And so it begins… (with a gaping hole)

Holy crap that took forever. I have never spent so much time traveling to get somewhere in all my life. Let me start at the beginning with the first half of the story…

Sean and I left Waupaca first thing on Wednesday morning in a rental car we’d picked up from Appleton the night before. We had a smooth drive down to O’Hare in Chicago and flew soon thereafter to New York for an overnight layover. We stayed at the Hampton Inn JFK (pretty decent hotel with nice shuttles). Before we’d even arrived at the hotel though, we noticed that my ski bag–my BRAND NEW ski bag, mind you–had a gaping hole in it. Like, it looked like an animal had attacked it or something. Completely unsalvageable for a trip like this.

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In fact an animal had not attacked it–the baggage people at JFK so kindly decided to shove it down the regular baggage carousel rather than use the oversize baggage door for my clearly oversized baggage. It got stuck and BAM gaping hole happened. So, after dinner we headed back to JFK where the kind folks at Delta refunded the $250 for the ski bag, plus a $100 voucher for our trouble and we were off in a cab to Emilio’s Ski Shop on Queens Blvd. where he had a couple versions of the same bag in stock. We left my mangled bag with Emilio, in hopes some kid will enjoy it for what it is, and I left with a brand spankin’ new GREEN ski bag. Thanks Delta, for making a crappy situation less crappy! Oh, and by this point, The Great Gombu (read: a cold) had officially found me again, somehow, and I was a coughing, sneezing mess. Luckily with all the running around I had time to pick up enough cold medicines to last me a lifetime (or at least a trip to Kyrgyzstan).

The next morning we took the shuttle to the airport and lugged all of our baggage into the line for Aeroflot Airlines. While everyone else stood there in their fur coats and cozy sweaters and scarves (very stylish and very Russian), I had stripped down to my tank top for fear I was literally on fire–I was sweating so bad! No good trip starts without a good sweat, right?

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Somehow, we made it through the process without having to pay $150 for our fifth bag full of ski gear for the local communities of Kyrgyzstan–probably a bonus from the Universe for our ski bag troubles the night before. Once through security, we had a little downtime before our flight, during which time we met Matt and his wife, who were serving time with the Peace Corps in–yep you guessed it–Kyrgyzstan. It was really nice to talk to them about their experience in the country and tips for how to get around. And we asked a TON of questions. When we asked about what to eat, they told us to always order a dish called Lagman (it’s like Pad Thai)– if we did that, we’d be OK. Also, they prepared us for what will be a starch overload–noodles, bread, more noodles and more bread. Good thing we’re totally OK with that.

And at last, we boarded the plane and took off on a ten hour flight into the great unknown, headed for Kyrgyzstan, via Moscow. And to our dismay, we happened to be sitting in one of the five rows of seats in which the personal TV entertainments systems WEREN’T WORKING. Seriously, that actually happened.

Thank God for travel scrabble…

Part two (the 36 hour endeavor) coming soon!

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