Thursday, December 14, 2006

It ain't over 'til the blog is done

I met a couple of interesting people on the long trip back to Nashville from Cape Town. One was Byron, the very well-mannered 9th-grader who sat next to me from J'burg to D.C. He was traveling by himself (brave kid!) on his way to Ohio to visit an aunt & uncle he hadn't seen in years. Even though his dad is an engineer with an aviation company, Byron was taking his first flight, so I made sure to point out the little tricks I'd learned about using the video screen (turned out I never had to use my trick of detaching the screen from the seat in front of me to get a decent angle...picked that up from Bobby S. on a previous S.A. trip).

At the airport in D.C. I celebrated touching down on U.S. soil by purchasing a breakfast calzone (I suppose that's what you'd call it) and a Mtn. Dew. I had time to pick up a couple more souvenirs (incl. a key chain replica of Air Force One that made airplane sounds when you punch its nose--neato). Then I found I had even more time than I had thought, since when I got to the gate they told us the plane was late getting there and so we'd be late leaving...by an hour or more. So my 29+ hour trip would be a tad longer. Joy. United/Mesa did not win big points with me on this trip, to say the least. But it did give me a chance to get acquainted with Hugh Cumming, a bluegrass enthusiast from J'burg who has developed his hobby of trading vintage instruments into a business. He was carrying a banjo protected by a case swathed in bubble wrap, to deliver it to one of Ricky Skaggs' band members. Nice guy. Friend of George Gruhn, owner of world-renowned Gruhn Guitars on Broadway in Nashville. I offered to share my ride if there was room, and he said maybe we could split a cab.

Once we finally got on the plane in D.C., there was a feeling that the staff was rushing to make up time (I tried to avoid thinking about the fact that they were more likely to miss something crucial in this state). The stewardess had shut the door and was beginning her spiel, when there a knock on the door. She opened the door and it a female crew member who asked "Are you arriving or departing?" The stewardess refrained from calling the woman what everyone in earshot must have been thinking of her, and answered her, then shut the door, picked up the microphone and after a "sorry about that" continued her instructions. In the crew member's defense we were so far behind some of us were probably starting to wonder if we were coming or going, too. As I said, United/Mesa has won no points with me on this trip. Having to stand out on the tarmac in Nashville for even a few minutes while they pulled my guitar and the other fragile bags out of the hold was a cold welcome home, given the bracing weather that day.

Since I didn't have the number of the guy I had e-mailed to take him up on his offer to pick me up at the airport, (my bad) and didn't see him at the gate or in baggage claim, Hugh and I decided to share the cab. Meanwhile Ricky Skaggs came walking by and I pointed him out to Hugh. He couldn't resist going over to say hello, especially since he was carrying the banjo for Skaggs' band member. Skaggs was polite, and Hugh was pretty excited. It reinforced my unofficial motto for Nashville: "Ya just never know...."

Before long, after what I think may actually have been my first cab ride...can't remember having been in one before...I was thankfully home and unpacked. I called my would-be ride and he was at the airport waiting for me, having left and come back. I told him he still got spiritual credit for trying.

After a few days of getting sleepy very early in the evening and being dismayed at the early darkness (compared to the summer sunshine of S. Africa!), I'm getting adjusted and my answers to "how was your trip?" are getting less wordy. Now that I'm caught up on this blog I can refer everyone to it!

"And now you know...the REST of the story." For now.

1 comment:

Janelle Martin said...

Mark,
Glad to see you made it home safely, what an amazing trip you had! Thanks for posting such detailed blogs, it was really neat getting an "upclose and personal" look at South Africa and the ministry there. Blessings! Janelle Martin