Month: March 2008

The Long Way Home

Hey there! I’m back home, but without a back. See on last Wednesday, I threw my back out, and I’ve been in pain ever since. You can’t imagine (okay, maybe you can) the joy of being an overweight man flying in tiny tiny plane seats for extended periods of time while your back is protesting every other second… I think this deserves a more detailed story…

Thursday, 20:00, Dakar (Senegal) My back is killing me. But we have to take a cab to the airport. So here comes the cab. As far as I can tell, it used to be a 1982 Toyota Cressida, the hatchback kind. Have you ever tried to fit 4 adults (including the driver) and their massive luggage into such a small car? Apparently it’s feasible, since we did it. Here’s a picture of Bad Bob in the backseat with all the luggage. You can’t quite make Inch’Alain on the left, but he’s there. I got to ride in front, because I’m fat.

Bad Bob in taxi

So we made it… for about two blocks. Then we had to get a second cab, because all the weight in the taxi was making the wheels rub against what was left of the wheel wells. Both Bad Bob and Inch’Alain jumped in the new cab with their backpacks, leaving me, all the luggage and my busted back in the same cab.

The drive to the airport made me feel like a derby champion. I already mentioned what Driving in Dakar is like, but this took the experience to a whole new level. At one point, there was an accident in front, so the driver decided to get in the incoming lane to circle around the accident.

Now you have to get rid of all North-American conception of a highway to appreciate this part of the story. The highways in Senegal are not 4 lanes each way, separated by a large grass median. They’re more like large paved streets with no lanes (as long as you are going in the same general direction, who needs lanes really?), separated by concrete pieces of wall and most of the times two to three feet height difference.

The driver drove into the incoming lane of traffic. In our case, the oncoming lane was about three feet HIGHER than the lane we were on. The cab balanced on two wheels for a moment, and I thought that we were going to roll over. I was already picturing myself upside down on the Senegal Highway, trying to get all the luggage in another cab – where would I find another cab in the middle of the highway? – so I could catch a plane out of here.

Of course, this did wonders to my already aching back.

By some miracle, we got to the airport in one piece, only to discover that our flight was delayed.

Friday, 00:45, Dakar (Senegal)
Huzzah! We’re boarding with only one our delay. Now I get to sit gently squeezed for 5:30 hours. Thankfully, I had enough Robaxacet and Ty3 to make me slightly groggy. Friday, 06:45, Paris (France) We only landed 30 minutes late in Paris, and decided to head straight to the boarding area for the 13:15 flight. We kept looking at the weather in Montreal, because major snowstorms were announced. After 12 days of silence, I turned my Blackberry on and was immediately greeted by 133 waiting e-mails. We spent the layover exchanging pictures, replying to e-mails and using the bathroom. This is where I learned that Gary Gygax had failed a save vs death.

BTW, the bathrooms at Charles-de-Gaulle airport are magnificent. They are spacious – a definite plus when you’re a fat gorilla like me – smell nice, and are not in a moving vehicle. I guess I was feeling the stress of the trip fade, as my ass decided to go tourist on me for a while. Now let me tell you: it’s quite an achievement to synchronize bathroom visits so they wouldn’t happen while in flight, but if you intestines are waging war against you it’s even more of a challenge.

Anyways, I was trying to save the remaining drugs I had for the flight home, but had to take some more Robaxacet. Our flight was only delayed one hour, but the boarding took almost an hour more.

Friday, ??:??, Somewhere over the Atlantic
We’re in an older 747. An older 747 with much smaller seats then the 777 we flew at this point. My back is killing me, my legs are asleep, I’m out of drugs and judging by the time, we still have 5 hours to go. So I start meditating and controlling my breathing drinking champagne, wine and beer. That’ll help me. I wake up as it’s time for breakfast . We still have about 2 hours to go. Looking out the window I can see snow on the ground. We’re over Labrador at this point. Can’t wait to get home.

Friday, 16:15, Montreal (Quebec)
We made it with about 45 minutes to spare to catch the bus to Ottawa for the last leg of the trip. Of course, the bus was slightly delayed. The two hour bus ride is almost the worst part of the trip. It’s not that bad, I think to myself, as visions of cabs rolling over dance in my head.

Friday, 20:15, Gatineau (Quebec)
I’m home! My back still hurts but I don’t really care. I want to take a shower, empty my bags and just hug my kids.

Sunday, 09:45, Gatineau (Quebec)
I’ve been lying down for over 48 hours now. My back is really acting up. I’m not going to work Monday. There was a 52cm snowfall this weekend and LovelyWife had to shovel by herself.  Hopefully, I’ll be better tomorrow.

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