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Published: August 26th 2019
The alarm goes off at 3am, which feels like a couple of hours before we went to bed. Our mood isn’t helped by the knowledge that we have a long and tortuous day of travelling halfway across the world in front of us.
Our hotel’s not all that big, but apparently big enough to have someone sitting on the reception desk at 3.30am. She doesn’t speak much English, but she treats us like royalty. She fills a large plastic container with breakfast goodies, then hugs and kisses us both on both cheeks, and looks like she’s about to burst into tears as we disappear off into the night. We feel like we’re leaving a long lost friend, and we’ve only known her for about ten minutes.
We drive across to the other end of the island to the airport, where I need to return the hire car and tell the hire car company that I’ve wrecked their precious vehicle. I’m looking forward to this like a hole in the head. I briefly consider telling them that a rogue rock suddenly jumped out from the side of the road and put the deep gouge right along one of the panels, but I’m not sure that’s going to do a lot for my credibility. I opt for the truth instead, and hold my breath while I wait for the wrath to descend. The man gets his iPad out and takes some pictures of the damage. He then thanks me for pointing it out, as he says it wasn’t all that easy to see being so close to the ground. That was unexpected. I think Issy thinks that I shouldn’t have pointed it out, but I feel apprehensive enough already about the day ahead without having to worry about Interpol trying to track us down.
The only flight we could get that would connect with our flight from London to Canada is with Easy Jet. This makes us a bit nervous. The only experience either of us have ever had with Easy Jet was a reality TV show that was on many years ago which consisted almost entirely of scenes showing passengers yelling at the Easy Jet staff. The only variety in all of this were the reasons for the yelling. Most of the time it was passengers not being allowed on flights because they were either too late checking in, they’d left their passports at home, or they were too drunk. Just about every flight seemed to be either delayed or cancelled, and this gave the passengers even more reasons to yell. I remember asking myself at the time why anyone would even think about travelling with Easy Jet. I also wondered what drugs the company executives were on when they thought it was a good idea to make the program in the first place. I assume Easy Jet made the program; maybe it was made by British Airways. Other than perhaps a slightly heavy over-emphasis on trying to flog allegedly heavily discounted bottles of expensive perfume to all the passengers, the flight seems like any other flight, and we arrive in London on time without feeling even the slightest urge to yell at anyone.
Issy disappears into the mass of people in the airport departures area to go shopping. Minutes pass; she hasn’t come back and it’s now getting worryingly close to departure time. She can’t have gone to the gate - I’ve got her passport. An announcement comes over the PA system to say that if the remaining passengers haven’t boarded the flight in the next three minutes their luggage will be offloaded and they won’t be allowed on. I’m now in full panic mode. I run from shop to shop trying to find her, but there are hundreds of shops here and thousands of people. I spy her in the distance in a shop casually admiring a bottle of perfume. We sprint to the gate which is hundreds of metres away and seemingly dive through the plane door as they’re closing it. I’m shaking. A few more seconds and we wouldn’t have been going to Canada today.
We fly over Iceland and Greenland. I’ve often wondered why Greenland is called Greenland given that it’s a massive snow covered wasteland presumably without any greenery, so I enlist the help of the Google machine. Apparently legend has it that Erik the Red was exiled there from Scandinavia for murdering someone, and he thought he might have more luck attracting people to join him if he called it Greenland. I‘m not sure he would have been all that popular when the other people arrived, but he was a murderer so they were probably too scared of him to think about complaining. We also fly over the Canadian territory of Nunavut. Our son Scott told us that it was called that because it describes roughly how much of it is inhabitable.
Our reason for going to Canada is to visit our daughter Emma who went there late last year on a working visa to spend time with her Canadian boyfriend Michael, who she met while he was on a working holiday in Melbourne. They live in the town of Lethbridge which is a couple of hours south of Calgary. They moved there recently from the tiny settlement of Crows Nest Pass up in the Rocky Mountains when Michael’s one year contract as a primary school teacher ran out.
We were supposed to meet up with Emma and Michael in Banff but they surprise us by meeting us at the airport. I get a bit emotional; we've really missed her. Michael has to go back to Lethbridge for a job interview, while the three of us drive to Banff. Our hire car is massive; more like a truck. It pours with rain on and off and it’s a bit hard to see. We work out that we’ve been awake for 37 of the past 40 hours which probably isn’t helping. We’re both feeling like zombies.
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