Sunday, April 18, 2010
Game Set Match
Who knew an Icelandic volcano would be the unexpected trigger to derail the trip to Everest. I did not see this as a risk I should mitigate. After missing my flight to Bangkok and getting no hotel or food support from either United or Thai Airways - United and Thai Airways are useless in a crisis barring one Thai Airways staff person who helped me get my gear off the plane on the tarmac. I headed via train to Milan which was still open. I bought a train ticket but was never offered an assigned seat. This is key because if someone bought it they own it. I spent half the trip on the floor. Don't you think this is something the ticket agent should have shared? Who knew? Arrived at 10 am local time and the airport has been shut down until further notice. Thousands more travelers stranded many without much cash and no way to get home. Many are sleeping in the airport. All European business are taking full advantage of the crisis. Any taxi starts at 50 euros or 75 US dollars. It was $100 to get from the airport to the hotel outside of town that has no hot water, no Internet terminal, no one speaks English for the bargain price of $400 US. Can anyone visualize the Saturday Night Live routine yet? Oh, did I mention the cab broke down in the middle of rush hour? I can't make thus stuff up! I hope to find a way to the south of Italy where I hear the airport is open but I've heard that before. What I do know is the volcano is getting more active and that spells a longer crisis than thought of now and if you see crowds fighting for food or taxis at the airport you would see that CNN is UNDER REPORTING how drastic this is. I will be fine but I don't think I am waiting around for the cloud to lift. I am going back into the wind and try to find an international airport open. Wish me well and I will try to check in again wherever I end up. The scenic trip of a lifetime has magically turned into some twisted game of the Amazing Race where every pit stop there is not enough food or beds. Unfortunately I had the tearful email exchange with the Mountain Madness trip leader, Nepalize staff and company president to carry on without me as the window of time to get there has closed. I wished them safe travels and hope they can share the great stories of the trip when they get back. Sigh. Maybe someday.