Survival of the Fittest; part 3

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December 2nd 2012
Published: December 3rd 2012
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"On the keyboard of life, always keep one finger on the escape key." ~

Survival of the Fittest - Part 3

(I will apologize in advance for the long blog; it just took on a life of its own. So put on your seatbelt if you decide to read on!)

Four letters to describe my experience at the Montreal Airport. "OMFG". (Oh & sorry mom about the "F" in OMFG, but it was necessary given the circumstances!)

Well the game was on. After our Paris flight landed, everyone rushed to get off the plane like there was a Boxing Day sale at Future Shop. We hoofed it into the terminal where we lined up for customs, which now is a bunch of kiosks, where you have to scan your own passport, scan your own customs form, which then spits out a photocopy of your form. (PS Marth informs me I could have bypassed this line; old smarty pants tells me this after the fact).

Regardless, this is a new system for most travelers, and everyone was buzzing about what to do. Thankfully all my cylinders were firing or I'd have lost precious time there.

Then I had to claim my luggage, haul it myself to my connecting flight. The baggage area was a complete zoo, and people leap-frog over you & I got more arm pits shoved into my face than I could count. I remember mom always saying, "Patience is a virtue" & I was repeating it to myself. However, I prefer another quote about patience. PATIENCE: What you must have when there are too many witnesses. Let's just say there were a few people that really got on my wick.

Twenty five minutes later, I finally spot my bag & it's stacked above another bag so I missed reaching it. So I start running along the belt, in and out of people & almost had to jump onto the bloody conveyer belt to get it. There was NO way I was missing my connecting flight, rules be damned. (If they are looking to film a new James Bond film they should start at the Montreal Airport.)

Now I'm feeling the effects of a long day, and I'm really starting to resemble my passport picture (which isn't good, trust me). SO I follow the crowd again, realllly hoping we were heading straight for a cliff ;(

I get to "connecting flights" & stop to ask an airport rep where I connect to Ottawa, and in a heavy French accent he says, "Where's Ottawa?" I looked at him in disbelief, & replied, "Ottawa, the nation's capital". He then says to me, "What country is Ottawa in?". Good grief! Now I'm thinking my goose is cooked, the jig is up, game-over, lights-out, because my flight's soon leaving & I'm way behind. (It crossed my mind, I had only been gone a week, but did Quebec finally separate & I'm in different country now? That poor lad's brain was on training wheels.

Another helpful rep tells me to drop my bag at a conveyer belt. A woman ahead of me going to Toronto did the same thing too, so I wasn't sure where the heck it was going, and to be frank, I couldn't give a fiddler's fart if it went to Mongolia. I had my gifts in my hand-bags, and all I wanted to do was get the heck home to see the kids.

I finally found the Air Canada desk (I am sure I heard angels singing right then) and she tells me to hurry through security & they'll tell me which gate I'm to board at. I was told to go to gate 32, which is down an escalator, onto a long walking conveyer, then I walk for what seemed like 10 miles, spotting only one other person, and they worked for the airline. Where the heck is everybody else?

Finally I see gate 32 off in the distance, and start gunning it. I pass a sitting area, thinking 32 is further on but it's not. I am darn near close to opening the door to head outside. I turn around quickly & head back to the sitting area, & ask a lady if this is the Ottawa flight? She says yes, & I told her that I nearly hightailed it out the door. She said a few people did the same thing. (The airport staff must get a kick out of us dimwits going the wrong way).

So we board this shoebox (see site plan of this tiny plane) and I'm in the last row, which has 5 seats across. I've got one of the window seats, & there's only one empty seat open, & we are all holding our breath as to who's going to sit there as we were packed in like sardines. We soon found out.

Down the aisle comes a Paul Bunyan-like lumberjack, easily 6' 2" & around 250 pounds (give or taken an ounce or two). I am sure this guy was about as thrilled as we were. It's simply just a very small plane that doesn't accommodate every size. SO this poor guy sits down, and I had to contort myself into a pretzel shape, because he's literally spilling out onto my seat. My face is pressed up against the window, and I am thinking to myself, "Well Sal, now you know what hell is". If I have to be pressed up against anybody, couldn't it at least be George Clooney? Oops, er, I meant Allan :😊

They announce there's a bathroom at the front (by the looks of things, I am betting it's simply a curtain with a chamber pot), and being I never had a chance to use the washroom along the way, all bets are off that I'll be using one now. I'm figuring if I have to crawl over this guy in such tight quarters, by the time we land, we'll be married, have one child & a dog.

By now my chic dress is riding up on me, my new black nylons from Paris have a tear, I am so parched I couldn't spit if I tried, my back is going into spasms, I'm itchy on my right shoulder blade & the plane is stifling hot. And there's no chance of getting a glass of wine, let alone a barf bag if one needed it. WAH! (And I am no diva; I grew up in a 3 bedroom house with 1 bathroom and a family of 7 of us living there. I understand small spaces).

To make matters worse, this guy next to me decides this is THE perfect time to read the Globe & Mail. So now, not only am I being elbowed, he's laughing out loud at some article. By then I was ready to lose what little composure I had left. My next airplane etiquette tip: "Stick with a paperback on a small plane. Do not bring a giant newspaper or map, or anything else that impinges on the space of the poor sap sitting next to you". ("SAP" in the dictionary has a picture of me next to it).

Finally I couldn't take it anymore and had to turn myself in my seat, which then meant I had to read the newspaper with him. We were like an odd version of a pair of Siamese Twins.

When they announced we were landing in 10 minutes, I believe an unexpected "whoop" came out of me, but I can't be sure because my ears were buzzing from the plane vibrations. Double Wah!

I was the last poor bedraggled mutt to get off the plane, staggered into the terminal looking like 50 miles of back roads, & I tell ya, when I spotted Al & the girls when I was going down the escalator, I darned near leapt right over the side!

There were lots of hugs, and Ava had made me a card, and a paper scarf in case I was cold. Rory wouldn't let go of me, and Al ♥♥ was my knight-in-shining armor getting that god-forsaken bag off the belt (and guess what, it made it!!) Lara was not feeling good so she didn't come but I got a wonderful greeting from her when I got home.

When I walked through the door, I kissed the floor! Hello my home sweet home.

Al had finished the outdoor Christmas lights (it may not be Paris decorations, but it looked amazing!), the house was spotless, Al had the fireplace going, food in the oven, and our bed was freshly-made. (With this homecoming, I'm going to Paris every few weeks!)

I found out Ava got "Student of the Month" for being kind to others (that will come in particularly handy when she has to travel on a Dash 8 plane), and Rory got her gymnastic report card that showed she "mastered" every category! (that too will come in handy if she has to somersault over someone on a plane to use the bathroom!) OH & Lara had an English assignment on who was her "hero"...and drum roll, for some foolish reason she chose me. (In light of her Celiac Disease diagnosis & how I've supported her & stepped up to the plate, she felt me worthy...ahhhhh, sniff sniff) I suppose in the end everything we do in life, will somehow benefit us, even when we think nobody is paying attention.

It had a been a long 12 hour day. I managed to stay up till 10 PM Ottawa time (4 am Paris time).

Final thoughts...

All in all, I feel really blessed to have gotten to go on this trip which I have waited a long time to take. I gave each of the girls a Euro to keep in a special place to remind them that if they work hard, they too will be able to take a trip to Paris (and anywhere else in the world). Hopefully they'll be much younger than I am when that trip happens. If I'm lucky, this "mom" will go along for the ride & get to see the magic of Paris through their eyes.

