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So… I made it to Hammam-Sousse

I made it here to Tunisia a bit later than I expected. The problems began in Atlanta on the Delta flight to Paris. (Side note… I saw Mike Huckabee walking by and he looked like he had put on quite a bit of weight… so much for that diet plan/book he wrote). Once we boarded the plane and everything was situated. Everyone started realizing that we were still at the gate for about 10-15 minutes after our scheduled takeoff. Finally, someone came on the intercom and announced they are having troubles with one of the doors not closing. Actually, they said it was closed and physically confirmed, but that the computer didn’t recognize it. So they are required to go through a LONG series of procedures to ensure it is closed.

Another 30 minutes goes by and it seems we are finally backing out of the gate. We stop about 100 yards back… but the engines are going strong. Then… it was extremely HOT. In the entire cabin! Apparently the starting of the engines shut off the air conditioning. They begin to tell that we are going to pull back into the gate so the maintenance people can work on that. (Big sighs all around – sighs that sound French in origin).

Around this time I call Hannah to inform the guy in Sousse, who is supposed to be picking me up from the airport, that I may not make it. I had a layover of less than an hour in Paris and we were already late by 45 minutes and there was no sign of leaving soon. So… after we pull back to the gate and wait another 30 minutes to an hour.

Then they let us know they are going to try it again and everyone needs to be seated. We pull back from the gate, start the engines, and the A/C seems better. By the way, it wasn’t working the entire time we were sitting at the gate. Unfortunately, we hear the engines power down… now I am getting frustrated and everyone, and I mean everyone, is trying desperately to remember what the law says about how long passengers can be kept on a plane. Apparently… it was at least three hours! They informed us that the engine “igniter” didn’t start correctly (if at all).

They finally fix everything and we start pulling back from the gate to try it once more. After we hear the engines start and stop three times, the captain finally announces that we are good to go. We begin to take off on the runway… at this time it is about 12:30AM or so (the flight was supposed to leave at 8:50PM).

I was able to survive the flight, despite the lack of sleep, watching the movies on the little personal monitor. When we finally land in Paris, we all have to re-book our connections. They re-situated mine again, but they gave me a flight that was 30 minutes from when I landed. I still had to wait in a LONG line for passport stuff. (Interesting side note… Tommy Lee was about eight people in front of me. Apparently he was on the same flight I was.) Then I realized the terminal and gate were on the other side of the airport. The snotty flight attendant told me before getting off the plane that all Air France connections were nearby…. he lied. I figured I would miss it since I would have to go through more security to get to that.

I actually made it though… barely. I also think they put me in first class on Air France, because the food was amazing and the flight attendants were actually nice. At least until I forced one of the to speak English… which I don’t think she was a fan.

Once I arrived in Tunis, I half expected my bag to be left in Paris since I had no time to confirm the transfer. Fortunately it was there and I didn’t have to tell Mick that the kind people of Paris have his bag. Luckily the bag was there and I was able to strap everything together. It was extremely heavy… but doable since I didn’t have to go far for a cab.

I walked out of the airport and grabbed a cab to the nearest train station. It was weird, I felt much more comfortable in Tunis than I did in Paris since I knew the language much better there. The cab driver was really nice and only spoke Arabic and French. We chatted for about 15 minutes or so about the best way to get to Sousse and he ended up taking me to the station since it was so late. Otherwise, an eight person cab would have been cheaper and faster.

I had to wait 2 hours for the next train to Sousse to arrive. I just walked around the station while everyone kept giving me “Well you’re out of place” glances. Also, I was carrying this massive bag. After watching a few cats attack each other over some very strange looking piece of food on the ground, the train arrived. This was a huge cluster of chaos to get on the train. I have a ticket with a seat assignment… it was a painful and confusing realization that they didn’t care about that. Everyone was diving to seats and reserving some for friends and family. I finally settled next to someone, who I can only assume, was half crazy practicing a song he was reading on some internet print out. He was rather loud and annoying. I didn’t understand any of it since it was in French, but I have been trying to forget the tune.

After arriving, my huge bag was hard to maneuver through the narrow isles. When I left the station I hailed another cab to the Hotel Myriam. I bet you can’t find anything online about this hotel. I tried and tried. It was surprisingly nice and a good cost! I checked in and went right to sleep… it was about 12:30AM in Tunisia.

I will post pictures tomorrow… today it was raining.

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