plan was to drive out to Budakeszi this morning first
thing and show Zsolt the new book design we did based on
his and Aili's and Agi's and whoever's comments. This
being Hungary, the plans changed. Zsolt was in his
mother's basement doing something or other with
contractors who were making some repairs or some such to
the basement. So, off we went to Maci's house in the
general vicinity of Moskva tér.
Maci was thrilled to see me. She
has fond memories of our extreme birding expedition two
years ago (Otis tarda was a life bird for both of
us.) She offered me a glass of milk - the only cold
beverage she had on hand because she'd just said good-bye
to a bunch of house guests- and we sat down to reminisce
about birding while Zsolt and István talked about
the grant application or some such.
Finally, the guys emerged from the
basement to discuss the book design. Zsolt offered us
coffee before ascertaining whether his mother in fact had
any coffee in the house. Fortunately she did. We went
over the book design over coffee and he seemed satisfied
with it this time. This is good because I am leaving this
afternoon so don't have a whole lot of time to redo all
the stuff I've already done. One could wish that master
pages in Quark worked the same way as templates in
FrameMaker, but they don't, so I am relieved I don't have
to change the format.
So we all drank our coffee and
continued to discuss the Otis tarda expedition.
Maci didn't even mention my falling off the cliff. She
was much more interested in talking about the birds we
saw. I was amazed at how active she was at age 86 and now
am even more amazed at how active she still is at 88! I'm
suddenly feeling old at 52!
With hugs and kisses from Maci, we
headed to Budakeszi after all, because there was stuff
there needed back in Budapest. So I got to say good-bye
to Agi and Aili also. Didn't have a chance to pick any
more plums though.
Back at the Botanical Department
(why do I feel like I've traveled all over creation this
morning?) Marti met us with some homemade biscuits,
including some for me to take on the plane with me. Then
on to the airport.
Now keep in mind that we called
British Airways to confirm my flight early this morning.
They said everything was find and to be at the airport 2
hours before flight time. Keep this in mind.
I go to check in. The line's not
very long. This'll be a breeze. Hah! When it's my turn
the poor British Airways person explains for what is
apparently the billionth time this afternoon that there
is a wildcat strike at Heathrow in terminal 4. That would
be where my flight to Boston would leave from. "Go to the
ticket counter and a British Airways representative will
rebook you on a different airline." "Uh, OK."
The line at the ticket counter is
slow and is growing exponentially behind me. The woman in
front of me in line is apparently trying to rebook her
whole family to Hong Kong and doesn't have all the
tickets. This takes up one ticket agent's time for about
an hour. There are only two ticket agents. When it's
finally my turn, the agent types various combinations
into the computer for about 20 minutes or so and finally
says "I've booked you on a flight to Toronto with a
connecting flight from there to Boston. Here's your
itinerary." Just then István returns from a walk
around the terminal and I show him the itinerary, which I
haven't really looked at yet. Suddenly, we both notice
the flight to Toronto leaves Budapest at 14:10 (2:10 PM)
-- that's in 15 minutes! They're already boarding. There
is no way I can check my bags, go thru security and
immigration, and get on the plane. The agent looks at it
again. "Sorry, I thought the flight was at 14:50". More
typing for a further 10 or 15 minutes and I'm on a
Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt with a very tight
connection, but doable nonetheless.
I bid the Hungarians a fond "hello"
- I never cease to be amused by the fact that they say
hello to mean good-bye - and sail effortlessly through
security and customs and even have time to down a
Scweppes Bitter Lemon before boarding.
It's a short flight to Frankfurt,
but there's some weather and the flight gets into a
holding pattern. All around me people are freaking out
about missing their connecting flights. Like they can do
anything while they're still in the air. On the ground
the freak-out people, at least 4 of whom are headed for
the same flight I am, are tense and hostile and trying to
get ahead of other people to get off the bus from the
tarmac to the terminal. For some reason, this is not
bothering me. Either I'm extraordinarily tired or I've
regained some semblance of the calm I used to have before
I went to work at Starship Startup.
I made it to the gate ahead of 2 of
the most obnoxious freak-out people despite my walking at
a steady pace instead of rushing and pushing people out
of the way. And, after all this, I finally noticed that
the lovely British Airways ticket agent had upgraded me
to First Class. So with gourmet food from an Italian chef
and a near flat sleeper seat I read St. Peter's
Umbrella in style and got home tonight an hour
earlier than planned.
All that in one day and it's not
even my bedtime yet in this time zone.