It was hard to fly back to Ukraine...
...literally, not because so many friends, relatives and strangers on the street, said they were worried about my safety in Ukraine, (if the American, or Canadian governments or our mission director says our area is unsafe we will leave) and praying for me and Garry while we are here (thank you and pray for everyone else in Ukraine too), asked when we are coming back, (at Christmas for a month) how far we live from where they are fighting, or where the plane was shot down (my standard answer about 200 miles, is a little over the actual distance, but Americans don't think in Kilometers anyway!)
Truth is the Malaysian Air flight 17 crash caused me all kinds of problems. My mother passed away on Sunday July 13th, I flew out of Dnepropetroesk on Austrian Airlines on the 14th, landed in New York on the 15th. On the 17th the plane was shot down over Eastern Ukraine. The next day at the funeral, I assured numerous people that my plane had not been in any danger because it flew west after taking off from Dnepro. Since I had planned earlier this summer to fly to New Jersey for a family reunion on my mother's side of the family in mid-August, we had booked my return flight for a long five weeks in the future (we have never been separated for more than three weeks when I fly back).
Two weeks into my trip I sent cheap-O-air an email, asking what would happen to my return flight, since Austrian had cancelled flights into DNK airport for security reasons. I got back a reply that they anticipated no difficulty, since the flights were only cancelled through August 5th, and my flight was for the 20th.
I gave up for the time being, until I received an email saying my flight had been changed to two days later (unable to see the writing on the wall, since the airline had changed the no fly until the 21st, they thought it would work then) I phoned, was on hold for half an hour or more before talking to the first of many people in the next days with Indian accented English... I told them that the new dates wouldn't work. I had been away for five weeks already and wanted to see my husband. They told me that the new day was the way to go, right into the city I wanted ( I admit, it is hilarious listening to people trying to avoid having to say Na- pro-pet-trousk), but agreed that maybe they could fly me to Kiev instead. Next day. talking to Garry, he I don't know if I have time to drive you, and says tell them to fly you right in DNK, almost everyone leaving after teaching English go flown into Kiev on a Ukrainian plane to fly the rest of their itinerary. So I call back and talk to young lady this time, she says of course, Kiev, DNK, no problem, watch for confirmation email...
48 hours later, it's Saturday morning, no email has arrived. Phone India, I mean cheap-O-air again. Another apologetic man, says he will be back on the line after confirming itinerary, says I can fly through Istanbul, right into Dnepropetroesk. I check with Garry, check the Turkish Air site, it seems to be able to book a flight there then, OK. Call to confirm, print it out. Tuesday morning, guys come to work on electricity at my father's house, no power for hours, check email in the morning, things look fine.
Micah, who is still in New Jersey, with his new bride after attending the reunion, drove me to JFK airport in New York city. Hopefully they got to see the Statue of Liberty or something on the way back to the farm, and weren't just stuck for hours in the giant traffic jam that was developing on the other side of the Beltway due to an accident.
|They did find it! (and got stuck in traffic, too)|
They dropped me at the kiss and fly with my suitcase and I found I needed terminal one, so I got on the skytrain. Found departures, tried the check-in machine, it froze after showing me flying to Vienna and then Istanbul, but no flight to DNK... I found the check in with real people after a helper at the machines says it might be the best idea, the screen could be frozen for a while. The agent says no problem, here's your ticket to Vienna luggage checked through Istanbul... I said what about Ukraine? No reaction... except to say I will get my further tickets from Turkish Air in Vienna.
Maybe a little worried in the back of my mind after seeing that screen before it froze, but on my way. Got a nice seat on plane no one between me on the aisle and the young guy sitting in the window seat, closed my eyes for a while,, even though I never really sleep on a plane, felt pretty good arriving in Vienna, and luckily decide to go check out my tickets first thing...
Landed Vienna 10 hours before flight to Istanbul, go to TurkishAir counter, since it is tool early for regular check-in; they cannot find a booking, go to my email, then go to the site to check my itinerary with cheap-O-air, find a new message to call the 888 number because of a problem with the booking (how do I do that with no phone in Europe, why didn't they phone or email that the new itinerary didn't work?) walk back to other end of check-in area for Austrian help desk, where a very nice lady (who spoke excellent English) told me that there really was no flight to DNK from Istanbul either, so she said they could fly me to Kiev, next plane in 20 minutes, too soon to make, but there is one at 5:50, booked that... then flight to DNK next morning, no agreement with that airline, one in the evening but it's full, we can book one for Friday evening.... maybe my husband can come get me in Kiev I say. We can book it anyway, you can check if they have room on the Thursday one, or maybe he will get you. Your luggage is here we will re-tag it so it goes to Kiev...OK... I will get to Ukraine today anyway.
I put a message up on facebook for Garry about my changed flights about 8:30 in the morning, 9:30 in Ukraine. Checked back hourly for his reaction, until just before getting on the plane, when I finally got a message back...stay at airport, will be there by midnight.
Garry had spend the day at a crop test plot tour, ate the provided lunch, then gone back to the house to get ready for some people coming from pretty far away to check out the trade school with an orphan who was applying to come. He made meatloaf put it in the oven and peeled potatoes, and then left it all with Masha to finish, when he finally looked at his computer at five o'clock.
Garry was online when I checked after landing, he had stopped to get his front window washed off (there were many bugs dying on his windshield as he drove in the dark) and buy coffee at a gas station, and he said less than two hours to go. He got to the airport about ten minutes after eleven, I had gone out to stand near the road before the terminal, I found that new security measures had built a fence near the pickup area for arrivals unless you have a pass to get through the gate. We went to a nearby hotel we have stayed at before and drove back to the village in the morning.
|A herd we passed on the way back|
We did get stopped by the police, at one intersection. he said something about a bridge being out. Garry said we were going to Dnepropetroesk, he waved up on.
When we got to one of the big traffic circles, trucks and trailers were backed up a long ways in all directions. We passed by the lines of trucks and cars, and were able to continue on our way, apparently whatever problem with the bridge was in one of the other directions, because it was blocked off with cones, and police.
|Garry windshield really was still dirty after cleaning!|