Go with the flow...its better
We are leaving on a jet plane… or so we think. We are always excited to depart, even though it is often a taxing journey physically. Crossing the ocean, over 6,000 miles away, to Ghana. Our first flight departs on time out of Hartsfield International Airport on Thursday evening. Erin has already been traveling all day from Canada. We are settled in and have actually completed our first movie. We are north of Bermuda, well into the Atlantic, when the pilot suddenly announces that we have to turn back to Atlanta because the toilets are not working. Yes, the toilets. Really? (Where is Uncle Eddie when you need him?) . We burst into laughter. What else can you do but go with the flow?!? We arrive back in Atlanta at 2am and, with a tired flight of passengers, wait in line for vouchers to nearby hotels. When we contact our Ghana CIH Coordinator Kelvin, he replies – in typical positive Ghanaian fashion – “It’s Bet-ter.”
If at first you don’t you don’t succeed, try, try again.
Slightly groggy, we head back to the airport for attempt number two. We chuckle seeing one of our bag, the neon one, on the tarmac next to the plane- all by itself. We are left to wonder if it even made the first flight. This is pre-flight entertainment that we share with many other weary passengers that we are beginning to call by name. We allow a few small cheers as the bag makes its way up the conveyer belt just before we board the plane. Pleased with our spacious seats (the first non full flight in several trips), we settle in for the next movie, and are excitedly on our way. Two and half hours into the flight, the pilot comes on and says that we are going to have to turn back to Atlanta – everyone rises in their seats – some of the toilets are not working again. We wait, in complete disbelief, for the punch line of the joke. Again? Really? He has to be joking! Nope… no joke. We head back, a second time, to Atlanta.
Three is a charm?
A few hours later – at a new gate, with a new plane, and a new crew – we board again. The airline has brought the big guns on board; we are convinced that the crew is an entourage of stand-up comedians disguised in flight attendant uniforms. We are promised that this flight will be 10 1/2 hours once airborne. All of the attendants have been instructed that we can have anything we want that is on board. Collective laughter infuses the cabin, diffusing some of the tension, which is approaching breaking point for many. We wait patiently for pilot number three to arrive – they have come from north and south to get us to Ghana. A couple of hours later, we are off… reverse from the gate… and sit...
Amy: Did the engines just stop?! Erin: Sure sounds like it.
We roar with delirious laughter once again. This could not be possible, could it?
Pilot: Well folks, when it rains, it pours. The starter valve on one of the engines is not working. We are headed back to the gate for maintenance. Don’t worry, five minutes of maintenance, five minutes of paperwork.
Several passengers proceed to de-board. Forty-five minutes later…
Pilot: Folks, I seem to have underestimated the time it would take to repair the issue. It also seems that I created a little apprehension when I used the phrase ‘engine problem.’
We get a cliff note explanation on the inner workings and mechanics involved in the start up of an airbus engine. Everyone seems to begin to breath a little easier.
Ghana or Bust, Take 4! Sometime around midnight, already stretched-out and half-dozed, we pull away from the gate for the fourth time. We get more sleep on this flight than at the hotel the night before and we greet the morning as a much perkier and eager airbus of passengers. Applause breaks out as we land in Ghana – two days later than our original departure. Finally, it is better!