Friday, August 25, 2006

jetlag and nits by Nicola Jane Barratt

jetlag and nits - Aug 24, 2006

We arrived at Newark with our allotted 12 checked bags and a number of carry-ons. Then two of the carry-ons became checked bags due to the no fluids on board rule. They did let us bring the 4 oz of liquid Tylenol but what how was i supposed to survive with no toothpaste for 32 hours? no problem - international flights always include that little amenities bag as well as a glass of wine to calm the nerves, right? wrong! US carriers no longer give out amenities or free drinks! ugh! well, then it turns out that Continental has no agreement with AIr Mad so the bags can't be checked to Mad anyway - they can only go as far as Paris...

so, during take-off i find the first bug crawling around on Gabby's
head but i don't think too much - lots of bugs in the US in
summertime, right?

We land at Charles de Gaulle at 1:30 am our time - the airport has no
security at all but is a nightmare nonetheless - we retrieve the 14
checked bags and are trying to lug them to our nearby day rooms at the
Comfort Hotel. We ask several employees (in French) if the shuttle
bus is coming to the sign-posted shuttle bus waiting area at door #5 -
they all say, "Oui, la prochaine autobus, certainement"...after an
hour, someone finally tells us that due to roadworks the shuttle only
comes to door #5 in the next terminal...aaah, the french – so
helpful and informed, so dedicated to their jobs - my only hope, in
retrospect, is that during one or more of these conversations some of
my lice jumped onto their heads!!! The Comfort Inn is not, but at
least we lie down for a few hours and dig the toothpaste out of the
checked bags, the journey back via 2 buses and the wrong terminal,
thanks to some other helpful frenchmen is worse than you can imagine.

It is 11 hours to Tana from Paris - AIr Mad nas no in-flight
entertainment. Bill (who just turned 2) has no option but to raise
and lower his tray table for 11 hours. The chair cushions are one
inch thick - so no chance of me dozing off and letting Bill play with
his tray table without supervision. At last, Bill finds another
activity. He stands up on his chair, turns around to face the seats
behind and thwacks a sleeping gentleman over the head with his bottle
full of milk! The gentleman is very nice and only mumbles that
perhaps he could stop! The people in front of us are not quite as
understanding of Bill's boredom - at one point, a heavily made-up,
bejewelled frenchwoman turns around and yells "SSSSTTTTTOOPPPPP" at
bill - my only hope is that some of Bill's lice jumped onto her head!

Its about now that we all start getting really itchy - but, hey,
planes are really dry - maybe its just the dryness, right?

We land in Tana and things improve dramatically - someone from the
embassy is there to whisk us through immigration without waiting for
even a minute. All the bags arrive unscathed. Jay, our new director,
is there to pick us up and hands us $1000 in local currency. But the
currency is weird - its called Ariari - the government decided to
change from Malagasy francs to ariari several years ago – so all the
prices in the shops and the currency itself are expressed as ariari
but the local people still talk and discuss all wages and prices in
francs – the exchange rate is set at 5 francs to one ariari and there
are 2000 (fluctuating) ariari to $1 but it is certainly more difficult
doing two conversions instead of just one, especially with 8 hours of
time change!!

We get to our house and its huge and clean as a whistle – Denise, our
cook and Aimee, our nanny, have been there cleaning for a week – there
is food and milk and water in the fridge. Teak French doors , with
teak screen doors, lead from all the rooms, even the kitchen, out to
the verandahs. The floors are all teak parquet and the stairs and
banisters are teak. We've put the kids upstairs – there are 3
bedrooms, a playroom and a huge bathroom up there! Downstairs is the
master bedroom, guest room, office, living, dining rooms, the kitchen
and a screen porch. Garden isn't too big but there are two large
tortoises resident.

We hit the sack and wake up to the smell of cooking – Denise and Aimee
arrived at 8 and started preparing meals and unpacking for us while we
slept! Next morning, I wake at 6:30 – the container is arriving at 7
– and find a louse crawling down my forehead. Gross!! But what to do
– can't leave and get back before the container – just have to suffer
and scratch and itch! Container arrives with Jay – who I have no
choice but to ask for assistance with the lice – he takes a step back,
says "Wow – you were in my car yesterday – but, don't worry, I'll send
my driver out to get you plenty of shampoo" Driver arrives an hour
later – after the container is fully unloaded, the whole family gets
naked and shampoos. Since we're up all night with no TV, we sit and
pick nits out of each other's hair – the perfect jet lag activity!!!

Madagascar – great French patries!!!! Chilly at night, hilly,
architecture is sort of French, sort of asian. People seem more asian
than African, lots of French shops, a few south African. noone speaks
english!!!!!! it's a bit tiring but my french is improving

School is small, most students are Malagasy, not much green space ....

More soon – we're still picking nits!!!! Nikki

No comments: