Daytrip to Tunis

Eventually I fell asleep at 1:10AM, or rather I forced myself to retire to my purple boudoir and lying between the sheets in defiance, I set my alarm for 3:00AM. Yes. 3:00AM. My HTC quietly reminded me I would have approximately a hundred minutes of sleep. Brilliant. I thought it would be two hours of disturbed slumber at least and with only having three hours of sleep for each and every preceding night for the last nine cycles of day, I was not quite sure how on earth I have been managing to function. Or indeed, how I am managing to function at this very moment. Clearly, I am some sort of automated robotic. Scientists should be conducting tests on me.

Beep Beep Beep Beep!

I think I must have pressed the snooze on a variety of occasions already because when I glanced at the time, it was 3:50AM. The taxi, taking me to Heathrow, was arriving in forty minutes. OH MY GIDDY ENSEMBLE! I jumped from my bed as if God had descended from the heavens Himself and I stumbled blinded, into the bathroom for the most rapid shower of my life. I can only thank my earlier-more-organised-self for already having packed most items, ironing, and laying out the jewellery and make-up in obvious places in advance preparation. Well done me. I give myself a gold medal.

I checked the clock, it was 4:35AM. Where is the taxi? It’s not like him to be late (company uses same taxi company for all travel bookings). I added the last few items to my bag (lip balm, notebook and pen) and received an SMS confirming he was outside. After smalltalk that my brain was not registering, I fell asleep for the rest of the way to Heathrow. Again, just like last time.

Disoriented, I managed to visualise check-in desks. I would say hoorah for online check-in but as it happens, I could not print the boarding pass as the second leg of the journey from Rome to Tunis was not through British Airways, and Check-In Desk-Woman’s printer is broken. Too tired to huff and puff so I engaged my Britishness waiting patiently. After nearly four attempts, I was finally allowed to shout hoorah! Not out loud, obviously.

Each time I fly, I close the gap at check-in so I do not have to wait as long for the gates to open. I literally waited the full two hours on my last flight, today I scheduled an hour and a half but still, there I was twiddling my thumbs. BA552 to Rome, gates opening 6:15AM, closing 6:45AM.

Hm. Do you know what time it is? It’s 6:37AM and the gates have not even opened yet. Fail British Airways. But am I hardly surprised…?

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Does nobody realise it’s summer in Europe still, while the bitter winds of England torture us? We need a mass exodus to warmer climes, our monarch needs to pull her finger out and start invading the continent to rob the sunny skies. My seat is directly in the heat of the sun as I wait for the flight to depart Rome. I’m peckish. That half mozzarella and tomato pesto panini has been obliterated already. So much for slow releasing energy.

Tunis Air seats are so much more comfortable than British Airways, how is that possible? And thank goodness God listens to me. I broke my right hip sleeping through the flight to Rome, so if I fall asleep this time, I will even out the pain by breaking my left hip since I am on the opposite side of the plane now. I even packed my bright pink blanket. Oh. You want to come on holiday with me. I’m so organised.

*

Except I forgot the food. Stewardess proceeds to hand out pre-packed chicken sandwiches. The packaging has Arabic writing on it and I think, as it is a Tunis Air flight, surely the food must be halal. The stewardess is half-way down the isle before all this started to register. Tentatively, I open the packet. It is that luncheon type chicken, except it smells like ham. Smoked ham. I can’t stand smoked anything, it’s disgusting. Why would you want food to taste like ash, we have an eternity of that in Hell. I continue to poke and prod the sandwich whilst holding my breath, and eventually tear some bread for a taster. It has the distinct lingering of cinders, it’s horrid. So I seal the packet as best I can and place it on the drop-down tray of the adjacent seat. I would rather starve thank you Tunis Air.

It’s a shame I didn’t get to jump out of the plane. It is 59,000 feet up – the skydive was only 13,500 feet. There is so much sky to explore, yet we continuously root ourselves to the ground. Evolution is being pretty slow, humans with wings (not from Red Bull) will be innovation beyond the stars. I perk up a little but I am starting to feel tired again, I wonder that nobody wonders where I am. Or what I am doing. I am becoming quite bored of this lone ranger lark. My eyelids suddenly feel like lead. And I have no idea what time it is. I can’t undo the seatbelt. Is this because I’m sleepy? Argh. How frustrating. I’m going to look like an imbecile when the plane lands and I’m unable to operate this ridiculous contraption. Arabic, French, Italian. The linguistic stewardess Queen is talking and I have no idea what’s going on. No English. She mentioned the time but all I picked up was ‘heures’ which is hardly helpful. I really can’t unfasten this stupid thing, I’m locked into its jaws. It is my arch nemesis. This is going to be highly embarrassing. Oh. Wait. I have to lift the clasp aaall the way… my fingers ache from trying to press the tiny nodules that I thought would release me. Yes, I will die. Even the safety demonstration is in French. How comforting.

*

Really. Because these things only happen to me. In all honesty. I must have been born under the cursed comet of the solar system. Passengers are required to complete a permit for Passport Control when entering Tunis, since I was sleeping I missed out the distribution. I manage to obtain the attention of the stewardess. She returns some time afterwards advising they had ‘run out’. ‘Run out’? For goodness sake, it’s hardly as if the plane was full to the brim with stowaways in the luggage compartment. Meh. Since it was half my own fault for sleeping, I also let this go and without any French or Arabic, I obtain the card from the Visa Section of the airport upon landing.

*

Travelling is easy peasy. Why do humans get into such a fuss and bother about it all? I walked through customs without any hassle but unfortunately I walked the wrong way so I could not see the name on the blue sign this man was holding. I didn’t have a photo of the person who was coming to collect me, and I thought it might just be typical that Blue-Sign Man was the Man. However, I could not be sure and didn’t want to randomly approach him just to read the card since he did not look like he could speak English so it was becoming all a bit of a messy situation inside my head.

Brainwave.

I called Mr Shady. If Blue-Sign Man was he, then he’d reach into his pocket for his mobile phone. And if it was not he, I would hear the phone ringing… I should set up a private investigator consultancy. Babble PI, it has a ring to it, no? Anyway, back to Blue-Sign Man, he did not even flinch. I could hear no phone ringing. Joyous. So I will just stay here and wait like a lemon. But not so bitter since it’s warm and that makes me happy. I sit in front of the entrance on the steps by the Bureau du Exchange since there are no available seats elsewhere. I am not about to sit by a strange bunch of Arabic men. Two seconds later. Inbound call. It was Mr Shady himself, and he advised he was on his way. ‘On his way’? I am already here as he should have been. I still do not know the time, this is going to be a fairly important detail if I am to make it back for my flight to Gatwick this evening. Oooh. A fountain. I might go look-see.

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