November 15, 2007

Paris: Arrival

The thing I forgot about international travel is how great the people-watching is. I left Montana half an hour later than scheduled due to a delay, that fortunately didn’t hinder my following flights. It was a quick trip to Denver where I sat next to a kid who said he was in 9th grade (14?) but who looked to be about 12. He was very friendly and was headed to a Catholic youth conference in Ohio. I had about half an hour before boarding the next flight to Washington, D.C. On that flight, I sat next to a woman who was headed back to Vermont where she grew up, although she did spend some time living in San Diego. We had an interesting discussion and I learned things about her and I could tell she was someone I would be friends with if we lived close. In D.C. I spent an hour sitting and watching the masses of interesting people walk by me. I love to speculate about their lives, and let me tell you, I come up with some great stories when I take the time to sit and watch and wonder.

All my layovers were shorter than 1.5 hours each, and lucky for me, each new terminal was only one or two away from the previous one I came from which made it smooth and simple for me.

The flight to Paris from D.C. was interesting. I sat between one woman who was headed to Paris for the third time this year, going to visit her daughter who works there, whose husband is a stay-at-home dad. She beamed telling me she about spending ten days with her granddaughters. The woman on my right was a bit more reserved, because after making small-talk for a minute, she fell asleep and then so did I. I had hoped to sleep the entire flight in an effort to eliminate jet lag, since I arrived at 6:20 a.m. Paris time. The woman to my right woke up in the last hour, as did I, and we had a very interesting and thoughtful conversation about religion (she asked what my connection was with the different women I was spending time with in Paris, and I admitted that I knew them through blogging ~ ex-Mormons making up the majority of them, although none of us blog solely about being ex-Mormon). Her name is Carole (hi, Carole, if you are reading this!) and she’s a fascinating woman (doctor in Oregon with French parents) who will hopefully read my blog (she said she’d check it out) and who will stay in contact that way or through emails. She really made that flight enjoyable for me, as well as standing in line to have our passports stamped, and standing at the baggage claim area too. She was another woman I think I’d love to become friends with if we lived in the same town and I had met her in the usual ways in person.

While I had been in the airport in Denver, I saw I had a voicemail and it was Montchan, informing me that our master plan of her arriving in Paris the night before and meeting me at the airport so we could go back to her hotel to shower and prepare for the day went awry when she got stuck in Amsterdam due to a hole in her airplane (!!!). I made my way to the United Airlines desk where she had hoped to leave me a message with her arrival times, but I called Dartman first who was glad I finally did, as it was midnight for him and he had a message for me from her. She would arrive at 10 a.m. and I was to wait. So with hours to burn, here I sit, typing a blog post while I watch fascinating and interesting people walk by. Next to me in the row of seats is quite possibly the cutest little boy I’ve ever seen (besides my son, of course). If it weren’t rude, and if his mother didn’t look harassed enough, I’d take his picture and paint him later. He keeps talking to me and bumping my arm and doing that little kid flirting, but I don’t understand a word he says. I wish I did. I think he’s probably 3 years old.

I got to Europe and discovered my cell phone has no service here like I thought it would. Sigh. That could be a pain. But once I get to my apartment (first two nights) and then the hotel (second two) I’ll have my computer and can communicate with my family via Skype or emails. In awhile I’ll use my credit card and call Montchan’s cell to let her know where I’m waiting for her. She said she was arriving via Terminal 2F, and there is no F after any terminal signs I see. So I hope this is it. Having no cell phone in a situation like this sucks ass.

I’m loving being here, I think this will be a memory to treasure. I don’t know how much time I’ll have to blog about it while I’m with my friends, but I certainly will give more detail after I return home.

If we didn’t miss our appointment due to Montchan’s late arrival, she and I plan to have our hair cut somewhere in Paris this morning, and after lunch we will be meeting up with Genilimaa to check in to our apartment where Taiko Tari will meet us as well. Then the fun can begin.

In the meantime, I shall stare at all the beautiful people of the world and wonder what their lives are like.

I was waiting for Montchan in the completely wrong terminal…sitting outside the only arrivals area I could find after exploring the entire building. As I was finally beginning to panic just a twinge, I walked back to the United Airlines information desk at departures to see if she had left a message (I had called her cell phone ten times but no answer) but she hadn’t…so I went back to the one place I had described to her in a message the one time I got through on her cell phone, and as the elevator door opened, I heard a very heavily-accented French voice over the intercom: “Paging Leeza Frrraahhnk. Paging Leeza Frrraahhnk, would Leeza Frrraahhnk please come to the information desk at Terminal 1 Meeting Area please?” and I had never heard such a sweet sound in all my life! It was noon, and I had been waiting for almost six hours. Montchan had found me! The funny thing was, she was told they don’t page people at that desk, so she stepped away a few steps and began calling my name at the top of her voice, then she turned around and got a little finger motioning her back to the desk, so they could page me rather than have to hear her making such a racket. The memory of her telling that story with a mischievous grin in her eye makes me smile again as I recall it. The sad part of the Charles deGaull airport in Paris is they have no maps that show the airport having multiple buildings located far from each other, and very poor signage that gives you a clue that this could be the case. But now I know and will never make that mistake again. Terminal 2 where Montchan arrived and waited for me was 15 minutes away by airport tram. Nice. My first blonde moment in Paris.


Bishop Rick said...

Can't wait to hear the real dirt.

aka madre said...

How fun to read! It made me feel like I was with you. Thanks for writing with such detail.

See you soon!

aka Madre

montchan (MJ Bliss) said...

CDG is FAMOUS world over for its poor signage. You should see the bewildered poor Japs walking around with panic in their eyes in terminals 2D or 2F or 2E.

hehehe... And I used the word "Japs" cuz I'm allowed.

Jazzy said...

I love people watching in airports too. Can't wait to read more!

Talk to you soon! :)

wry catcher said...

I'm with Montchan - CDG is infamous and deservedly so. I can't believe you are so easy-going that you didn't blow a gasket over losing half a day of a short holiday to sitting in a goddam airport. I woulda lost my shit fer sher. :-)

Sister Mary Lisa said...

BR ~ dirt, huh? Could be I have dirt. But a girl's first prerogative when coming from a girls' weekend is not to divulge any actual dirt. :)

Madre ~ when we gonna do a girls' weekend with our girls??

Montchan ~ it's funny hearing you say Japs. Yes, you're allowed.

Jazzy ~ when WE gonna do a ladies' weekend?

Wry ~ blowing gaskets isn't my strong suit, sometimes I wish it were. :)

from the ashes said...

Lovely to hear some details!

lostinutah said...

Fun stuff! I got ripped off by a limo driver at CDG a few years back. Talk about someone with HICK written on own forehead...augh.

Cele said...

hmmm wing bunnies isn't quite what I meant by pictures, but I will be patient.

I like waiting in airports, awesome people watching, and if your ears are open you can over hear so really bizarre conversations.

Jazzy said...

You name it and I will be there! It would be huge fun!!

Anonymous said...

Will I be included in Girls' Weekend too?! Steebie-Weebie