First, her ukulele was stolen during her layover in Las Vegas. Apparently, she was watching a movie on her phone and, when she began to collect her things to leave, it was gone. She inquired around and one woman working at a desk nearby said she’d seen the middle-aged woman sitting next to Bethany just walk off with it.
Things got worse in San Francisco. After standing in a train station waiting for the trains, which were mysteriously not running, to start up again and getting in a tizzy about missing her flight, Bethie finally arrived at the airport to discover her wallet – with $500, passport, and other IDs- had been stolen, probably in the chaotic press of bodies as people loaded the late and therefore over-crowded train.
Unable to fly, Bethany had to get a train back to Oakland, where she’d been staying. I got a call from the station and dealt with a complicated array of emotions. Surprise more than anything, I guess. I was so ready for Bethany to arrive in the morning, to see my wonderful best friend walk out of the “Arrivals” Gate and for our adventure to begin. I was also quite disappointed, of course, and wanted to make sure Bethany was doing all right and reassure her that all would be fine.
Which of course it was. With a few exceptions, the terrible stresses of travel, the panic that arises from a missed flight or leaving something important (like a violin…) on a bus, turns into a hilarious story a few years, or sometimes even a few weeks down the road. When I described the Misadventures of Bethany to Dad’s friend Dean, his response was, “Well, at least the ukulele is gone” and to burst out laughing. He was on a roll that day, cracking jokes and doing hilarious impersonations of various odd people he had met over the years.
I decided to buy Bethany a new ukulele as a late Christmas, early Birthday, cheer-you-up present. I was also somewhat selfishly motivated. We won’t be much of a two man band without a second member, eh?
After replacing her passport, switching the Visa, getting her flight refunded and changed, and hyping herself up again, Bethany set off once more. Only two weeks behind schedule. I got a Facebook message from her saying she was waiting to board in the San Francisco airport. Surely, this time I would see my best friend in the morning, I thought. And what a nice silver lining, I added to myself. I got to feel that delicious anticipation twice. Everything was going according to plan now!
In the morning, I arrived at the airport with Dad around 7:30. Her flight came in from Guangzhou, China. I wasn’t sure of the flight number or other details, but on the board there was only one flight from Guangzhou and it had “landed”. It took longer than expected and Dad went to sit in the car so we wouldn’t have to pay for parking. Then the flight said “processing”. Excitement building. If they were “processing” passengers, surely Bethany could come through the gate at any moment! Then they finished processing and Guangzhou disappeared from the board. A bit worrying. After waiting another 20 minutes, just in case she was the last person on the plane or had gotten slowed up in security, I found the help desk and asked. The lady told me she couldn’t tell me about specific passengers but not to worry- a few other people had been asking about that and they just appeared to be slow that morning.
Great! It was now getting on in the morning, well after 9:00. I decided to get a coffee and something overpriced and carb-loaded to eat. I pulled out my iPad, which I had been checking periodically I swear, and saw half a dozen skype notifications.
I got to talk to Bethany for all of a minute before my wifi at the airport got cut off. She was stuck in China, unable to contact anyone via facebook or email because of web restrictions. She would be there the next morning. Bethany’s blog, adventurefishing.tumblr.com, is a better place to hear her descriptions of China first hand.
Since I didn’t have to worry about being sensible and helping Bethany get over jetlag, I decided to stay in Auckland that night and go to a little party with friends. It ended up being a very little party –more of a roommate hangout plus a few extras (such as myself). The following morning, I hauled mself off the couch and walked several blocks to the bus station. I didn’t even get lost once! But I did get within 50 meters of the bus stop only to watch the bus away as I was arriving. The second bus just drove past without a second glance despite the fact that I was clearly standing expectantly at the stop. Finally I caught the third bus, and whizzed off to the airport. I walked to arrivals and there she was, having just disembarked. All’s well that ends well.
We spent the afternoon hanging out at the beach, giving each other back massages, giggling, catching up, wading in the water and exploring caves. Bethany got stung by an annoying little jellyfish or two and we saw more starfish than I have ever seen. Way more. 30 times as many starfish as I’d ever seen. It was amazing!