Days 1 & 2 1/3 & 1/4
Our first two days of travel were a lot of waiting in airport terminals or sitting on planes skipping and jumping from country to country getting ever so close to our final point of Dakar, Senegal. In Pittsburgh Justin and I had our lunch at Charlie’s Subs where the Best Value is not really a best value at all. I thought with a name of best value we would at least receive some type of beverage with the meal. WRONG it’s simply just the medium size sandwich. I should have realized this when the cashier asked if I would like a drink or fries, but I gave the guy a little bit of a hard time joking with him that a Best Value should include some type of extra to make it into a best value. From Pittsburgh we traveled to New York City to the JFK airport. Because of the set up, we had to leave the airport and go to another terminal. What this meant was that we would have to go through security again. I challenged myself in getting everything into the x-ray machine, out, and get going in record time. I had the first part of getting all of my stuff into the machine done in quickly but the repacking of my belongings really slowed me down. At JFK we had a few choices of dinner places, but I decided to go with some frozen yogurt (which as everything else was over priced). At the airport in New York, a buyer is taxed by the city, the state, and also the airport; it really starts adding up with a 9% tax by each. We now got to play the waiting game also known as a layover. During this time we tried to relax and read but with the hustle and bustle around us it was quite difficult. From the British people, to the man talking about playing some cricket back in Australia displayed the diverse range of people from all over the world in such a small terminal. My first little culture shock occurred when they would announce something in Spanish over the PA system and everyone would pay attention, and when the English version was announced everyone had heard the announcement in Spanish and they continued their talking louder than what the announcer was able so we were unable to hear the English announcement. The plane ride from JFK to Madrid was quite long and was to be our time to rest, but with two meals, constant chatter, and cabin lights it was very difficult to get anything that could be considered sleep. When we arrived in Madrid we were uncertain if we wanted to journey into the city, being afraid that we might not be able to get back into the airport in time to make our flight considering the city is approx 30 mins away from the airport riding the METRO. After much discussion we settled on going to the city and we were glad we got to go for a quick visit. I’m excited to go back for another visit on our return trip home, hopefully I will not be too tired to go roam the city. We returned to the airport, got through security, arrived at our terminal, and found that our flight had been delayed (or so we thought). It was pushed back by about 2 hours which left us time to get a bite to eat. While finding a place to eat I pulled out the laptop at a WiFi area hoping to connect to the internet to do an update and found for the second time that WiFi is not free in the airports. After being disappointed by the price of food we were going to find a cheaper place to eat. Before we ate we wanted to check our departure time to make sure we had enough time to get a meal and still make our flight. When we looked at the departure times we realized that our flight was changed BACK to its original departure time which was right now. My job was to get to the gate and hold the flight while Justin and Jess were to gather everyone they could and alert them of the time change. People came walking into the gate area with food in hand and mouth. Everyone was told of the change and we made our flight after riding a bus under and around the terminal to our plane which was across the airport. Our flight to Las Palmas was very enjoyable for me, but others seemed to disagree due to the windy conditions that caused a turbulent landing. We had to leave the plane briefly so that the new flight attendants could board the aircraft, and then we were off to our final destination. Landing in Dakar was smooth and on our way into Dakar I saw very few lights compared to flying over the U.S. at night. We landed at about 11:30 PM and we were greeted by people willing to carry our bags for us. I did not know that we were not supposed to help them, even if their cart was stuck in a divot and our bags were falling off as they tried to push it out of the pothole. As we rode from the airport to our hotel (with a big lion on the front of it) we noticed that the roads were in poor condition but the roads are to be completely redone for next year. I don’t see how this will ever happen, but there were people still awake and walking around at 12 midnight right alongside the road.
Continued in day 3