The 36 Hour Travel Day

October 30 – November 1 2022

This is maybe the first time I’ve ever flown out of Arcata in the middle of the day which I have to say is pretty darn nice. Sure beats the 4am wakeup for the morning flight. Despite pockets of fog upon arrival at the airport, departure is clear skies as far as the eye can see. Even Mt. Shasta is visable! The waldo grade fog is reaching its fingers over the coastal ridges so see if you can find the Golden Gate Bridge.

The baggage check line moves pretty quickly but I’m told Turkish Air won’t allow me to bring my carry on luggage plus my small backpack. And it’s all over the 10kg limit. I tell the baggage checker that I have a lot of electronics that can’t go in checked bags. She makes me pull them all out and weigh them. She lets the extra weight slide but tells me I can’t have my extra backpack out and that I need to fit it all into my carry on luggage. Then she tells me it’s ok if I have my sleeping bag stuff sac out and carry that on the plane in addition to my luggage piece. I promise her I will repack it otherwise she wasn’t going to issue my boarding pass. I should have taken a picture of my little backpack vs my sleeping bag stuff sac because they’re pretty much the same size. Insert confused emoji. I comply with the whole repacking but the whole thing is super annoying.

Not long after boarding starts for my flight, I hear them announce a pause in boarding. A bicycle cop zooms in and then flashing lights appear on the tarmac. Several airport emergency vehicles and an ambulance arrive and they wheel a stretcher onto the airplane. I’m watching all the activity from the terminal window and after 15 minutes I see the stretcher come off the plane empty. After another 10 minutes we start to board again. As I approach the ticket check, there seems to be some more commotion and I hear one lady say “That’s it. The luggage is already off.” She stalks off in a huff and I’m only left to speculate that Turkish Air removed the luggage of whoever was having the medical emergency. So I don’t know if they got booted off the flight or they left without their luggage.

It’s a 13 hour flight to Istanbul and it all seems to be getting off to a rocky start. I go to my seat and someone is in it. Once that all gets sorted out, then there’s no room for my luggage in the overhead bin. There are lots of passengers whose luggage gets stowed up in business class. The guy sitting next to me has a giant puffy jacket on and he pretty much doesn’t sit still so he’s continually bumping me. My only break from that is when he gets up out of his seat or falls asleep. But bless his heart, we do end up chatting a bit and it turns out that he and his wife are heading back home to Ethiopia after visiting their kids in the bay area for the last 5 months. Kinda crazy that they and Caspar will be at the airport in Addis Ababa at the same time. During my flight to Istanbul Caspar has boarded his flight in Kilimanjaro and is on his way.

The plane is so fucking hot and I’m sitting here sweating in my t-shirt. I imagine how this guy next to me is cooking in his puffy jacket. They only give out one small bottle of water during the whole flight. Midway through the flight an announcement comes over the loud speaker asking if there are any doctors on the flight. A couple hours later there’s a problem in the row behind me. A passenger is afraid that the lady next to her has passed out. The hero passenger doctor comes with his stethoscope and starts asking her questions. I think the first thought was that she was having a diabetic reaction but the doctor concluded that she is likely overheated and dehydrated. They bring her juice and sprite and cool wash clothes for her neck and face. I hear the flight attendant say that he has just turned down the cabin temperature. OMG finally!

Istanbul Airport is big and bustling. It’s a bummer they only offer one free hour of WiFi. On the other hand, if your Turkish Airlines layover is long enough you’re entitled to a few free food vouchers to places like Sbarro or Carl’s Jr. I got a slice of Sbarro pizza and well, it didn’t taste like pizza at all.

We board the flight to Kathmandu about 1am and it’s a pretty uneventful 6.5 hour flight. The French guy seated in front of me is keen on using his legs to push on the wall in front of him in order to push his seat back to its ultimate limit. Fun. As morning arrives the Himalyan Mountain range becomes visible on the horizon looking like little teeth-like peaks sticking up through the clouds. The one hour approach to Kathmandu is absolutey stunning! It’s very quick to get through paying for the visa and passport control. What takes the longest is waiting for my luggage. I convert some dollars to Nepalese Rupees, get a sim card and walk out to find the tour company waiting for me. I’m greeted with a beautiful marigold garland.

Caspar finally arrives about six hours later and we share a few beers out in the beautiful evening.