A series of miracles got us to Accra, and smoothly I might add. Our passports arrived a day early--I still haven't figured out how they got from DC to Salt Lake in less than 24 hours. The Salt Lake airport was almost closed due to bad weather, but we took off just in time. Our flight wasn't grounded in Memphis; we passed through without any problems. And it looks like the Amsterdam airport is clearing out very quickly.I'm sitting in a cramped airplane seat, flying over the Atlantic in the middle of the night. All I can see when I look out the window is a white half moon. In a way I feel like an astronaut -- flying across an empty place; the earth is far below; nothing to distract me from my thoughts, because I'm not actually in the world right now. I find when I'm on a plane that my mind automatically drifts to the problems of the world. I feel more focused up here. I'm reading the new classics of poverty alleviation: The Bottom Billion and Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid. A classmate & fellow traveler doze next to me. The Amsterdam-bound Europeans stare around in a bored, travel-weary way. I'm sure they're glad to be ending their vacations & finally getting back home, given the airport closures of the last week.
I'm always surprised by the awkward combination of boredom and excitement I feel when traveling on a plane. I guess airports are a very anticlimactic way to begin a trip. I'm actually going to a new continent; this magical place I've read about for months; but all airports are basically the same. You sit for hours at a time in a numb state of purgatory, punctuated by brief moments of mild panic: "What if I miss my connection?" "What if my bags don't arrive?" "Will they ground us somewhere strange and cancel our flight?" But for the most part this trip is like any other trip--uneventful. And for once, I'm glad.
I can't get David Bowie's "Space Oddity" out of my head.