11:00 am Waiting
We have arrived at the Madrid Barajas airport for our 2:00 departure. However, with the coming of Hurricane Irene, it looks like we will encounter a little turbulence on our way back to the US. The New York airport is already closed and the Boston airport will surely follow. However, British Airways will not reroute us until it is certain that the airport will be closed. We will gather back in our meeting place in half an hour for further details.
Sleeping Bags and the Floor…Sound familiar? It looks like our sleeping bags will be put to use beyond our time at WYD. Most likely, we will fly to London, but will be detained there due to the weather in Boston (our final destination). So, we have been instructed to carry on our sleeping bags, a change of clothes, and toiletries just in case we stay in London. On the bright side, we can say that we have been to London (which makes the 10th country for me) and we have more time to write postcards.
1:30 Peaceful Sitting
Our plane to London should be boarding soon. For some, this could be a stressful situation, but everyone is in good spirits and very much at peace. Why let the time pass worrying? On this Pilgrimage of Peace (the name of our pilgrimage), we have had many opportunities from the beginning, and it looks like through the end, to exercise the virtue of peace.
We’re off to London. So far there are no flight cancellations. It seems that I won’t be blogging over night about adventures in the London airport.
7:00 Still Flying
From our London flight we were directly escorted to our Boston flight. When they announced our flight number, calling attention to all Boston and Washington Dulles connections, we thought they were going to say that our flights were cancelled because of the hurricane. However, instead, they announced that we were to be the first ones off the plane in order to make our next flight. On the way to our next plane, the British Airways representative told us that we were the only flight to leave from London to the east coast of the United States that day. I guess you could call us lucky or that God is definitely watching over us. It was a tight connection, but since we are a fourth of the plane they would never leave us even if we were late. There’s been no mention of delays or weather changes. It looks like we will be landing in Boston before Hurricane Irene lands. I guess we will not need our sleeping bags after all.
We arrived without any emergency water landings, although we did pay extra attention to the safety and evacuation procedures just in case. When we landed it was just about midnight for our biological Spain clocks, so we were all a little out of it when we arrived to customs. I approached the police officer situated comfortably behind his desk in line 10. He took my passport and began the routine questions.
“Mam, where are you from?” he asked in a monotone voice. After being at WYD with thousands of people from all around the world, I was used to saying, “the United States.” I hesitated. “Ummm. You mean where I am from or where I came from?”
“You’re thinking too hard about this. I just wanna know where you’re coming from.” I was concerned that he was getting annoyed with me. So, I just gave him the spiel of the places I’ve been in the past year.
“My family lives in Georgia, but I go to school in Rhode Island and I’ve been visiting Spain and Portugal for two weeks.” That should hit the nail.
“Okay…are you carrying food with you?” I momentarily thought about my FiberOne bars and my packaged crackers, but on a second thought, maybe I should just leave them out of the picture.
“Postcards.” I answered in an unintentionally abrupt tone.
“Are you traveling with anyone?” I’m sure he’s heard the usual, “with my friends, by myself, or with my family,” However, I don’t think he was expecting mine.
“Oh, yah. About 45 other people.” I said this in an extremely casual manner as I have been used to encountering groups bigger than ours throughout the pilgrimage.
“45?” He blinked a few times. He looked a little tired too. “Oh, are you with your school? School trip?”
“Yep,” I said, thinking that the more abrupt I was the sooner I could get through.
“Alright. That’s all. You can go.”
At least I could understand what he was saying. On the way to Spain, in the Madrid airport, the customs officer asked me in Spanish, “Who are you going to see?”
“I’m not really going to see anyone in particular,” I thought to myself.
“Vas a ver el Papa?” he asked. I hadn’t made the transition to Spanish yet so I stalled enough to where he understood that I had no clue what he was saying. The other customs officer looked over and smiled as if they had asked the same question many times before. It wasn’t until I was almost out of the airport when I realized that he asked me who I was going to see because I had a shirt on (like all of ours) that had the Facebook thumbs up with “Like Pope JMJ” written on it.
I think that the best cure for our deliriousness is a restful night in the horizontal position. Although I did enjoy Spain, it’s good to be back in the US, where there is free wifi everywhere, outlets that don’t require complex adapters, and people whom you can just go up to and ask a question without mentally translating it first.
Our pilgrimage has come to an end and so has this blog. However, I’ll save my farewells for tomorrow when I have more time to think and reflect. I’m not exactly my full thinking capacity at the moment. So goodnight for now.