Welcome to the Jungle.
I made it!
The last 24 hours seem like 6, but I guess that is a good thing. I started my international travel in true Maddie fashion by realizing I had forgotten my phone at home as we pulled up to SFO. My amazing dad and stepmom flew back to fetch it as I checked my bags. It set a tone for the day that I tried to breathe through, to say the least. But I felt infinitely better as I sat down on the plane and relaxed.
I got to Abu Dhabi yesterday after a 15 hour flight. It was probably the best 15 hour flight possible. No crying babies, no insatiable passengers. At one point as I was waiting in line for the bathroom on the plane, I looked at everyone in my cabin (roughly 150 people) and thought just how calm everyone was being and how nice that was. I got the feeling those passengers had made that flight before.
Abu Dhabi straight up smells like Las Vegas. A hot desert location where you can’t see anyone doing it, but you know smoking inside is allowed somewhere nearby. I felt like I offended at least six people just by existing right after I got off the plane. I was wearing acceptable clothing, but this haircut of mine is something to be seen I guess. People weren’t very friendly, and I said hello to a couple of burka-clad security employees who laughed at me. After feeling shut down for about 30 seconds I remembered where I was and that I should probably be a little more reserved. Another odd effect of traveling? My feet are so swollen. I’m assuming this is what they will look like if I ever get pregnant in the future. It is so bizarre.
It is so incredibly dry there. I was literally in a desert. I know that sounds obvious, but the most desert-y place I have ever seen is Las Vegas. It’s just this overwhelming feeling of barren here. It reminded me of that planet the sand people in Star Wars live on, or Rae from The Force Awakens. How do people know where they are with no landscape references?!
I feel like I nailed it in terms of avoiding jet lag. I scheduled my sleep just right in order to feel in alignment with current time zones. WINNING.
My arrival in Delhi was a little less calm.
First of all, the flight to Delhi was wonderful. I had a window seat (yes!) and sat next to the most friendly Indian man named Arnu. At first his chatter was a little much after so much traveling, I will admit. But after I got over that resistance and opened my heart to it I could see all he wanted to do was genuinely help me understand where I was going and give me pro tips on what to do. He was wonderful. He got my immigration forms and water for me, and as we left the plane he handed me his card.
“If you ever need anything, seriously, within 100 km of here, please do not hesitate to call.” I love that I immediately knew that he meant it.
That is such a wonderful thing about Indians, everyone here is networking and making friends and it’s not considered weird. I can’t count how many different introductions I heard on the plane of “Oh, I see you work at…Can you please get my number? I’d love to stay in touch.” What a wonderful way to make international connections! These are my type of people.
As I arrived in Delhi, my phone refused to connect to the wifi. This is where my ability to stay calm was tested. I immediately felt really vulnerable. Navigating the airport was ok, but not as many people spoke English as the Abu Dhabi airport, and I had to deal with a few more steps. Luckily, I figured it out and made it through immigration and customs just fine (not quite sure how-it’s a blur). I got really nervous though when I got outside. All the details of my pick up situation were in an email I had no access to. I tried to use my photographic memory as best as possible and just trust. It was difficult with all the stares. That many stares can shake you up when you’re already feeling vulnerable. Luckily just as I was bumping up against panic mode, I remembered that I had taken a picture of my hosts phone number for my mom. Thank God! So I called her and she guided me to the safety of my chauffeur.
That is where the all star treatment began. I was whisked away to my hotel, where I finally got to meet my lovely host Barbara. I met my roommate for the night, and slept like a baby. So here I am, having survived 24 hours of travel. And I am oh so excited for today.
Ta-ta for now lovelies! I’m off to Agra :)