Today I’m writing about jet-lag while being jet-lagged.
I really didn’t think it would be as bad as it is, but I’m on my third day, and I can definitely recommend that people give themselves three days of recovery going west. Going to Shetland wasn’t that bad, but coming home has felt like a slog through a mental mud pit.
It also didn’t help that I decided to give up my three cups a day of tea habit that I started in Shetland (when in Rome, you know), so I’m also caffeine deficient. Or that the airline served four glasses of water, one of which I missed while sleeping. I’ve been drinking water in the gallons to catch up.
When we left, I felt pretty good. Our driver didn’t have to arrive at a terrible hour. He picked us up at 8:30 a.m. after I texted him detailed directions to make sure he didn’t get lost. For once, we had an easy going ride to the airport. Asfand was very laid-back.
But when we got to the airport, nothing was laid-back. We had to ask for directions to find Air-Transat. Once there, we checked in our carry-on bags, and got our boarding passes, and then an employee with Air Transat asked us to weigh them. Combined, our two bags each had to weigh under 10 kilos. They did not.
“Can you get rid of 3 kilos out of there?” she asked.
We looked befuddled. I asked about that price for checking a bag.
“50 pounds” she said.
“Okay, we’ll try.”
Thus ensued a hilarious comedy of us putting on as many pieces of clothing as possible (I was wearing one long-sleeved shirt and two sweaters, plus both winter jackets and D. was wearing two pairs of pants). Plus, D. put the rocks that were in his pack which he had suggested tossing and I told him were irreplaceable into his jacket pocket. And I threw out all of my socks and underwear, and was even prepared to throw out the pair of jeans I had brought, but was fortunately saved by the scale.
Exactly 10 pounds.
That took a half hour to do, while we were in front of all the other passengers, mind you. I was expecting some sort of sticker that said, “Approved!” or “Cleared!” I really wanted a gold star after all that effort. All I got was, “Great, now go to security.”
What? After all that effort I was just going to security as if nothing had happened?
Of course we were thoroughly patted down in security, which I couldn’t feel because of all the layers, and then our bags were checked as well. D. said they didn’t ask him about the rocks in his pockets, which struck both of us as very funny.
By the time we got through I was sweating through all three layers.
“Let’s go to the bathroom,” D. suggested, “and take all of this off.”
So that’s what we did. We undid all of that effort at check-in with another 15 minutes of trying to move around in a bathroom stall carefully undressing without touching anything.
This is why they tell you to come three hours early to the airport when you fly internationally.
We had just enough time to sit down for a quick breakfast, and D. ordered the full English breakfast with the tomato, beans, and everything, while we watched stag party after stag party sit down next to us. I counted at least six brides with girlfriends and that many grooms. They almost all had on costumes of some sort.
“When did this become a thing?” I asked D. as a party of five men in Scottish wigs, and fake kilts with hairy somethings hanging off the front apparently to symbolize hiding their “manhoods” escorted another man (presumably the groom) in a Guinevere wig and green dress to breakfast.
Meanwhile I was obsessively checking the flight app to see when our boarding gate would be announced. In England, the airlines don’t let you know where you’re boarding until the very last minute, which caused a whole lot of flight anxiety for me.
D. decided, thankfully, that we definitely needed provisions for the flight. Word to the wise, if you’re gluten-free or have any other sensitivities you need to place your meal order at least 72 hours in advance with the airline to get something special. Which, by the way, we did not, which meant that I ate two portions of rice and had a glass of wine during the flight. D. purchased 4 small bags of potato chips and some Green & Black chocolate bars (both gluten-free and peanut-free) and we headed to our gate.
Thus started the endless standing in a crowd of people in front of a barricade, which was only really opened to 90% of us when Group 7 was announced. I’ve never been with a group of people waiting to get on a plane who all laughed at the same time when a boarding group was announced.
It did have a particularly livestock-feeling as we boarded a large crowd into a funnel of sorts. The man checking our passports occasionally grilled random passengers.
“Why are you going to Canada?” he asked a teenager from Italy.
She muttered something unintelligible to me and he looked at her, looked at the passport, looked at her, looked at the passport until finally he decided she was safe to go.
It was as if he was saying to her, “Well, I’m letting you on here against my better judgement. You better be a model world citizen on this plane.”
In general, I liked our Airbus plane better than the Dreamliner we flew over on with WestJet. It had more space in the seating area, and I could actually stretch out my legs. Not that this had anything to do with the plane, but this time I put on compression socks and my legs felt a lot better at the end.
The flight was completely smooth for 9 hours. Not even a bump of turbulence, and I slept for about 40 minutes in between watching various television shows and movies. I haven’t watched that many hours of television in a row in years. It felt both necessary and decadent at the same time.
But inevitably, by the time we arrived, I was feeling pretty grubby, sweaty, and tired. We stood in line for 45 minutes to clear customs in Canada and then somehow ended up in a line to get back on a plane and when the agent asked for our boarding passes D. looked panicked because he had left his on the plane. Phew!
This is what international travel is these days. Long … harried … uncomfortable … possibly close to some medieval forms of torture.
By the time my sister picked us up I was entirely ready for home (and a shower).
We had wanted to stay a while to visit her and my family but our petsitter had already left, so we headed south for the five hour drive home to make sure the cats and dog were okay, which was compounded by another hour long wait at the border behind semi-trucks trying to also cross at 11:00 p.m. at night.
By the time we reached home it was past midnight and we had been traveling for 24 hours straight by automobile and plane, and I felt like we were incredibly lucky to make it home without accident.
The pets all agreed.