Saturday, December 19, 2009

Live: 10 Hours in Heathrow

So I woke up for breakfast – I have a nack of claiming free food.

From 11 000 meters up, nothing seems to move below.

The crescent moon was phenomenal.

Touching down in Heathrow my ten hours of waiting, waiting, waiting began. I could have taken the train into London, walked around for a few hours, and then returned back. But for seventy dollars was it worth it? It was less than a year ago (about two weeks less than a year ago) that I walked those streets. A shot of Piccadilly Circus, with the statue no longer under construction would have been nice, but – seventy dollars nice? And it was raining. Lightly – but, raining none the less.

So I stayed in the terminal.

Let me tell you something about Heathrow, Terminal 3: it's a terrible place to wait for anything.

The fact that I have no British pounds, and can't get so much as a soda, we'll not even think of that. But you can't go to gates and hang out – they're closed until right before boarding. So you wait in these giant seating areas with people from all over. It' s busy, it's cramped, and there are no plug sockets anywhere. Well there is a charging station, but you need one of five seats close enough to it to use. And there is a Christmas tree blocking one of them.

Sure I ended up with one, but even still – all the internets were expensive. No free Christmas wifi here. Which is really too bad, I think I could have managed ten hours of interwebs. I was willing to pay six bucks for a day pass, but nine pounds? No thanks. I'll manage somehow.

I feel grimy. I am grimy. I just flew ten hours, transatlantic. And I can't even wash my hair in a sink somewhere, as if it were a Tim Horton's, and I was driving across Canada like back in 2006. All of that stuff was packed away in my luggage, hopefully being transferred to my connecting flight.

Now, I assume there are free wifi access ports around this airport, but where? That's the question – and without an available plug socket to charge up while surfing the net, it becomes a useless endeavor to locate them,

In about a relative day I'll be landing in Cape Town. A day.

Time to stretch out and nap, me thinks. The current time is 11:19am (London). My flight boards around seven thrity, or somewhere there abouts. I can feel myself being a little wacky. There are some seats to stretch out on, just over there. Mission! Sleep mission.

Mission passed successfully.

I grabbed the seats just before a single person sat down in the middle of them. Note, if you're planning on just sitting down by yourself, sit in one of the many seats with armrests, not in the middle of the only bench in site. Well – the only unoccupied bench. There were some other sleepers already.

It's surprisingly easy to fall asleep in an airport, once you've committed to the idea. You just need to make sure your bag is locked, and securely fastened to you, perhaps even used as a pillow. And then throw your jacket that you weren't going to carry on, over you as a blanket, and you're safe and secure.

Now you just need to travel to the land of Nod. A wooden shoe may prove useful here. I slept for three hours, waking up every now and then to check on my flight's status. There had been no change. There had been no progress. There was no news. But – at 14.35 I got myself up anyway, and started to wander around. Too much sleep is not a good thing either.

I thought about giving myself a jump start through the artificial aid of coffee, but I don't need to mess with my system anymore than these flights already will. That and, you know, no money.

I know – I know – I could just change some, or use credit card. But, hey, let me have my excuse. I think my flight will be listed next time the screen updates; my flight being listed will tell me nothing. Well, that's not entirely true, it will tell me at what time my gate will be displayed.

You know what the worst thing is about no liquids on flights? No toothpaste for forty hours. Gross. Seriously.

I wonder what it would have been like if I booked that three connection flight to Africa that would have taken me through Chicago, and Turkey, and – somewhere else? Nope, I'm glad to be here – only having to hang out once, knowing that once I board my next flight, I'll be able to smoothly travel all the way to my final destination. But not the scary kind where roller coasters go astray, and people end up dying in the most peculiar of ways.

Well – I still have my novel, Op Centre, to read. Ninety pages. If I finish it, I can toss it aside and being the load lightening process now-now-now! For hours? Ninety pages. Shouldn't be nothing but a thang. Now lets try to find a quiet little area in Heathrow and set to it.

And – Heathrow... Lots of sleeping – then jumping onto the plane, and then it was plane movie time.

I watched the movie Up... What is wrong with Disney?! You take a sweet kid, have him fall in love with a kid down the street, then they get married – despite parental problems. Fine, that's fine. But then all they want to do is travel, but they can't afford it. Trees fall on their house, things break, and then they grow old. Finally the man buys the tickets for him and his wife anyway, only to have her die right then! And then, the house they made together is threatened for demolishing. Just when you think it's over the terrible, a guy runs over the mailbox the man and his wife made together years ago. And then he whacks the dude on the head, spilling quite a bit of blood (Disney? wow.) And gets sent to court, and loses his house in some odd non-real legal thing.

And then you think the pain is over, until the little boy in the movie reveals that his father doesn't love him, and he doesn't connect all that well to his step mom, and it's just pain pain pain (i left out the part where the crazy immortal hunter almost sets the house on fire. Just too much!)

And then I watched Moon – which was better than I thought it would be, but predictable to the end, except for the last moments. I thought it would play out different – didn't think they'd be so kind.

And that was that, wheels touching down at Cape Town airport.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for letting me "travel" with you this year. I've been to London and to Heathrow -- but that was over 20 years and two back surgeries ago. I love airports and people watching and love imagining their destinations, their family members, etc. Generally I have needlework in my hands and I can sneak a peek at people over my stitches. Having the freedom and finances to travel to wonderful places is a privilege indeed.


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