Monday, June 1, 2009

May 25 - Leaving Papua New Guinea

Prior to my trip I looked forward to smelling PNG again. Now, I am looking forward to leaving it behind.

From Lae to Port Moresby - then on to Brisbane.

Our layover in Port Moresby was long. We were grateful for a comfortable place to put our feet up for the several hours we had to wait.

Our flight left Port Moresby about 20 minutes late. Apparently we were held up by someone who was ill.

I tried to sleep on the flight to Brisbane but the three loud men behind me prevented me from sleeping. This was our bare bones flight - no head phones.

I couldn't find my iPod. I was doomed. I needed sleep.

I realized about half way to Brisbane that in order to make my flight I needed that 20 minutes that I lost in Port Moresby.

Plus, we had to get through customs. It was going to be close.

As we began to disembark I told some of the students that I needed to hurry to catch my flight to Sydney. I would say goodbye once we go through customs.

The lines were short so I made it through in record time.

Enter now my misinterpretation of military time and the time on the clock.

As soon as I exited customs (this time I declared everything) I hit the information booth that proved to be pretty uninformative. I had to get to the domestic terminal which was a short train ride away.

I had to leave the area that I had planned to say good bye to everyone. If I tarried, I could miss my plane. I was so tired at this point that the thought of missing my plane sent me over the edge.

I waited and prayed that someone would come through customs. As the clock ticked away I saw Jordan and Nicole come through the door.

The tears flooded from my eyes and we hugged and said goodbye.

And then I ran.

The other problem I was facing was the infection under my arm. I had developed a sore (long story, I'll tell you sometime) about a week and a half into the trip. I was taking care of it but after our swim in the ocean and after our plane trip it had swollen and was now throbbing.

I also felt feverish.

Now I had to scramble. I purchased a train ticket to the domestic terminal and made my way to the station. I made my way to the Quantas line and was informed that I would not be able to make my flight. I could get my flight re-arranged at the domestic terminal.

I had two very heavy suitcases, a backpack and a bag.

Once I got to the platform I inquired of a young man if I was on the right side of the tracks - literally. Craig was very helpful. When we got off the train he offered to take my heaviest suitcase. What an angel.

Both of us were on the flight from Port Moresby. Both of us were going to Sydney. He had been booked on a later flight - the one I would end up on.

As I arrived to the domestic flight area I found the Quantas service desk. At this point I am crying...not sobbing...just tears falling. I was exhausted.

I explained to the lady at the counter that I was not upset, that the tears were from fatigue and pain in my arm. I had missed my flight and needed to rebook it.

Phase 1 - I was informed that I needed to go to the ticket agent 'over there.'

Making my way 'over there' I trudged through the crowds, bags in tow, tears flowing.

The lady who helped me was in training so I had the pleasure of two Aussies booking my flight. Once again I explained that I was not upset but that I was very tired. I didn't want to tell them about my infection in case they wanted to quarantine me.

We worked through the process and I was rebooked on the next flight.

I made my way back to the service desk where I would check my bags.

Since I was now flying domestically my bags were overweight. I had to go back to the ticket agent to pay for the over weight bag - $30.

This time she kept my two heavy bags.

Now I had to go through security. Although I had been through two other airports I knew I had some illegal items - hair spray and water.

I took the water out and guzzled it down. I was parched.

Then I just left the two small cans of hair spray on the counter and made my way, tearfully through security.

Now I had a chance to call Luke and Esther to let them know my flight would be late.

The first pay phone I went to didn't work. More tears.

I left a message on Esther's cell phone. Later we would replay it and laugh and laugh. It really was hilarious. Now. Not then.

Reaching Luke on his cell phone I burst into sobbing tears. I assured him I was alright but just very tired. He laughed too. It was very funny. Now. Not then.

I made my way to the gate waiting area and found that the flight was delayed. I sat as far from people as I could. I couldn't quit crying. Not sobbing. Just tears.

Pretty soon a lovely young lady came over and asked if I was alright. She handed me a package of tissues and I quickly told her my story.

Another angel.

The flight was only an hour - it took a bit longer to get from Sydney to the Davidson's house.

As I write this I am at a hotel in Sydney waiting to leave Australia. The stories of my time here will be told on Facebook.

My journey is almost complete.

My gratitude to those of you who prayed is immeasurable. The entire trip could not have gone better. Even with the drama at the end of the trip I am considering myself really blessed.

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