“Um, let’s find out where we need to check in.” I smiled sheepishly as Tina rolls her eyes.
“Uh, no coffee…no independent thinking.” I respond to her eye rolling. On two hours of sleep and no caffeine, my brain was parked. Tina had returned our rental car, and I had not moved from the place she had deposited us to wait. And, obediently (or cluelessly, depending on your perspective) our motley crew, stood there still…three kids, five bags, sweaters, pillows and carry-ons.
I was thrilled to see that there were only four people in front of us in line at Cyprus Airways. In retrospect, I might have guessed that, at this time of year in Europe, this was not a good sign.
“Did no one contact you?” the woman at the counter looked incredulous. Somewhere in the blurred areas of my brain, I suddenly remembered an overheard conversation in a kiosk a couple of days ago about some kind of protests in Athens. The “what-are-you-doing-here?” look on the woman’s face was now making me nervous.
Over the next six hours, the kids surfed the internet, played games, read and bought giant packages of watermelon flavored gum (“they only had it in this size!”) while we called around and exhausted every single option available to us to make our way home.
“The very earliest flight I can get you on to Houston is July 1st at 11:20,” the woman on the phone offered me, from the Delta offices in Turkey, the only Delta number I could reach. Hours later, Haley would say to me “I can’t believe there was no way for us to get home today.” I confess that, in this moment on the phone with someone offering me a less than ideal solution, I was feeling a little…um…American indignance. Damn it, we can make anything happen! Why am I still standing here? I caught myself. Not my proudest moment.
“Yeah, ok, book us for that flight.” I say, at least in this condensed version of the story. The various permutations and options were calculated for hours. In the end, we piled back into a rental car and drove the little beach in Voroklini (just outside Larnaka) and the kiosk with the Keos and Lountza Halloumi sandwiches…and recovered ourselves.
I should end it here. It is a much more dramatic ending than the one that follows, which is a secret I will tell you that is really not that much of a secret. I do wish I were home now. I am frazzled quite to the core. I am sad for the kids who, while totally awesome about the making the most of their additional time here, are truly homesick after more than three weeks and really did want to get back. But it would be a lie by omission for me not to add that I am just a little excited that our plans were disrupted by something as truly incredible as the world’s oldest democracy demonstrating its voice in this way. That three weeks ago, I took photos of the beginnings of this, without knowing what it was, makes my heart race a little.
Something momentous and world changing is taking place and we are close to it…disrupted by it…inconvenienced and made to stand still for it. It is really no hardship for us to stay three additional days in this lovely country with our incredible hosts…but I feel honored to have my activity halted by these groups of citizens in Athens, raising their voices…because they can. I am thrilled to have our flight cancelled in response to the activity of those who have been for the past 30 days, holding vigil in front of the Parliament to make it clear where they stand on this issue, and that they stand together on it. The fact that they are not asking for anything specific…the fact that the situation is complex and overwhelming is irrelevant. The people’s dedication to being heard on this issue is inspiring to me. And I say that as someone who lives in a country heading in the same financial direction as Greece. That this has happened here first is not really a surprise. In issues of politics, they have always gone first.
If it is possible, Athens, I would like to return to my home on Friday, July 1st. But on this weekend before our own Independence Day, I don’t feel comfortable throwing about demands on this. If I am home on our holiday, however, I will be toasting you and your fight to keep the voice of the masses heard in the mix of parliamentary action.
And I will be watching, with the rest of the world, to learn what a democracy as old as yours does with a challenge like this.