This trip really made me look at the world in a different way, much the same as going to Mexico did. Mexico is amazing; I love the warmth of the Mexican people, their sense of humor, how hard-working yet how welcoming they are. The Riviera Maya in particular is splendid, with its ancient Mayan ruins, archeological sites, underground river systems, cenotes & , lagoons, its lush tropical jungle, exotic animals, marinelife, and it's amazing reef system. (The sun, palm trees & ocean doesn't hurt either!)

And Paris, well I think you now know how I feel about Paris which is synonymous with romance, beauty, art, culture, and fashion. It's enchanting, inspiring and exquisite.

Traveling means so much more to me than just visiting new cities/countries and seeing the much-lauded "tourist spots". Travel opens my mind, makes me relate to other people, especially when you take the time to learn about their traditions, food, religion, history & their art. I tried to do that in Paris. I felt renewed on this trip, full of wonder & awe and tried to take everything in that I possibly could. I want to feast off those wonderful memories for a long time to come.

And yes, sometimes travel puts you in uncomfortable situations & can test your limits and especially your patience! (take that! Dash 8 plane! & rep who didn't know where Ottawa was?).

This trip in particular, made me leave my comfort zone and took me away from my normal routine, and I learned something new about myself. I learned it's good to be away from my family & have my own adventures, and life will go on without me. (nah, it didn't - smile) I learned to not be so shy about using another language, even if I butchered it and said the wrong thing (I think I asked some guy inadvertently on a date?) I learned to put the "planning away" and go with the flow, and throw caution to the wind (bike taxi through crazy Paris traffic!) I also overcame a fear; traveling alone internationally, (obviously paranoid about missing a flight). But despite the snafus, I survived!

I was also reminded on this trip how much Martha is a wonderful, generous, caring & loyal friend to me (awww). Our friendship is like an old pair of comfortable shoes, and we both sometimes forget that this "old-comfortable-shoe" of a friendship, holds so much significance to both of us. So, it was great to give that old-comfortable-shoe of a friendship a little polish & shine, with a dab of laughter, and time spent together, so that this friendship continues to endure and bring warmth to both of our lives. She's a friend whose friendship I have sometimes taken for granted & I will do my best in the future, to embrace that friendship. (I promise I'll try, even if you drive me around the bend Ethel 😊 Your friend, Lucy.

We were long overdue for a girl's time away & despite the pratfalls, the jokes, the frustration we felt at times (remember that stupid lost bus-tour ticket?), all in all we had a "fab-ulicious" time! Thank you Marth for inviting me along & for the fun times. (Oh, now it's your turn to thank me, so send me an email, asap) Haha!

Despite how much I loved Paris, I came home with a newfound respect for my home (as ever humble as it may be after seeing Paris!), my wonderful daughters, and my great hubby. I won the jackpot with them. And my beret is off to those that lent a hand while I was gone, (thanks Mom & Kels), Susan, and the staff at school. Back to the land known as "reality".

Thanks for all your comments & for doing charity work by reading my blogs! I will post another (final blog) of the comments that you guys sent to me via this blog. Many of them fun, informative and supportive. I will try and send some more pics; but this little camera is worn out so I'll have to send a letter to Santa asking for one. How does this work?

"Dear Santa, I've been awfully good, well for at least one week, so can we please focus on that? Oh and can you please define what "good" means? Otherwise, if you could spare a new small-sized camera with lots of bells & whistles I'd be very appreciative. Thank you. ME. cc: Al

Till the next adventure (Mexico is in the works of course!) I will say, not good-bye, but till we BLOG again!

"I have a firm grasp on reality! I can reach out and strangle it any time! ~ Author Unknown.



3rd December 2012

home sweet home...
hello again Sally. just wanted you to know that I truly enjoyed reading your Paris blogs - just finished last one while eating my peanut butter and jelly sandwich - and as always had a few LOL moments. You are truly a wonderful writer- with a nice blend of detail, wit and sarcasm. wondering if you have ever watched Anthony Bourdain on the Travel Channel? Anyway, I'm hoping you travel again soon so I can read more entries. Merry Christmas to you & your family. - Cindy

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