I am indeed alive, in case you were wondering. I’ve just been busy, traversing the globe and whatnot.
Now, when I left the USA last year to join PC, I fully expected to not touch American soil for two years. Through a set of circumstances, I’ve visited twice in the last 4 months. Some PCVs gave me flack about this, but I presume they were jealous and gave them a Reese’s PB cup and they shut up. (I am somewhat serious about that, btw)
left my village on September 22nd, stayed two nights in Pretoria, then boarded a flight to Qatar. Yes, Qatar. If you don’t know, Qatar is a tiny country in the Middle East, and its capital, Doha, is becoming a major hub in airline travel. I flew 8 hours to Doha, enjoying some movies, good food, and incredible customer service on my Qatar Airways flight (HIGHLY recommend). Then we disembarked into the work-in-progress, slightly-ghetto Doha airport. The first thing I remembered thinking was: That sign is NOT in English!! Everything in the airport is in Arabic script or English, and I just happened to catch a sign which made as much sense to me as chicken scratches.
From Doha, I flew a looong 16 hours to Houston, my final destination. After fending off bomb dogs and curious customs officers, I made it through customs and saw my sister waiting for me at the arrivals gate. What a happy sight!
Now, I’ll post more about my sister’s wedding and MST later. I just wanted to focus on my travel adventures in this post.
For this trip, I travelled utterly and completely alone. Flying through Qatar meant there were precious few Americans on any of my flights. I didn’t know what language to address people in, and had fun playing “Guess the American” and deciding who was American based on their clothes, luggage, actions, and appearance. Maybe it was because I’ve lived over a year in Africa, but I tended to fail spectacularly at my own game. I also struggled to determine if the accents were American or not. I’m a hopeless case.
It was interesting to be in a place where I absolutely did not speak the language. I have never experienced that before. In Mexico, I knew Spanish well and felt confident in my ability to communicate. Here in SA, I can often rely on English, and people are really happy when I speak in Setswana or another language. But Arabic? I think Merhaba means hello or welcome. I was at a loss!
Overall, my flights to Houston and back were uneventful and not horribly delayed. I slept a lot, read, watched movies, ate, and even made a bowl out of a magazine (not Skymall either). I’ll have to write more about my unique experience in the Houston airport, and how I managed to carry around 4 currencies in my wallet at one point.