30 March 2008

not a morning person

I left the Netherlands early Thursday morning. I had to be at the airport at 6:30 a.m., so my aunt and uncle and I woke up at 5 a.m. I raced about readying myself and packing for 25 minutes and at about 5:25 I finished braiding my hair (couldn't wash it; wanted to conserve water) and turned the lock to open the bathroom door. It's hard to explain this lock; it is old-fashioned and looks something like a deadbolt, but with a little sliding piece that goes into the door frame and seems to be connected to the knob by a spring. I turned the knob, and it turned, and then it just kept turning and turning. Without opening the lock. So I pulled on the little sliding piece, trying to pry it out of the frame, but the spring was still in there somewhere, albeit not connected to the knob, and keeping the sliding piece locked.

I looked around for any useful utensils for prying, but there were none. I started knocking on the door. I was up a floor from my uncle and aunt, and they thought I was packing, so it took a while for them to realize that the knocking was not clattering about but actual need for assistance. Unfortunately, there was nothing they could do. The gap under the door was too narrow for any tools to be passed to me, the hinges were on my side of the door, and the nail file and scissors to which they directed me were useless in attacking the lock.

Then suddenly my uncle went off down the stairs. "Where is he going?" I asked through the door. "To get a ladder," my aunt said.

And so I climbed, in my socks, in the dark, over a slippery wet roof covered with clay roofing tiles and down a cold metal ladder, before six a.m. I have to say that I still made it into the car by 5:46, only one minute after our intended departure time.

I just keep hoping that I left the window far enough open that Oom C. could get back into the bathroom, since we had to leave it open to go to the airport. I thought he was saying to close the window, but he turned out to be saying NOT to close it, so that it wouldn't be locked.

It was the start of a really long day, is all I'm going to say about the ridiculous, needless delays and cancellations and lost luggage and the fact that Northwest Airlines has lost all sense of customer service and I will be paying extra to avoid them in the future unless they provide some serious compensation in response to the angry letter I am composing. I got to my parents' house in Michigan more than 24 hours after I left C. and D.'s house in the Netherlands. And only 10-11 of those hours were flying. And 6 extra of them were spent in the armpit hair of the armpit of the earth that is the B Terminal at the Detroit Wayne County Airport. (I hate that airport. Have I given my rant here yet about how they invented the hub and spoke system for a reason and there was no good reason to abandon that and turn an airport into one interminably long tube? No? Well, you are in for a treat someday when I get around to it.) And my luggage got to my parents' house much later even than I did, for no reason but sheer airline incompetence.

Somehow, though, I made it back to Gone West, extremely sleep deprived and having been resident in 4 different time zones across a span of ten of them in less than five days. Now I have a chaos of bike, in pieces, and various strewnnesses of Ethiopian scarves across my apartment, and somehow I have to sleep and work on a Pacific Daylight Time schedule when my internal clock thinks day is night and night is day.

I might be seriously regretting having left Ethiopia.

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