I’m finally back in Israel after a lovely month-long visit home. The trip was long and tiring, but it went well. My parents took me to the airport on Thursday morning. My first flight, from Lewiston to Salt Lake City, was scheduled for shortly after noon, but it was delayed about 30 minutes. That didn’t matter to me, since I had a long layover at Salt Lake City, but many of the other passengers were concerned about missing their connections. The flight was short and uneventful. As we prepared to deplane, I allowed those with tight connections to go ahead of me.
I had a six-hour layover at the Salt Lake City Airport. I wandered the halls, exploring newly constructed terminals. I stopped at Panera Bread and got something to eat. I was only one time zone away from home, but I was already confused about the time of day. I wasn’t sure if I was having lunch or dinner. Since I had time to kill, I scrolled Facebook and learned something that was particularly relevant, since my next stop was at the London airport. I learned that Queen Elizabeth had passed away. I knew that she was quite elderly, but at the same time, I kind of had this idea that she was a permanent fixture. She had been the queen for longer than I could remember.
My next flight was a long one, taking me from Salt Lake City to London. Boarding started at 8:50 pm and the flight departed at 9:55. The seat next to me was empty, which made me happy. I watched a couple of movies until I felt sleepy. Then, I put my handbag on the seat next to me and stacked the pillow provided by the airline and a rolled-up jacket on top, creating a pile tall enough for me to rest my head on. I didn’t sleep soundly, but I dozed for about five hours.
I had another long layover ahead of me at the London airport, and I had planned to take advantage of the time to go out and explore London. I had settled on taking a tour on a double-decker bus. I figured that if all went well, I would have time to do the shortest tour option and return to the airport in time to check in, go through security, and make it to my boarding gate in plenty of time.
When my flight landed at the London airport, I was still only half awake. I seriously considered giving up my plans of touring London and taking a nap in the airport instead. As I deplaned, I caught a whiff of the outside air. It was moist and cool, just the way that I imagined the air in England being. By the time I entered the airport, I was almost fully awake, and my desire to tour London had rekindled.
As I made my way through the airport, I was a bit confused as to which way I needed to go. I wanted to exit the airport, but I also needed to make sure that I didn’t skip any steps that would be necessary for the next leg of my journey. I ended up going too far in the direction of connecting flights and found myself in line to go through security. I couldn’t easily back out, since people were lining up behind me, so I went ahead and went through security. I was losing time, but I thought that maybe I could stop and figure out my next step after the security checkpoint.
I logged into the airport wifi and tried to look up the information that I needed, but the wifi was weak, and nothing came up. By this time, I had lost enough time that I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make it back in time or not. I finally had to give up on the idea of touring London and content myself with hanging out in the airport for the next eight hours.
I considered taking a nap, but I wasn’t really sleepy anymore, and the airport was so crowded that there wasn’t a good place to sleep. I got some breakfast even though it was early afternoon in London. I ordered a cup of tea and was disappointed to find that there was nothing special about it – it was just like any other cup of overly-brewn airport tea.
After breakfast, I wandered the airport for a while. The wifi still wasn’t working very well, so I could neither work nor amuse myself on my laptop. Instead, I read a book and then wandered the airport some more. Eventually, I decided that I was hungry again, so I got something to eat. I read some more and wandered the airport some more.
Finally, it was time to board my flight. Often, direct flights to Tel Aviv require extra security at the boarding gate. This one did not have extra security, so the boarding process was quick and easy. I dozed off before the flight took off, but I didn’t sleep long. By this time, I was tired of travelling and just wanted to hurry up and arrive.
The flight landed at 4:30 am on Saturday, two days after I set out on the trip. It didn’t take me long to get through the airport. Passport control, which can sometimes take a long time, was quick and easy. I found my luggage at the baggage carousel and headed toward the exit.
A taxi driver approached me and asked if I needed a taxi. This is a frequent occurrence in Israel, and usually I do not need a taxi, so I almost told him no. Just in time, I remembered that I did indeed need a taxi. I told him that I needed a ride to Ariel University, and we agreed upon a price.
The ride to Ariel gave me a chance to process some of the emotions that I was feeling. The moon was full, hanging low and large in the sky with wispy clouds occasionally crossing it. The moonlight cast strange shadows on the familiar landscape. A cluster of building silhouetted on a hilltop looked like a medieval castle, while shrubs and trees seemed to take on the form of strangely shaped mythical creatures. The weirdness of the pre-dawn landscape somehow matched my mood. I had been sad to leave home, knowing that it would probably be another year before I would see my family and friends again. I felt lonely, but as the sky began to grow lighter, and the clouds in the east became tinged with the colors of sunrise, I felt a sense of peace. I know that God is taking care of me, and that no matter where I go, He is there with me.
The taxi dropped me off in front of my dorm, and I dragged my luggage down the hall to the elevator, and then from the elevator to my dorm. I dug in my bag for my key. I knew exactly where it was, but I had a moment of panic when I couldn’t find it. I emptied everything out of that pocket in my bag before I found it, tucked down in the corner.
My dorm was pretty much the way I had left it. A layer of dust had accumulated in my absence. Also, I discovered that the mold that thrived in the moist environment of my sub-terranean dorm had spread wildly while I was gone. Before I left, I had been fighting mold in the bathroom. Now it was also abundant in the main room as well. Even my pillow had mold growing on it.
It was past 6:00 am by the time I arrived at my dorm. I fought to stay awake, knowing that I would get over jet lag sooner if I didn’t sleep during the day. It was a losing battle. I pulled a blanket out of the closet to create a makeshift but mold-free pillow and fell asleep. I told myself that I would sleep for a few hours and then stay awake for the rest of the day.
It was 7:00 pm when I woke up. I had slept the entire day away. I was glad to get some much-needed rest, but I knew this did not bode well for jet-lag. I was hungry, so I raided my cupboards for food. The options were limited. I found a can of tuna and some crackers. I stayed up for a couple of hours after I ate, and then I went back to bed. I slept for another five hours, waking up around 2:00 am. This time, I was wide awake. I got up, showered, and had another can of tuna for breakfast. I definitely need to go grocery shopping today!
I have a lot to do today, since I need to meet with several people on campus and I’m also joining an archaeological dig starting today. Thankfully, they start late on Sundays, which will hopefully give me a chance to take care of my meetings and grocery shopping first.