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Rosie and Harry are in the air and ready for adventure but it is not going quite as planned.
Will they even make it to London or stay in the Dubai airport for a while longer?
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Chapter Two – Transit
Harry apparently didn’t know something about his travel identity that was not listed in National Geographic or his Lonely Planet Guidebooks – he gets airsick. Very airsick.
Harry had finally stopped jittering, and I had watched his face turn from pale to ashen as take-off proceedings began. He had sat tentatively holding a sick bag in his right hand and half a bottle of water in the other hand. Outside is dark and the lights of the city shine up at his grey pallour reflection in the glass window.
Time for me to concentrate on the trip itinerary I thought as there isn’t much I can do to help Harry right now; this big chunk of metal is going up into the sky now whether he is enjoying the experience or not.
The plane speeds faster and faster until the engines are roaring and our seats are vibrating with the force. Then we lift, just the tiniest bit at the front and softly, smoothly and with a sense of keen grace, we are up and airborne and it feels so good.
I watch as Harry’s face blends into an expression of surrender and relief.
I show Harry the little map on the headrest of our seat that shows our tiny little plane flying over Australia’s coastline, where it will eventually begin its long journey first to Dubai, then our very first-holiday spot, London, England.
I accept a cup of tea from the air hostess, in practice of drinking a LOT of tea when we reach England and Harry sips his icy water. We discuss where we both want to go during our London stay. First, we would check in to our cheap but cheerful backpacker hostel. Then there is a short list of places we absolutely must see and get tourist-type photos taken of ourselves in silly stances.
On our London wishlist is:
- Visit Canterbury Cathedral
- Eat proper English fish and chips in Hyde Park
- See a play at the Shakespearean Globe Theatre
- Ride a big red double-decker bus around the city
- Ride the Big Wheel and try to rock the gondola
I’m excited but tired by the late-night flight. It’s hard to get comfortable, but I have found a spot if I curl up tight. “Well Harry, I think we can manage all this, let’s sleep on it”, I say.
They were the last words I remember saying until a flowery perfumed air hostess woke us both up at Dubai International Airport. She kindly smiles and says, “please, please, wake up. They are trying to clean the plane, and you will miss your connecting flight to London”.
Oh my, LONDON! It is all rushing back into my head – we are on the plane, we fell asleep, oh my gosh “get up Harry, get up we have to go right now!”
A man with a vacuum backpack ushers past us cursing something as he sucks up a random spread of cheese chippies from the floor. We throw our backpacks onto our backs and head out the door, smiling quickly at the air hostesses all formed in a line bidding a beautiful farewell by the exit door.
Running up the exit ramp, we scamper into a great big long airport hall that seems to house a thousand people or more. It is many stories high, long and narrow with shops down the sides and great big glass chandelier lights high up that appear over thirty feet across in width.
Harry checks the departure screen, finds our gate number and grabs me by my elbow, tugging me along the way we need to go. I pull out my boarding pass and passport while he checks the local clock and then Harry says: “Rosie, we have exactly fifteen minutes left for boarding our plane at Gate number 43”.
Which troubles me, as we are standing at the end of the long airport outside gate number 2. Glad I wore my sneakers!
We grab our bags and run for it. I try hard not to knock over any young children with our urgent ‘EXCUSE ME’s, but this is a serious situation, we are going to London for the very first time and nothing, I repeat nothing is going to stop us now!
We eventually arrive at our gate number, which is empty. We can see the backs of boarding passengers and hurrying flight attendants down the boarding tunnel. There are two attendants standing at the check-in desk typing and talking.
Harry takes out his boarding pass and passport then turns to look at me and catch his breath from our sprint. I laugh that we have made it in the nick of time. I reach into my pocket and pull out my boarding pass.
I reach deeper in and fumble around for my passport – the one with the shiny red travel cover just to jazz up all that tedious travel documentation a little.
But my fingers just feel the inside of my jeans. I pull open my pocket, pushing my hands to the bottom until my hand touches my knee.
Uh oh, uh oh uh oh!
“Um…. Harry” I quietly say, trying to stay calm.
Harry looks at me warmly, but then his face falls flat “No, Rosie, No…..don’t tell me you lost……no…..?”
“I’m sure it’s not exactly lost, just a little misplaced.”
The attendant turns to Harry and requests his boarding pass and passport.
He looks at me desperately. “Excuse me one moment,” he says to the attendant.
We step out of line, and both start searching the floor for my passport.
“Harry, I KNOW it was in my pocket, I put it right here, so I could take it out easily. I only took it out when we checked the gate number on our boarding passes….at Gate 2!”
I turn to the gate entrance desk. The queue has completely gone now. All the other passengers are sitting in their seats and waiting on those pesky final boarding request people. Us.
I hastily explain to the attendant that I may have dropped my passport at Gate 2. He haughtily looks at me, asks my name and then flicks a button on his little silver microphone. He calls out a message over the loudspeaker in words I didn’t understand, except for my name. It is probably better I did not know precisely what the attendant says as the stress may have tipped me over the edge.
We are requested to sit and wait. Then a phone call is made to the cockpit of our international jumbo jet sitting outside waiting for us.
We sit….and wait…for over twenty minutes and I don’t think I have any finger nails left to bite.
The attendants quietly tidy up, put away their documents, then they too sit and wait.
A huge, loud ride-on vacuum cleaner comes along and tidies up the remnants on the blue stripy carpet where fellow travellers have left their discarded crumbs and wrappers.
I sit with my head hung low.
My main memories of Dubai are of vacuum cleaners and attendants hurrying us along. I dearly hope by the time we get to London, if we get to London, I’ll get better at these hectic transits between airports.
I daydream of us confidently transferring from the entry and exit gates as seasoned travellers by the end of our trip. It might make Harry a little less inclined to give me that look he is giving me right now.
Once we reach London, it will be different.
But I am still thinking if we get to London?
In the distance, I hear a beep-beep as a little golf cart drives hastily along the blue stripey carpet. The bright lights are flashing like on an emergency vehicle and people are moving out of the way fast.
The vehicle is heading our way and getting closer. Wait! Is that what I think it is on his dashboard? A little red vinyl square with my passport inside? Please let it be.
He pulls up to a stop in front of us, and oh yes, there’s my delinquent passport. The attendant rushes over, opens it and asks to confirm it is my passport.
Yes, yes, that is definitely my delinquent passport, I say.
He processes our documents and ushers us quickly through the doors. We enter a long downward-leaning tunnel and at the bottom is another attendant yelling, “hurry, hurry, run, run, run, run!”
We bolt down that tunnel and into the open door of the plane. As we walk down to find our seats, other passengers are glaring at us, but we don’t care. We made it. We are on the plane.
Did I mention we are proper travellers now, heading to London? Yes, we are about to become very travel-savvy. As soon as we work out the finer details of connecting flights, we shall be master travellers, I am sure.
Perhaps a travel company will ask us to write guidebooks on our smooth travel skills?
Well, okay, maybe not.
The safety speech finishes, and the plane starts to shimmy up its speed. Harry furtively looks for his bottled water and his sick bag again. I close my eyes, take a deep breath and think fond thoughts of London.
That’s the place. It’s all going to work out fine there.
I’m sure of it….what else could go wrong, right?
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