Saturday, 24 April 2010

Ejaffacake and the Bulgarian Fun Bus™





However it's supposed to be pronounced (I prefer "Fag Ash Rita"), the Icelandic volcano and its spurious offspring, the Cloud of Doom™, have taught me a few things since they made an appearance on our radar 11 days ago.

The 5 of us (myself, Jen, our Amy and my parents-in-law-in-tow) had been enjoying a lovely time at our Bulgarian retreat and our flight cancellation was initially a small issue. We could make up our hours at work within reason and accommodation was, by nature, free for as long as the extended stay needed to be. However, it soon became apparent that due to the horrendous backlog seats on any flight, once the airlines were willing to risk "passive smoking" of Rita's ash cloud, were not going to be available until well into May. To make a meal of a story into something more bite-sized, we ended up booked on a (what eventually became 45-hour) coach journey from Sofia to London. The trip took us through Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary (barely), Austria, Germany, Belgium and France - some of which had tight border controls, and some of which really didn't care. And here's what it taught me:
  • God can whip the tablecloth from beneath your carefully laid table-setting at any time. Nothing can ever be assumed or taken for granted. Things like this keep us humble, reminding us that we aren't the ones in charge around here.

  • God is good and does good (Psalm 119.68). He's the only reliable constant and He'll always keep his children safe. Worry has not been on the agenda throughout the uncertainties of the past week at all.

  • If it hadn't been for Fag Ash Rita, we still wouldn't have got round to seeing Sofia properly. We're usually just passing through. It's rather nice.

  • If it hadn't been for Fag Ash Rita, we'd never have travelled through Europe by road. Serbia is really beautiful. Austria even more so.

  • Our little Amy (6) is a star traveller.

  • I inadvertently cuddled Amy's Pinky the Elephant for the entire duration of France.

  • You still get to see customs officials take back-handers with your own eyes. (Not telling you where, but your guess will probably be very warm)

  • Forty-plus hours on a coach with no toilet is actually not as bad as it sounds. And I still fancy crossing India on a train. I may be doing that one without Jen or the others though...

  • When your drivers start buying souvenirs in each country you visit, your confidence in them having done this before takes a bit of a dive.

  • When they borrow a passenger's laptop to use her mapping software, that confidence sinks lower than current interest rates.

  • And when the driver's simple task of taking us from ferry passport control DIRECTLY onto the ferry itself involves driving us back OUT of the terminal towards Calais, INTO a short term car park, and BACK through passport control again, you give up on them entirely. Bless.

  • And so this simply proves: every day is most definitely an adventure. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?
    (Apologies for the near-lethal overdose of metaphors. It's been a looooong journey).
    Read more!