I had been increasingly excited about flying out last Thursday for a Collette Vacations familiarization tour of India! India was probably my first “dream destination” as a child, to see the Taj Mahal! This was a great opportunity to go there, and explore the possibility of escorting a group to India sometime in the future.
Do you ever have a premonition that something isn’t going to happen? I had some feeling that this tour might not happen, for terrorism reasons, or some other undefined cause. So I didn’t tell people much about it, or even get my visa until the last moment. But when we got about a week away, I was pretty confident.
HA! So after my usual pre-trip packing frenzy, we flew out of Portland early last Thursday morning to JFK for a connecting flight to Brussels. Suitcases full of items to give to Mother Teresa’s Ashram, which the Collette Foundation supports, and visits during tours. After an uneventful flight, we made our way to Terminal 8, for a Jet Airways flight to Delhi.
That’s the first we heard about the impact the volcano in Iceland was having on the world! Our flight was cancelled until the next morning. About 18 of us in the Collette group met at the terminal, in phone contact with the Collette offices. THAT’S why I travel with a cell phone, even for use only in the States! (Note to self: Next time, pack the phone charger in your carry-on!)
By that time, the Collette office already had a motel reservation in place for us–finding some of the last rooms in the airport vicinity. We’d leave our luggage checked for the hoped-for flight the next morning. Transportation was on it’s way! The lodging was a Super 8 motel, in Jamaica, NYC–which turned out to be clean and comfortable. Much better than a night in JFK on a cot! John & I walked a few blocks down the street to a deli for a sandwich for dinner–the cashier laughed and said “You aren’t from around here, are you?!” She knew as soon as we’d said a word! She was so friendly, and sorry that we were having a trip delay. (One of those tiny interactions with a local person that just makes your whole day better!)
Friday proved to be a hectic day for the airport. All flights to Europe cancelled to avoid the risk of flying through the volcanic ash. Collette determined at noon to cancel the trip, and quickly arranged flights home for all of us. By 11:00 PM, we were home in Washington State, watching the news!
A long way to go for a night in a Super 8 and a Rueben sandwich!
Now we just hope the trip can be rescheduled before our visas expire! And all sympathy to the many, many travelers still trying to reach their destinations. I hope they have found a friendly person knowing “You’re not from around here, are you?” and providing some peace in the journey.