Journey to America

A volcanic eruption is spoiling my plan to travel to America. Thanks to Dan’s mediation, I have managed to organise a meeting with Hugh and Barbara Cassidy. Dan is staying at his parents’ home and he has invited me to visit him there, so that he can show me where Eva grew up. A journey like this needs to be prepared in advance, and I try to arrange meetings with as many of the characters in this story as possible in the course of a week. The only one who isn’t able to meet me is drummer Raice Mcleod, who excuses himself because he will be on holiday in New Orleans.

A few days before departure, though, the volcano Eyafjallajoekull belches lava and smoke. What has never before occurred in the history of aviation happens now: European air space is closed down completely. Until the final day everything remains uncertain because some flights seem to be able to depart. At 4.30 pm the day before departure it becomes clear: my flight to Washington D.C.has been cancelled definitely. If I had booked the flight leaving two hours later I would have been able to go. However, rebooking to another flight is senseless; that is what all the other travellers are trying. The only option left is to catch a new flight a week later.

Based on the messages on his Facebook page, Dan’s friends are worried about him but like all true holiday-goers he doesn’t give even the slightest sign of life. Some days later he adds some pleasant pictures of himself – visiting his friends and family, his little daughter Eva Katrin on a swing. Nothing is said about a volcano.

The Americans all understand my position; most of them have heard the news of the eruption. New appointments are made and this time I can meet Raice Mcleod. It’s all in the game. The Cassidy family lawyer wonders why I am only meeting them on the final day while they can give me so much information. I consider this a sign of goodwill.

At Schiphol airport I have to fill out my ESTA form again because of my change of plans. That is not a real problem were it not for the long queues for slow computers which are operated with a very hard to handle small ball. This leads to hysterical scenes of people about to miss their flights. In my case, the computer doesn’t recognize my passport number, so I have to do my registration all over again. The problem turns out to be that the 0 has to be an O or the other way round.

The American border control staff radiate anything but hospitality and to make the disaster complete my Vodafone mobile doesn’t work, despite the fact that they swore the coverage would be okay. I have to buy an American prepaid mobile. The hotel in Alexandria, a stone’s throw from Huntington metro station, is barely accessible by foot. Americans don’t walk. 

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