I’ve been jotting down a lot of my thoughts as we travel. They’re mostly just first impressions or minor observations. I just wrote down anything that seemed interesting. I’ll be doing these kinds of posts throughout the trip. Just keep in mind that not all of my observations are going to be correct. I’m trying to piece together what I see with what I know. Sometimes there isn’t overlap. You can see the degradation of my mind due to exhaustion as the flight goes on.
I got through Indianapolis without having to go through either a full-body pat down or the scanner. I got lucky. I was the only one in my group that didn’t have to step through the scanner.
My flight from Indianapolis to New York was delayed by the arrival of Air Force One. It was a short delay. Only a few minutes. But I have got to know, where does he get off? Where does one of the most powerful men in the world get off on delaying my flight by almost five minutes? How dare the leader of the free world cause me a minor inconvenience!
The security line in JFK is long, really long, past-all-of-those-rope-things long. You know, in Israel a queue that long would be called a “target area.” Why worry about getting a bomb onto an airplane. Detonating something before getting through the security area would kill more people. That’s an appalling thought. TSA hasn’t made us any safer.
What is it about carbonated beverages at altitude? I don’t drink a lot of pop, but I never refuse a beverage in flight. Coke on the ground is “meh,” but that same Coke at 30,000 feet is the nectar of the gods. Getting the entire can instead of a cup is like winning the lottery. The delicious, delicious lottery.
New York to Moscow
The plane to Moscow has a camera that shows what the pilots are seeing as you take off. It is awesome. Also, it helps people with motion sickness.
I wish I would have learned a little Russian before the trip. I wouldn’t need much. I just wanted to say “please,” “thank you,” and “water” to the flight attendants.
Russian flight attendants aren’t like American flight attendants. Any special request is denied outright, usually with a lie. For instance, Dr. Malakyan asked for water, and the flight attendant said, “Sorry. We’re out.” Of course, in a few hours the drink cart went through and Dr. Malakyan was able to get water, but in the meantime he remained parched.
I first realized I was a long way outside the U.S. when someone gave me distances in kilometers and didn’t even think to run a quick conversion.
I can’t sleep on planes. I wish I could!
The Spanish call them burritos. The Russians call them burritas. The Spanish looked at a meat filled tortilla and said, “Looks like a man to me.” The Russians looked at that exact same food and said, “That’s definitely a chick.” Weird right?
Speaking of weird things: You can get a darn good cup of English Breakfast Tea on a plane to Moscow.
Turkish coffee comes in a shot glass with a long metal rod for a handle. It has the consistency of tar and will give the average American eight hours of heart palpitations. (Turns out Armenian coffee is very similar, only thicker. I see it as a one-upmanship contest that Armenia won.)
Moscow to Yerevan
The flight attendants (and people!) seem friendlier on the flight in Yerevan. However, they all know I’m American just by glancing at me. I’ve practiced Armenian enough to be able to get through some situations, but I rarely get a chance to use my Armenian. They just look at me and know I’m a stupid American. Takes a lot of pressure off of me.
Armenians have a different concept of personal space than Americans. The man next to me is almost in my lap. We aren’t that crowded. He’s just more comfortable sitting that way. I’m far less comfortable. They will also get very close to you to speak, but they usually look somewhere else with talking. Eye-contact is apparently uncomfortable (or potentially romantic) for Armenians.
Dr. Malakyan says we can’t sleep, or he’ll make us write a paper. But every time I blink I fall asleep for a moment. I’m starting to dream even when I have my eyes open!