DESTINATIONS, International, TRAVEL

Carnival Ride in the Sky

Welcome to Sharm

TRAVEL THERE: UP AND DOWN WITH LUNCH

You know those short flights where the plane never actually levels off.  You’re going up, up, up and then suddenly down, down, down.  The pilot barely gets in the air before the beverage cart comes out.  We’ll that’s how the Cairo to Sharm flight was, but with a little Egyptian flair.

Sardines in a Can

I don’t know how to explain this to you exactly, but Egyptians seem to take up more room on a flight than Americans do.  It’s not that they are bigger – one stroll through Walmart would prove that – but nonetheless what with gallebeyas, hajibs, turbans and toys for multiple kids they seem to take up all the area surrounding them.

What’s more they have softer boundaries.  I tucked myself carefully into my assigned space, but that’s not the general Egyptian MO.  The items put under the seat in front of them migrated into my space.  They took over the armrests.  Their skirts invaded my legroom.  At the same time, they wouldn’t be offended if my stuff escaped its boundaries, but I’ll confess I’m way too uptight for that. I squeezed into the most compact space I could and leaned towards my husband.

As if the luxuriating passengers around you aren’t enough of a challenge, the space assigned to each passenger is minimal.  I was forced to sit bolt upright, because my knees were jammed into the seat ahead of me.  As my fellow passengers found their seats, I was doing deep breathing exercises and checking my schedule to see how long the flight was.  I wasn’t exactly in distress, but I wasn’t in my comfort zone either.

Egyptians seem happier and friendlier than we do, also.  They called and waved to people around them.  Not to me.  I was obviously not on their team, but they reached around to pat one another and behaved as if they were about to enjoy a fine meal, rather than endure a crowded flight.  As the engines revved up the interior noise also rose and seemed to crush me even deeper into my seat.  Finally the plane pulled away from the gate.

Off We Go

We taxied to our runway, the pilot put the pedal to the metal and the plane lifted from the ground.  Just in case we hadn’t sensed the change, a dog in the luggage hold began to bark urgently – and he didn’t quit.  I couldn’t help but snicker at the chaos.

I swear the wheels had barely left the ground when the crew started down the aisle with their food carts, but there was none of the traditional, “What would you like to drink” stuff.  Instead we were tossed a package which consisted of a sandwich, a snack and a juice box.  If you didn’t want that, well then that was way too bad.  Apparently other people thought this offering was more exciting than I did.  A lady in front of me had somehow been overlooked in the hustle and bustle, so she screamed out at the attendant as if her life were about to end.

Stop and think about this.  The plane is making a steep climb, so the attendants have to hold their carts in place while they toss packages to passengers.  The noise level is already almost deafening, a dog is barking and a lady is screaming because she didn’t get her mini-sandwich and juice box.  I’m telling you it was a circus!

A Little Lunch

I can’t tell you what kind of meat was on the sandwich.  I doubt anyone could, but I had the comfort of knowing it was halal.  The dry roll holding the meat had no condiments, but there was some sort of pink pickle.  The snack was some sort of crispy thing and since I couldn’t recognize the fruit on the front of my juice box I gave it away.

I was crushing my paper waste and raising my tray when the pilot abruptly changed from heading straight up into the air to pointing the plane straight down to the ground.  I realized the attendant would not be back to pick up the trash as a braced myself for a hard landing.  The barking dog seemed to share my concern as he ramped up his serenade.

The whole bracing thing was unnecessary.  It was probably the smoothest landing I’ve ever experienced.  One moment we were in the air and the next everyone was getting off the plane with no gentle bump to say we had arrived.  Come back next week and enjoy Sharm with me.