We called for a cab at 5:45 AM. A typical Pittsburgh cab, it arrived
at 5:30. When I hobbled outside in my flipflops, our prospective driver
hollered from her cab,
"Take your time, honey. I'll wait."
With this sweet assurance, our trip began. She did wait. We caught the plane. We sat on the runway.
Sitting thus, my mostly-numb brain ranged over the months past.
It had been more than a year since my wife announced her intentions to
both be Academic Dean of the 2005 Spring voyage of Semester at Sea and
to drag me along. The latter was the more difficult of these tasks
because I am a confirmed techie and Semester at Sea is aggressively
non-techie. It goes nowhere near Europe, emphasizing widely diverse
cultures. Our voyage was to cover Cuba, Brazil, South Africa, Kenya,
Chennai in India, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Shanghai in China, Japan, and
Cuba was kiboshed by the US government in deference to a voting
bloc capable of delivering Florida for a presidential campaign. So
Venezuela was added. Then revised plans at Semester at Sea reversed the
entire journey. We were glad, because travelling westward means every
third day has twenty-fve hours. Of course we'll also lose one entire
day, skipping from a Tuesday straight to Thursday.
Only weeks before embarkation, the massive tsunami hit the
Indian Ocean and swept away thousands Chennai.
Latest reports, however, say that the port is intact and so Chennai
remains on our itinerary:. It now includes Korea, Japan, China
(Shanghai), China (Hong Kong), Vietnam, India, Kenya, South Africa,
Brazil, and Venezuela.
My mind returned to the plane only to fall asleep. I had had only two
hours sleep the night before, but I had completely caught up all my
paperwork at home, a rare occurrence.
We reached our hotel in San Diego without further ado. It was the Shelter Pointe Hotel and was great. The restaurant manager served us lunch/dinner at three-thirty when there was nary another soul in sight. I took a hot tub soak outside in the rain.