Friday, February 10, 2006

arrival down under

We did it. We survived 30 hours on a plane. On several planes actually to get our butts from New York to Perth. Nearly missed our connection in LA, and in fact, our suitcases did not make the flight, but other than that, the switch from American Airlines to Qantas was like a breath of fresh air. Even in coach with the goats and chickens and screeching children and everyone'’s SARS viruses spewing forth, it was a pleasure. Not to dis American, but the Qantas folks know how to run an airline, in the old school sense of the word. The staff is neither surly nor overly ironic and hip, but are in fact pleasant despite the terrible truth of their jobs, which is babying a 747 carrying a human cargo of regressive-slash-entitled brats. The food was actually quite nice, especially compared to what this already overly-maligned aspect of the airline experience has become in North America. And they had nice uniforms and were well-groomed and cheerful in demeanor. The way it used to be, back when getting on a plane was a special experience that involved dressing up and behaving oneself. Thank you Qantas. Marianne even coined a modifier for the experience: Qantastic!

So then it was Saturday morning and we arrived baggage-free but all in one piece. Felt a little jiggled up, like we had been in a centrifuge, nerves all gone raw but not raw enough to be truly worried. And dried out, no matter how much water is consumed on the long flight. It reminds one of a hangover.

The Qantas people, thanks to the expert care of our lovely handler Ann, doled out a hundred bucks each to us so that we might go buy some undies and whatnot to tide us over until the bags got to us. Good thing because we had a function to go to first thing so we all ventured out into the painfully bright midsummer afternoon sunshine and grazed the offerings at the mall, located a short distance from our hotel.

Then we were off to have wine and adorable little finger food at the home of the US consular to Perth. Incredible view of the Swan River from up high on the hillside above the majestic Swann River and we were treated to a lovely evening of conversation and were able to meet a few people and begin to understand that we were not in transit any longer. The folks here are lovely and everyone we have encountered so far has been unflinchingly kind and warm. The whole experience of looking out over the harbor in the warm evening, freshly showered and packaged in our new clean clothes, made more than one of us consider the option of joining the foreign service. Many thanks to Mrs. Robin McClellan for welcoming us so warmly into her home.

My personality seems in need of serious revision at this point in the sleep-deprivation game so I will close now. I am hoping that a little sleep and a meal eaten with grownup size silverware will begin the process of restoring me to my regular state of disrepair, as opposed to my current acute situation induced by 30 hours in the air.