Even while I squished my frame across the pair of seats below the window looking over the clouds above the Atlantic Ocean, it didn’t feel real.
I’d hugged my family good-bye, smooched my kitties, rapidly re-ran the ‘must-pack’ list through my head (and berated myself for actually packing it all – the kilos add up). Customs were a breeze and off I went. I only had a 45 minute layover in JFK, and the plane was delayed about half an hour. It was pure luck that an experienced traveler just happened to be on the same transfer as myself, or I would have been so blissfully lost I might never have made it.
The 14 hour flight over the Atlantic went surprisingly smoothly for a 14 hour flight. I thought I’d go stir-crazy, but having an empty seat beside me was enough to afford my “elongated structure” a little wiggle room and, despite having significantly less leg room and the disadvantage of not being able to get up and grab a snack from the cupboard, it began to feel more like “a Sunday off” like back when I used to have those. But, I suppose now I have nearly 6 months of those, though I can guarantee I won’t be spending them drifting in and out of naps catching up on blockbusters I never actually got to see in theatres… (and discovering that the opening scene of Dark Knight Rises is not necessarily enjoyable when you are actually in an airplane).
…and then I was in South Africa.
It might be nice to be able to say I was swept up in a profound new reality, but the truth is it felt more like a dream. (That could have had something to do with the overnighter I’d pulled the day before and the fact that I’d by then spent close to 16 hrs on an airplane.) When my pack did not arrive with me (not surprisingly since even we barely made the transfer, and we have legs), was when the reality started to sink in.
My tent was in my pack. My tent was my go-to bubble. But my bubble was not there.
I was concerned that I didn’t have a known place to actually sleep when I hopped my next flight to the Ivato airport in Antananarivo, or a phone number to be contacted at, or any certainty that I’d be able to even access my email or check my baggage status or get my pack at all while in Madagascar, but, after a flight in which I spent most of it in a semi-coma, mouth agape squashed in a middle seat, I appreciated the fact that I was so utterly, wholly and completely outside of my comfort zone. I was in Madagascar.
And, boy, was I grinning.