The plane from Izmir to Athens had technical difficulties. We boarded, sat, heard the seatbelt bit, I was almost fast asleep with my face mashed against the window, and they announced in Turkish, then English, that there was a problemaki and we would be delayed. What followed was the most horrendous repetition of noises, something like Chewbaca screaming while he was manning a cement drill making us all hope and pray they would just put us on a different plane, which they did.
There were ten Greek senior citizens, all friends, who were chattering together, making jokes about never going back to Hellas (Greece) and all of this in Greek.
*I find that so long as I'm listening to the elders or the little ones I can keep up with the conversation, so I should be pooling for a social circle in Geriatric units and playgrounds of Athens.
We all went back into the airport and eventually they told us we might as well go get something to eat and drink as it may be a while. The elders took up four tables and were talking back and forth. "Yasmin, will you get me a beer!?" "NAI (Yes) Dimitris, but first I'm going to get water for my girlfriend." I only tell you these little things because I understood them, I'm proud of that, and after two hours I knew all of their names thanks to this kind of banter. They shared bags of nuts and Turkish Delights, laughed some more, and every once in a while one would hobble over to the display unit to give a report on the flight status. Not once did the rest of them wait for him to get back before the questions started.
"IS IT COMING? DO YOU SEE IT? WHAT IS IT NOW?"
A slim Pegasus Airline representative came over to us sitting in the cafe and announced that complementary refreshments would be served at the OTHER cafe. (There are two in the Izmir international Airport.) She said it quickly though and the others maybe didn't hear because they were asking,
"WHAT DID SHE SAY!? WHERE ARE WE GOING? IS THE PLANE HERE? YOU SEE IT?
And one woman, let's call her one of the leaders yelled back,
"NO! NOW WE"RE GOING TO EAT! IT'S FREE!"
And then because I must have been watching her and smiling she looked at me and said in heavily accented English,
"THEY ARE GIVING US FREE FOOD AT THE OTHER CAFE!"
Never mind that we had all already purchased drinks and sandwiches. The ten friends scuttled down as if they were using jet powered walkers.
I didn't rush because I wasn't hungry, but eventually I thought it might be more interesting to keep with the group so I made my way. Just before I'd reached the cafe and the newly allocated gate, an announcement came that our plane had arrived and we were to board. Walked a bit faster, and what did I find? The group had already gotten their things and were standing in a thick cluster around the stupidly designed gates which have the security just before you go in, so that you're trapped with not toilet or snack bars until you get on the plane.
The Greek elders were all shouting, waving their cans of Coke Light and paper wrapped sandwiches at the security guards who just kept shaking their head in the resolute, international "NO" motion. Getting closer I understood a little;
"But YOU gave these to us! We can't bring them? Why!? You just checked me, I don't have anything. Why you have to check me again? Why I can't drink my coke? Malaka."
Oh it was great for a private laugh at the Turkish Security Guards' expense. You know finally I think the ancients won. I noticed they brought a bucket and let them pass it over the rope as they entered. You hear that, Greeks? You won a battle against the Turks. Mark the day: May 31, 2010.
I'm home now. A room mate is watching Greek Idol and I'm preparing for a tour tomorrow, some lovely Houstonians having a day excursion from their cruise on the Crown Princess. It's trippy just stepping back into the "routine" like this. I wasn't gone for long, but it was long enough and far enough to make me feel like I've been on a journey. I met some fascinating people, made some revelations, connected a few dots I couldn't have otherwise, and this is exactly why travel is useful for us humans. Sometimes we just need to get well outside of our environment, even if our environment is not exactly our environment, which is the case with me. I'm dragging like an old bathrobe but a song came on while I sat on the stool at the coffee shop of Vangelis. Someone was talking about the tragedy of the ship stormed by Israeli soldiers, the activists murdered, and I wasn't listening at all. I was wiggling. Dancing. Snapping.
He finally gave up reporting the bad news I'd already heard six times that day and seen a dozen pictures I'll never be able to get out of my head. Aretha took her mighty voice and punched out of all the sadness in the room. He turned and said to the person on the other stool, "See? What was it, four days? She's all better."