Saturday, August 9, 2008

home sweet home

My dad always says: "You know, your grandma always said: 'It's good to want to go on vacation, and it's good to want to come home.' And she's right."

And he's right.

Groggy in Casablanca, barely catching the train to head to the airport to catch a plane to NYC to catch a Chicago-bound flight (thanks for rescheduling my flights, travel agent Kyle!)... well, it sounds like the start of a bad day. But I was just too excited to see my folks, to walk on American soil, to be home.

After circling above Cape Cod for 2 hours while waiting for clearance to land at JFK, the pilot just gives up and decides to land in Bangor, Maine. Being delayed several hours and missing a flight is tragedy, but landing in Bangor, Maine instead of New York City? That's comedy.

Imagine if someone had never seen New York City. His first time on an airplane, imagination running wild. Skyscrapers, the Statue of Liberty, Tiffany's, 5th Ave, Coney Island, Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan; he's just so excited. New York City. He wakes up, after dreams of the Big Apple, of America, of New York City! Looks out the window, and there it is. Bangor, Maine.

Now, unfortunately (and unsurprisingly), the airport of Bangor, Maine is not exactly an international hub*. In fact, there are no international facilities. No visa service, no customs, no entry stamps. We're not allowed off the plane.

* - see this entry's comments RE these totally incorrect statement.

Just as we're getting hungrumpy, maybe an hour and a half, we lift off for a short hop to the real NYC. Land at 9pm. Next flight to Chicago is 8am, so after a failed attempt to catch some z's in a little corner of the arrival hall, a single-serving friend and I have wheelchair races all around the empty airport 'til the wee hours of the morn, when our vehicles are confiscated by a guard who looked like she'd never had an ounce of fun in her life, and was jealous. So then my newfound friend regales me with incredible stories of his 4-year tour of Iraq, and we get some muffins when Au Bon Pain finally opens at 5am. Sit around 'til 8am, and I'm off to Chicago.

Mom picked me up at O'Hare International. Due to Dad's work schedule and my extra day of transit, I won't get to see him 'til tomorrow morning, when he comes home from Loyola Medical. How sad! And my brother and sister? They're somewhere between Egypt and Jordan currently. I guess wanderlust runs in the family. We like to travel.

But man oh man, is it nice to come home, too! Freshly-shaved, showered, and fed. I'm putting my photos on the computer as I type, and as soon as Mom gets up from her nap, we're taking a walk. I like walking with Mom.


So, I'm home! And you know what? American computers, American internet: I can put up photos and videos that I couldn't before. Let's do it! Here, some videos.

"leading" hephalumps to the river kwai to drink

tak bat in laos

leh, narrated in a 900-number voice (I was sick, remember...)

nageen lake, in kashmir, whose surface is smooth as glass

random rockshaw ride in agra

let's go diving. i'll just take this camel here.

tour group buses in egypt

magic box in ghana

stroll through medival fes

Ooooh, and here are some Ghana photos, too!

Start with the best photo of the trip:

That photo was from this school... once they noticed I had a camera.

Is that an abruni?! It IS!

Ice cream and cute little kids? Ghana is the best!

Even the flies are nice. Have you ever seen such a pretty fly?

The whole place is pretty. West African art is awesome. Remember those two statues I fell in love with? Are these great statues, or are these the best statues? Colonial art 4eva!

Here's the fishing town of Cape Coast.

Another Cape Coast scene.

Everybody balances stuff on their heads. Here the vendors are waiting for traffic to roll up.

Cape Coast has some former slave forts. This one's called Cape Coast Fort.

Here's a view from the e-walk in Kakum National forest. Good stuff.

Ghana, I like you.

And why not, here are a couple Morocco shots:

Alleyways with great tiled fountains scattered throughout.

Poke around a mosque, and head back to the market roads.

Oooh, I can't afford dinner at this riad, but tea sounds perfect.

Some of the other terrace-crashing travelers bid me a hero's goodbye.

Unfortunately, the plane got a little confused:

But you already heard that story. Actually, that brings you up to date entirely, right up to me sitting here, typing this sentence you just finished.

I'll put up another post in a few days or so with a few numbers and things, but there's one thing I want to mention right now:

I honestly, honestly, honestly didn't expect anyone to keep tabs on this little blog. My folks, and myself, and that's it, really. But the occasional email notes or blog comments, so totally unexpected, were just such a treat of this trip. That really, really made me smile.

