JFK – Amsterdam

So, we’ve been up in the air for about 2 hours, roughly 5 hours left, and I’m starting to wane on energy. It’s really only 9.44pm from the time I’m leaving, but 4.44am where I’m headed. I’d like to get adjusted as soon as possible, because jet lag when traveling halfway around the world is a real kicker. When I arrived in Zanzibar 8 years ago (sans luggage which is a story I hope does not repeat itself) it took me about 3 days to fully acclimate myself. I’m banking on something a little quicker, and plan on having a run early on Wednesday morning before my flight to get the blood flowing and the oxygen pumpin’.

My long legs were noticed coming onto the plane apparently as a flight attendant came up to me, knelt down and said, “Perdon me, bit do yous speak English?,” to which you know my response. “Well, if you’d lika, you can move to seat with much more room for your legs, as I think you’re the tallest person on the flight. I’ve been checking.” I smiled, checked the seat, and quickly moved before take-off. ‘Twas definitely nice at first, but myself and the French couple next to me have grown quite tired of people using our row in the middle of the plane as their secret ninja route to the other bathrooms on the opposite side of the plane. The legroom sure is nice though – I’m fully stretched out – now if only the kid behind me would just take some sleeping pills and nod off, we’d be golden.

World travel has certainly changed in the past years. The planes are so much more comfortable (even in the aisle seat I originally occupied). They also give you your own virtual Blockbuster to choose movies from, and there are quite a few that I haven’t seen recently. I’m impressed, no doubt. I’m not one normally too excited for long trips in a plane, but I find myself noticeably more relaxed than I was expecting.

My journey is finally underway, and the excitement is growing in me as the minutes pass. Every hour or so lately, I’ve been stopping and doing my best to stay calm and connected, breathing to let the clutter in my hectic mind rest. It seems to be keeping me fairly centered – we’ll see how it works as this flight lengthens.

The thought of Nairobi and making my way to the Panafric Hotel is starting to make its way into my head more often. I’ve never been to Nairobi, save for a touch-down to pick up passengers before returning to the air for Amsterdam (note: the only place I’ve ever been in Europe is the KLM terminal in the Amsterdam International Airport, and I’m en route for a third stop this evening/tomorrow morning/whatever). I can’t wait to strap on the running shoes, and head out for a morning run before meeting Naufal and his family for breakfast. Naufal is one of the eldest brothers in my Zanzibari family, but we’ve not met yet. He was off at school, studying to become the doctor he now is, when I was in Zanzibar. He’s on call on the 5th, else he’d be picking me up at the airport, I’m sure.

There is so much anticipation, sometimes it’s difficult to stay in the moment and be here for each moment of this amazing process. I keep thumbing through my Swahili books, getting myself ready for a month with a lot less English. Since I’m going to be hanging out with a new American friend living in Zanzibar, I’ll have English around a little more than I originally thought, but my family doesn’t really speak English to me even though each of them speaks (or at least understands) it fairly well. Even so, they don’t really have to force it upon me, as I love learning languages and communicating the best I can with what I’ve got. ‘Cause shit, I’m not going to be THAT tourist guy walking around town in his Speedo and a tank top screaming “jambo bwana, hakuna matata rafiki” which is the I-learned-my-Swahili-from-the-Lion-King that you hear out of a lot of people’s mouths around the islands.

See, there I am again, off and wandering…I’m here, and the Aviator is on, starting to annoy me. So, I’m going to go back to getting annoyed, while I hope that you all are having a great Independence Day. For the record, this was one of the cooler 4th of July’s I’ve had, being that it was what I’ve always thought of as a New York kinda holiday with a volunteer hundred fire truck parade through town leading water fights and water balloon attacks. Dogs were barking, kids were smiling, families were waving flags, the sun was shining, and it was a good day to head out on the journey.

With love to you all from 37,000 feet over the Atlantic…

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