Friday, December 28, 2007

Egypt Day One--Traveling

Since childhood I’ve had a list of places I wanted to travel, if I could go anywhere. Egypt always topped my world-travel list, and on my first trip overseas that’s exactly where I was going. I wasn’t so much excited as incredulous that I could possibly accomplish a life-long dream. My journey (as my mother’s travel companion) began at midnight on Monday, November 26, 2007, when we left the SLC airport.

Traveling when I should’ve been asleep didn’t help solidify the reality of this unbelievable situation for me. I only vaguely recall waiting at the SLC airport, and the only thing I remember of my layover in Detroit was an advertisement for a hotel within the airport itself. This seemed a clever thing to me at the time; if my layover had been any longer, I’d have seriously looked at checking-in.

Arriving at the JFK airport, I had my first opportunity to exit a plane the old-fashioned way, by stairs onto the tarmac; cold, spitting air ruined the novelty for me. Mom and I picked up our baggage shortly afterward. We promptly had guidance to the appropriate terminal for Egypt Air flights. This expediting was all nice but relatively pointless; our flight wasn’t leaving until the evening.

The huge and mostly empty terminal seemed unwelcoming at first. It apparently lacked benches, and a variety of international flights were represented at the long check-in counters but not Egypt Air. Still, our tickets said this was the place. After a bit of wandering, we noticed an empty Egypt Air kiosk with a sign. Check-in wouldn’t start until 3 PM. What to do until then?—we’d already ruled out sight-seeing in the city. With our kind of luck, we’d miss our flight.

Fortunately our inexperience with the JFK airport didn’t lead to more discomfort than necessary. We noticed after a little more wandering that the terminal had a waiting area, complete with shops, restaurants, and (cold, hard) benches. We began befriending other ‘People to People’ delegates who were waiting for the same flight and who were easily identified by their red, white, and blue lanyards (holding name badges) and their large, round luggage tags.

I read the introduction to The Picture of Dorian Gray and Other Writings by Oscar Wilde, while waiting. This summary of the author and his works left me unsympathetic towards the rest of the novel but I resolved to read it anyway—eventually. I mostly cat-napped then and was generally out-of-it. We checked in later, waited longer, and then finally boarded that evening.

On the literal threshold of my first international flight, I experienced a feeling of significance, I’m truly going. The ethereal threads of dreams had woven together to form something real. Of course, I didn’t yet know what I was looking at, what reality had in store.

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