Friday, October 29, 2010

Mon Départ

I spent my last night in Paris at Sylvia’s apartment so that it would be easy for her boyfriend, Simon, to drive me to the airport in the morning. Unfortunately (and in true French fashion) his car broke down that evening, so I was going to have to take the metro and the RER. No problem. The metros had been running normally regardless of the SNCF strike. Sylvia also checked the website, and there were no reports of any disruptions. She even offered to take the same RER line with me on her way to school.

We had a leisurely petit-dejeuner and got on the metro with my much-heavier-than-before rucksack. Then the problems started. We made the change to the RER, but it was only going to Gare du Nord, not the airport. At Gare du Nord, we eventually figured out that I was going to have to take the tramway and only a third of them were running due to the strike. Sylvia took me to the platform, but then had to say a rushed goodbye to head to school.

The whole world was waiting for the same train as me, and everyone’s nerves were on edge. As soon as it arrived the pushing began, and it was difficult to hold back the crowds to let the arriving people off. Luckily I managed to get on the train. People were pushing and yelling. I was wedged in at an awkward angle with my rucksack weighing down on my shoulders. It was hot and claustrophobic. I had to remind myself to stay calm and take deep breaths. The trip was long, and by this time I started thinking I might miss my flight. At one point I had to get off the train to make room for others that needed to exit. I almost didn’t make it back on, and some people couldn’t even get off the train at their stops because they were wedged in so tightly.

I made it to the airport five minutes before boarding time. When I arrived at the check-in counter I wasn’t surprised to hear the woman tell me that I was too late, and I would have to go to the ticket purchasing counter for a new ticket. I walked over and had just put down my bag for the first time in two hours when the same woman came running up and told me to follow her. Luckily, a lot of people were in the same situation as me so they allowed us all to check in and run to the gate. I couldn’t believe it and was even a little sad. I wouldn’t have been disappointed to extend my trip a couple days...

They were still boarding when I made it to the gate. Ayumi called me right before I walked on the plane, so I was able to say goodbye to her and two of my professors one last time. I had to hold back tears as I walked on. I called Maryse as I sat on the plane to let her know I made it and say goodbye again. Jerome called just as I was hanging up with Maryse to say goodbye too. The plane somehow left on time. I was completely flustered and sad. I already miss everyone I’m leaving behind in France. This will be a difficult return to Seattle.

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