Saturday, March 31, 2007

Paradise 'Regained'

Well, we got back ok, though not without our usual range of mini hitches. At least our luggage all materialised, though it took over an hour to appear, and as usual, was once most people had collected theirs and left. And in fact one man was in the process of wheeling off our biggest suitcase (genuine mistake), thinking it was his. Quite important this time, as our camera, mobiles, laptop, video camera, Ipod were all in hold luggage cos of security regs. Having worked for an airline for 11 yrs, M knew only too well what can happen to luggage once out of sight in the bowels of the airport.

Our 1st hitch was the night before we flew. I went out to the car to put the insurance papers in it for the morning, only to discover our battery was completely flat. Our daughter, who is 2 going on 17 ('give me the keys dad') had been playing in it and pressed every switch possible. She loves 'driving', and every time we go anywhere says 'keys mummy' and 'me drive'. She always manages to find some button I didn't know the whereabouts of, such as 'snow', 'overdrive' 'pwr' (or what they were for, for that matter. It was an automatic...) etc which always caused a slight delay in departure. Anyway this time it was the lights, wipers, and indicators. Everything, and I stupidly didn't check after finishing cleaning the car. Ho hum.

My dad didn't know where his jump leads were, having not used them for years, but eventually we found them in the Aladdin's cave that passes for a garage,and 1st crisis was averted. Gatwick was far less busy than we expected. Queues not bad at all. It seemed strangely quiet though and quite subdued. Or perhaps I was imagining it. Weird (for want of a better word) to be travelling the day after a thwarted terrorist attack........

We had our little plastic bags with keys, wallet, tickets in. Nappies, sunglasses,contact lens case. That was it. No drinks, food etc. We removed ourshoes, emptied our pockets, grimaced at the cameras filming us at passport control, and though happy for any security that make it safer, still felt the terrorists have managed to control our behaviour to some extent and thought the price of freedom is being monitored and observed, and controlled fairly minutely. Didn't feel very free.

First flight uneventful, bar our two year old being sick 4 times on her seat, on herself, but miraculously NOT on me, for which I am very grateful! Though of course, even though she had been sick that morning and we knew she wasn't well, we couldn't take a change of clothes for her on the flight, NO not even for a baby/toddler!

4 ½ hrs in Abu Dhabi stretched our resources. But the children were SO good, colouring, going up and down on the escalators, wandering around the DVD shop etc. We couldn't even eat together because we didn't want A to eat and be sick again (even though she wanted to- eat, not be sick...) The second flight was ok. We were put in a holding pattern before landing because we had to let several fighter jets land 1st. In Sri Lanka, as with several other places, the military use the commercial airports. Slightly disconcerting.

Jaffna airport was bombed by the LTTE, the Pakistani High Commissioner survived a bomb attack in Colombo, and the gov't hit an orphanage in the north, accidentally killing 63 children, so they have closed all schools fearing a back lash for that. Things are really deteriorating here, it's awful in the north and east, where in one church 20,000 refugees were hiding out, looking for shelter, and that is repeated in many places.

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