Carry On

Woke up at around 6:00am. Still dark outside. Windy. Raining. The electricity in our apartment is still off. No hot water. No shower this morning. No coffee either. I’ll just get dressed, close up my carry-on suitcase, say goodbye to the Driedgers,  and go downstairs and head to the airport. 

MaryLou is sitting on the couch reading her Kindle in the dark. She goes to wake up Dave to come say goodbye. Dave tries the breaker panel again — and voila! the power comes back on! Oh well — I’m set to go. We say goodbye and I head out to the car. 

The A22 freeway has very few cars on it — especially this early in the morning. It takes me just about an hour to get to the Faro airport. I park the car and go to the rental booth. It’s out on the parking lot and it’s raining pretty good now. The attendant isn’t there yet — it’s quarter to eight and he’ll be there at eight. When he arrives, he checks my car — checks the fuel, walks around it, looks for dents — all okay, good to go. I take my big golf bag and my small rolling suitcase out of the trunk, strap on my backpack, and walk quickly across the parking lot to the airport. By the time I’m inside my shoes and pants and luggage is sopping wet. And I’m cold. 

The airport info board says my flight is delayed by more than an hour — no one at the check-in yet. So I sit down, log on to the wifi, and read my emails. I’ve got lots of time. 

When I finally get up and go to the check-in gates I see that all three lines are backed up. WAY backed up. I go to the end of the shortest line and for the next hour plus, I’m shuffling my luggage ahead, 6 inches at a time, just like all the other impatient passengers. By the time I finally reach the desk, more than an hour later!, the flight is already boarding! My big golf bag gets checked-in as an oversize bag — I ask to have it checked through to right to Winnipeg so I won’t have to handle it again. The attendant asks if I want to check my smaller ‘carry-on’ bag as well, gratis, just to Amsterdam. Gratis? Well sure! By now there will be no room in the overhead bins anyway. Plus, I’ve got a whole afternoon in Amsterdam to kill — might as well spend it standing in the crowd around the baggage carousel!

The flight to Amsterdam is okay. Budget airline (Transavia) for this first leg, so no food, no drinks, and a very full flight. And sure enough, it takes nearly an hour after our arrival in Amsterdam for my little ‘carry on’ to come flipping out onto the baggage carousel. No problem. I’m in no rush.

It’s an hour later here than it was in Portugal, and it is after 4:00 pm by the time I finally get my bag. I eat a late lunch at one of the airport cafes (sushi and a beer), and then go stand outside where the free hotel shuttle busses come by. It is FREEZING cold outside. The reason our flight was delayed by over an hour this morning was because they’d had SNOW here in Amsterdam and had to de-ice the plane before flying it down to Portugal to pick us up. 

I haven’t packed enough sweaters and jackets for this. I DID have some winter gloves along, but they got checked through to Winnipeg in my golf bag. There’s no way I’m taking a train to downtown Amsterdam to spend an evening checking out the red light district in this weather! So I elect to go directly to my hotel when the shuttle bus shows up at 4:15.

Check in. Clean up. Log on. Catch up with what I’ve missed on CNN — and now I need to write TWO blog posts. So I write yesterday’s entry. At around 7:30 I go across the parking lot to the McDonalds and order a flat white coffee from the McCafe. Did I already mention that it is freezing cold outside?

Back in my room I finish my second (this) blog post. I have the TV on, listening to that idiot Trump spouting off about how he’s not afraid of the NRA and how they really need to get more guns INTO schools so that they can ‘protect’ the children! Boy, I sure haven’t missed much in the world of US politics!

It is 10:30 pm by the time I load up my movie, “The Shape of Water”, on the computer and settle in for an ‘evening matinee’. 

Final Thoughts:

Tomorrow I head home. Alex will pick me up at the airport, hopefully at around 8pm if all works according to plan. I’m looking forward to going home, but I’m very glad I made this trip. I’ve already said how grateful I am to Dave and MaryLou for inviting me to join them and for making me feel welcome. This Portugal trip was something that Sue and I talked about a year ago, something that we planned to do, something that Sue booked for us last July when she already wasn’t feeling great, but was hoping to do once she ‘got better’. And even after we knew that Sue wasn’t going to be making this trip, I didn’t cancel it right away. We didn’t know how long Sue would be around — when asked how long she expected to live she said sometimes she thought she might not make it to Christmas, but other times she thought she might still be alive to see the spring. And whenever I thought about what was ahead, about how it might all turn out, I too didn’t know whether I’d be going to Portugal — either way.

Well, now I know and I’m so glad that I came. It’s not my style to sit around and be sad. Sure, there have been quite a few times on this trip where I’ve thought about what might have been, and many times that I’ve been so sad that Sue wasn’t there to share the experience. And many, many times when I’ve really missed her. It’s all still a bit surreal. But (as Jerry Jeff Walker says), A Man Must Carry On. You just keep putting one foot ahead of the other. You keep going forward, one day at a time. With this trip to Portugal, that’s what I’m doing. I’m carrying on. 

So, buckaroos and buckarettes, until next time (which may be just a couple of weeks away), as they say in Portugal, “Ciao!” It’s been good talkin’ to ya. I’ll see you around.