In my travels to 14 countries, I have never had a flight cancelled, and I had no reason to believe that my Thursday night flight from Sao Paulo to Houston would be any different. However, we had been sitting on the 9pm flight for two and a half hours when the announcement came: flight cancelled.
Unfortunately I have to admit that despite the hard stuff I had witnessed in the previous few days in Brazil, I got a case of the first-world grumbles. I went to reschedule my flights, and after spending 30 minutes standing in the wrong queue, I found the United ticket office with no signage, hidden away near an exit. I joined the end of the long, slow moving queue and it was about 1am when I finally got in.
Credit where credit’s due: The United staff were very helpful, and spent nearly an hour putting the puzzle pieces together to get me back to Australia. LAX to Melbourne proved to be the most difficult, and at one stage were talking going via Abu Dabi or Frankfurt!
Eventually they found me a flight, but it wasn’t for another two days. I had originally scheduled to get back on Sunday morning, as I am a teacher and we were due to start work (a student-free day) the next day. I wanted a day or two to readjust, and to mentally prepare myself for the term ahead. This new development meant that I would get back on Tuesday, the students first day back. Not ideal, but what could I do?
I finally left the airport at 2am, and went to the hotel that United had arranged. My new flight itinerary had my flying the next night to Newark, and then to LAX. Another consequence was that there was 36 hours between arriving at and leaving LAX.
In hope, I contacted some Australian friends in California, my former Pastors Rob and Tash Mackinnon. They were free that weekend, and we ended up going to….DISNEYLAND!!
Disney cartoons and stories were a massive part of my childhood growing up, but Disneyland was never a place I had imagined myself going, and it wasn’t a “lifelong dream.” However, now the opportunity was there, I wasn’t going to pass it up.
Rob and Tash met me at the airport with their two boys on a beautiful Saturday morning, and we headed to “the happiest place on earth”. Happy it may be, but it’s also the “wait-iest” and the “walk-iest” place on earth, even on a relatively quiet Saturday during school term.
Having said that, it was a fantastic day, and good to catch up with my friends. Tash was my music teacher from Year 9 onwards, and Rob was the senior Pastor of Life Community Church, which I attended for six years.
I went on about five rides, saw the Main Street parade, got a photo with Mickey and in front of the Walt Disney statue. The one thing I really wanted was a photo with Donald Duck, because my little nephews are obsessed with him, and it would have made me even more popular than I already am.
By 8pm I was done, having flown 18 hours in the previous day, across two or three different time zones. By the end I was seriously wondering what day it was. I spent Sunday in my hotel watching NFL (must say, United doesn’t skimp on their transit hotels – very nice!), before an incident-free flight back to Melbourne.
Arrived back on Tuesday morning, and now the re-adjustment begins. Of all the amazing stuff that happened on this trip, a cancelled flight turning into a day at Disneyland was something I certainly didn’t expect.
Big-time blessed, thank you Lord :)