Hmmm, that didn't come out as vitriolic* and impassioned as I was hoping, but you'll have to forgive me -- last time I slept was thirty-some hours ago in northern Africa -- but here's the point: thanks.

* - hmm, turns out that word does not mean what I thought it meant.

Thanks for keeping in touch, for checking in and following along and saying hello and all that good stuff. It was just so unexpected, and you all made my day time and time again.

So thanks for that.

Now I think I'm gonna snuggle up in my big fat comfy bed, under some big fat comfy blankets, in my clean air-conditioned room, and dream of more big adventures. Good night everybody, and sweet dreams.


daddy said...


you're the best

Cam said...


-Cam and Leah

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, before putting something on the web, you should do your research. Bangor International Airport is an "International" airport with full customs checking facilities. As a matter of fact, several European flights stop at BIA first especially for customs clearance and refueling. As to why you were not allowed to deplane, that has more to do with your airline than it does with Bangor International Airport.

Have a Great Day!

Sharon Boucher
Marketing Dept. Bangor International Airport

Anonymous said...

I subscribe to Google Alerts on topics of interest to my department.

Thanks for your apology.

Sharon Boucher

Jake Cooper said...


I'd like to apologize to the good people of Bangor, Maine. Whispers throughout the cabin, some of which were whispered in a very authoritative tone, suggested the lack of international facilities at "Bangor Airport" (we did not know the official name was "Bangor International Airport") was the reason we were unable to deplane. Evidently, these whispers were wrong. I'm sorry.

Also Ms. Boucher, out of curiosity, as a marketing department employee, do you occasionally search blogs and forums to keep your finger on the pulse of BIA's word-of-mouth reputation? Is that part of your job specifically, or is it more the equivalent of Google-ing yourself, just to see what comes up?

I realize that might have sounded a bit pointed, but it's honestly in earnest; I'm really curious how you came across this little blog.

Okay, time to go have another slice of that spinach, mushroom, and onion deep dish pizza downstairs. Yum!

I'm still tallying numbers and miles and dollars, and will post a stat sheet entry in the next day or two.

Jake Cooper said...

How did Ms. Boucher respond prior to my comment? That's like sometimes you get an email that sneaks in like it was sent yesterday...

Betty said...

Hi, Jake -

I got your email confirming the dive shift dates. Looking forward to seeing you this Saturday. Meanwhile, I would have commented on your blog sooner but my daughter flew in from Greece on the same day so I've been preoccupied! Bangor: maybe not so famous for their airport, but definately known for being Stephen King's home town.


Anonymous said...

So wonderful to have you home with all your fascinating stories and observations!

Love, Mom

X Bakes X said...

Dude! I am sorry I haven't been commenting on your blog. I was getting it in my RSS feed and reading your updates as soon as they were available! I was getting in my RSS reader though, so I didn't even think to come here and comment.

Welcome home! I appreciated all the posts and pictures and video, you're one worldly guy now!

Anonymous said...

Glad you are home!! I know your folks missed you, but were proud of you at the same time. I was at Sarahs' this weekend and she doesn't have internet in her new apartment yet. I hope to see some pictures when I get there in Sept. I know you will be gone, but your mom will show them to me.
Aunt Cel

GJean3 said...

Congrats on completing your trip and making it home. Wow - such rich memories that will serve you for a lifetime. And thanks for thanking those of us who followed your not-so-"little" blog. :)
Margie Rhoades
ps-if you want you can return the

Anonymous said...

Oh man, I hope to see you, abruni, in MY village! Maybe at Foodstuffs?? - Wow, busted by the airport folks from Bangor. And so quickly! - BTW, did you get my message on gmail?? BBB873

Yvonne said...

Vitriolic? Hahaha, whoops. Did you mean saccharine?

Glad you made it home safely! We got all your postcards and they're brightening up the otherwise bare and boring Randall lab fridge!

jdcooper said...

hahahahaha that conversation with the Bangor International Airport marketing department was hysterical!

Ms. Boucher and the BIA marketing department would have come across as professional rather than sad if she had omitted her first line.

It's web-log, not a term paper.

Flights to Abuja said...

Airplane travel is nature's way of making you look like your passport photo.Flights to Abuja

lake viewlodge said...

Nice home,sweet home.informatics videos.

Luxury guest home accommodation nearest Perth Hill