecting flight to Lima, Peru, I finally had my first real feelings of truly going somewhere, of actually being pointed in toward a destination, rather than bouncing from one transit point to the next. The discussions on board between passengers centered around what everyone was planning on doing/seeing in Peru. First time? How long? Etc. Definitely a greater sense of anticipation in the air.
I don’t remember much from the Houston to Lima flight. Had a window seat with a wall to lean against. Had a blanket. Had a fluffy pillow. Had a four hour nap.
I do remember in short order figuring out (and being nicely proud of myself) who the Federal Air Marshall on board was. Well-dressed, tan, last guy on the plane. He took a picture of the full plane as he walked down the aisle. Also noticed him earlier in the day chatting up one of the security guards.
In flight movies were “Walk the Line” and some western movie with Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster. I caught about twenty minutes of each. The Mel Gibson movie cut out right before its ending as our plane descended. I’ll never know if he got his money back.
Also caught a brilliant red sunset glowing through the clouds on the horizon. It seems to maintain its intensity and red richness forever. Probably had to do with our SE bearing. Racing the sun.
Everyone in the back of the plane clapped when we landed in Peru. I don’t know if I slept through some crazy turbulence or if they were just happy to be at their destination. Either way it was a pretty robust show of enthusiasm at midnight after a six-hour international flight.