Sunday, 19 June 2016

Jetting out: jumbos, hoop-jumps and jet lag

It's my second day in Mauritius. I'm still jet-lagged. Yesterday, I was too tired to be awake and too awake to sleep, as my brain and body struggled to join the dots across timezones, places and the past and the present.

Of getting no sleep the night before starting the trip to the airport at 1:30am, and hoping that the new proposed second airport for Sydney will go ahead soon, without planes dumping fuel over the Blue Mountains conservation/heritage area. Sitting in an empty airport with lines of light in the hours before the world has started to turn properly.

The surreal moments leading into travels:

Of having a window seat and no neighbour next to me (hurray!) on the first leg. Of not being able to watch Deadpool on the first leg, because the set and/or headphones didn't work properly so that I kept losing sound and visual, not to mention being too sleepy to concentrate. So I half-heartedly caught up on a comedy series I could bear, while noodling at word games, and being in a sandy state of half-awake unreality, and seeing the world slip by below.

Of hearing snippets and extracts of Mauritius Creole around me in the queue at the airport, of realising it'll take a bit of an effort to eavesdrop successfully, but not bothering because the conversations are fairly mundane. And ignoring the fact that it means my Creole has gone pretty rusty. Of slipping into basic French to speak to the flight attendants in their preferred language, while being inordinately pleased that my French could still manage with the basics.

Of floating through transit, being unable to properly concentrate on duty-free things, feeling doubly-overwhelmed in the face of shopping things and no arms with which to juggle extra purchases and not buying anything because of it, including not buying a bottle of Aussie red wine for a childhood friend and knowing I'll feel worse about it later, than I do then and there, and for the next twelve or so hours of travelling.

Of experiencing the unbelievable layers of security at the international airport level. (It's been a while since I travelled internationally):
  • fill form,
  • scan passport,
  • retina scan,
  • (you may get pulled aside by border patrol after the retina scan, but there's nothing to tell you whether you need an ok to proceed, or whether you just proceed unless they tell you otherwise),
  • stick filled-out form in a see-through box in the middle of everywhere and nowhere (which resembles the raffle boxes in shopping centres),
  • x-rays of bags (laptop and mobile separate)
  • x-rays of myself, and
  • optional residue scan (optional in that they randomly select people to be residue-scanned).
I get randomly-selected for residue-scanning on both legs of the trip. Maybe Sleep-Deprived-Me looks more dubious than Well-Rested-Me? Still, I was able to compare the techniques of residue scanners; they each have their own approaches to waving their residue wands, but they both drew an 'x' on the tops of my polka-dotted canvas shoes. It still seems oddly whimsical.

I catch Deadpool on the second leg, again through faulty headphones - full sound, but only through one ear - over the top of bellowing engines, billowing clouds, loud conversations of passengers getting acquainted, and cramped leg-room (and I'm a shorty). A fun movie that had me snickering out loud. The opening credits set the snarky humour really well. I'd like to watch it on the way back, especially if I have working headphones.

I then caught most of a French-made comedy called Eyjafjallajökull - based at the time when the Icelandic volcano of the same name grounded a lot of planes in Europe, and focussed on a divorced couple who have to drive to Greece to get their daughter's wedding. (Yes, I cheated and watched it with subtitles). I like the work of Dany Boon, the main actor (& writer?), but I'm very judgemental when I'm not properly awake and I found the main characters too frankly unlikable. I fell asleep and didn't see how it ended. Maybe I'll find out.

We shared the plane with a team of footballers (who, in case you were wondering, were well-behaved - no stereotyped 'boofy' behaviour), who were coming to Mauritius to take part in some international footballing competition (don't ask me which code). Okay, just for you, I've gone and looked it up. I saw what I assume is the Team name on one of the hats: 'Brumbies'. Oh well, there you go. It was the national Australian Rugby Union team, no less. [... Edited to add: Ok, no it wasn't. It was a club team, the Canberra Brumbies... Sorry, folks! The dangers of shallow googling!] Anyway. Having now demonstrated my ignorance of all things rugby-related, I'll move on. The Brumbies got a welcome (with sega singers and dancers) at the airport.

On arrival, I sneak through the 'Residents' line to customs, thanks to my Mother being a Mauritian. But only because an official guy with the badge asked me and said it was ok to use that line. But it still made for a satisfying queue jump. It was odd to see the Customs officers wearing police shirts (or, shirts with custom-ised (ha!) police badges on the sleeves). But everyone caught up with me at the baggage claim - the great equaliser.

I know of one Mauritian who works at the airport - my Auntie's honorary nephew. As things usually go, of course I saw him there. So the Mauritius network - where everyone knows someone who is related to someone who is related to you - kicked in straight away. Nothing makes me feel quite like being back in Mauritius as the network - intangible and real all at once.

Then, I finally get to see my family and then comes the long drive home and a re-acquaintance with the nutty world of Mauritius driving – with a generous serving of rain in the rainy part of the island, and, like turning a tap, dry roads in the dryer west.

After 24 solid hours of travelling, I’m here.

1 comment:

Michelle Kelly said...

The risks of shallow googling - love it!!! Truly an under-esrimated contemporary hazard!