Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Leaving on a jetplane, the saga begins

(the first of a series of stories on my French-Italian holiday)

Monday, October 29.

I arrived at the Vancouver International Airport at 1 pm, more than 3 hours before departure time. Inside the terminal, I stood at an empty check-in counter right beneath a wall poster that said Zoom Airlines. I was the first in line.

Standing there, I took out my binder of chronologically arranged tickets, train and hostel reservations, travel insurance and notes on Italy and France and spent the next hour reading and re-reading the printouts. I was rather amazed at how the whole itinerary came together in so short a time without the help of a travel agent. Truth be known, I did not fully understand what I was doing. Things just fell into place in spite of my ignorance.

An hour later, I was still alone at the empty check-in counter. I walked around pulling my roller bag behind me. Ooops, wrong counter! See, I didn’t even know how to properly check the flight counter assignments.

We boarded the plane on time at around 4:45 pm, and soon after I settled in my seat, I fell asleep. The drone of the plane’s engine does that to me. Several minutes later, after the plane had been rolling toward the runway, I heard the pilot say that we were taxiing back to where we came from. Some problem with the small sensor in the wing flap. Minor delay, I thought.

This minor delay turned into two hours. You could sense people fidgeting in their seats. Finally, we were told to disembark while the problem with was being fixed. We have time to catch our night train to Venice, I said to myself. It’s still okay.

When the waiting dragged on, I began to get anxious. Oh no, we could miss our train! And Gino was arriving from Provence to meet me at the airport. What will he do? Where will he go? I started to pray and plead and beg the Lord, pleaaase let us leave soon!!!

By 9 pm, I was calling home and sending text messages to Gino to apprise everyone about the flight’s situation.

“Be prepared to change our plans,” I told Gino. I felt a sense of frustration that turned to resignation. But what can I do?

Finally, at 10 pm, we were told that our flight had been cancelled and that we were going to be bussed to the Richmond Inn where we would spend the night.

I thought I had my ducks in a row, but I got the wrong ducks, I told myself. Can’t be too proud. “Man makes plans but God directs his steps” the Bible says. God, I prayed, You must have a reason for this. I was not very happy but at some point, you learn to accept things you have no control over. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change...

I thought about the train reservation and a night’s stay at the hostel we would forfeit, and the domino effect of a flight cancellation on the rest of our trip. I will not let this upset me, I will not let this upset me, I said to myself over and over. Yes, I will lose time and money, but I’ve lost more than these. This delay might actually be a blessing. The fact that the airline people discovered the problem before take-off might actually be a lifesaver.

The Lord will guard your coming in and going out, it says in Psalm 121. I began to see God’s hand in an otherwise unpleasant situation.

Look at the bright side, lerryblossoms. You get to stay in a nice hotel bedroom and eat a good meal for free, I told myself. By midnight, I was at peace and grateful and very tired. I slept soundly.

To be continued…

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