Our Ethiopia Airlines flights were fantastic. Good food (as long as you stuck to chicken), seats that slid forward when you reclined so you actually got about 5 more inches, on time (early for two flights!), and a personal video thingy with movies, news, games, etc. South African Airways used to be my favorite African carrier but Ethiopia Air has surpassed them. Oh, and their upholstery and carpet are new too! Thom kept saying, don’t you think Ethiopian women are pretty so I know he thought the flight attendants were pretty swell too.
We arrived in the land of gluttony an HOUR early! Can you imagine? Last time we landed in Dulles it took us about an hour to get through the lines at customs. This time it took two minutes. Our luggage came five minutes later. (It’s our good travel karma in compensation for traveling to the least desirable places of the earth for 20 years and sitting in roach-infested, cracked plastic chair, Nescafe-only coffee airports. Once, I had an 8-hour layover so I just bought a newspaper, spread it on the ground, and slept there. Those darn roaches are so ticklish when they climb over you though so my sleep was fitful.)
Anyways, back to gluttony. I made a bee-line for Fuddruckers and Thom graciously agreed to go there. The smallest hamburger they have is 1/3 of a pound so I got that and loaded it with dill pickles and those good sweet onions they use. (In Africa, we use a whole pound of hamburger for three meals for two of us!) Thom had an omelette the size of New Jersey and we both ate in gusto as people at least 2-10 sizes larger than Zambians sat at the tables around us.
On our flights to Miami and then Puerto Rico we both grabbed the Sky Mall catalog and each found things we couldn’t live without that we never new existed before the flights.
I liked the Canine Genealogy Kit for Coco — Boerboels only became AKC-recognized breeds this year, so I wondered what stock they would say this pure South African-breed dog came from. This is must-have information — how can I train her properly without this knowledge? (Thom said at $59.95 I should just guess and go with my gut feeling.)
On the other hand, Thom realized that the reason he awoke so groggily in the morning was because he had a harsh awakening, usually me saying, Thom! Don’t you have an appt in 15 minutes? Or, the dogs jumping on him. Of course, a progression wake-up clock would change him into a morning person and launch him into a lovely cheerful mood for the day.
(from the catalog) More gentle than traditional jarring alarms, this clock uses gradually increasing light, stimulating aromas, and peaceful nature sounds to awaken sleepers. At 30 minutes before wake-up, the clock’s light begins to glow softly, brightening over the next half-hour. The warmth from the lamp releases faint aromatherapy scents into the air to stimulate the olfactory senses. Fifteen minutes before wake-up, the clock generates your choice of six soft nature sounds, such as ocean surf or songbirds. All this for only $69.95.
I had once read a restaurant review saying that “the best Cuban restaurant in Miami” happened to be tucked into a corner of the airport. Just like Name That Tune, no sooner had we said, “where’s that restau…” than the gate agent said, La Carreta, at D37. Apparently everyone asks that question. Thom had the black bean soup and fried plantains and I had the roast pork and onions sandwich. It was fantastic and all of the other dishes looked wonderful too. I wish we had a longer layover.
Back onto the airplane for leg five of our marathon around-the-globe trip and before we knew it we landed in Puerto Rico. No customs, lots of fast food joints and American restaurants and stores — in fact, it’s absolutely the same as being in the U.S. — I’m not sure what the difference is between a U.S. protectorate and a state other than the language (Spanish seems to be the primary language among older people but those 40 and younger were almost all biluingual)?
Because we had temporarily reverted to American eating habits and stuffed ourselves in Dulles and Miami, we weren’t hungry at all for dinner. Come to think of it, neither of us were really hungry for lunch in Miami either, but as we all know, American eat according to external cues (time, size of plate/portion) whereas slimmer cultures (like the French) eat according to internal cues (satiation). Since Puerto Rick was kinda foreign we reverted back to our internal cues and ended our night with a chocolate each and Mojitos.
Our final flight to Dominica is mid-day tomorrow. Before that we have to make a Wal-Mart run for Alex and fill the two empty suitcases we brought with sorely needed items for him. Dominica is really a very remote third-world country so things like clothes or electronics have to be brought in. He has things on his list like dress pants and shirts, dog bones for Kala, a shower nozzle and a mattress topper. We suspect he’ll be more excited to get two suitcases full of mainland goodies than see us, but he’s a good man and will pretend otherwise. 🙂