A wave of dread washed over me as I scrambled to get dressed, screamed at my friend to call a cab and then prepared myself mentally for an upcoming epic failure. I had 30 minutes to catch a flight to Latin America. As I looked at my phone and realized that my bravado was no match for the tyranny of the clock, Parisian morning traffic and relentless red lights, I surrendered to the idea that I could not make this happen, no matter how much I wanted it to materialize in my bubbleish world of utopian fundamentals. I screwed up.
I was grieving the wasted money of my €75 ($98) cab ride and the flight, when I finally accepted that I had in fact missed the flight. I hid away in the handicap toilet for 15 minutes reading Shantaram without finding the inspiration I was looking for. I had indeed missed my flight, and the ticket office was not yet open. Two women from American Airlines are in control of my destiny.
After 10 minutes I'm told that everything is fully booked until Friday. That's two days away. I also had to pay at least €500 to get the new tickets. Two days later I would arrive in Central America? I had people waiting for me! I had a bus to El Salvador to catch, social businesses to film in Guatemala for Agora Partnerships and a loved one to embrace. How did I get myself into this mess?
Two days prior, on February 27, I had flown to Doha, Qatar from Nairobi, Kenya. I was picked up by Mohammed, a friend of mine, at 11 p.m. We spent the entire night driving around Doha connecting through conversations of love, life and the future, all the while consuming food, tea and smoking shisha (check out AZ's TEDx talk here). He dropped me off at Doha International Airport at 6:30 a.m. the next morning -- perfect for my 8 a.m. flight to Geneva, Switzerland.
I arrived in Geneva on Febraury 28 in the early afternoon. At the Geneva train station I meet my next appointment, Matteo, who works for this sweet company Vestergaard-frandsen that makes water treatment and malaria protection tools and products. We walk over the bridges of download before realizing it was just 10 minutes before my train departed for Lyon. With one minute to spare before departure, I push my four bags through the doors of the train.
I'm exhausted and without any sleep the night before. I knew I had to rest if I were to survive my upcoming travels to Central America. I end up editing video on the train before arriving in Lyon. I jump on a bus to Christian's, another friend of mine, apartment. Fifteen people are waiting inside doing a workshop on brainstorming. Brainstorming after two days without sleep is anything but easy. However, after the session there was music, mini-pizzas and cheap rose wine. It was suddenly worth the effort.
I checked my flights and realized then that my flight is super early, 7 a.m. Some girl at the event tells me that the earliest train to the airport leaves at 5 a.m. At 11 p.m. we head over to the boat where a live band was entertaining the mixed groups of beer and drink. One beer turned into three beers. I had all my bags because I realized it would be smarter to stay with this other girl who lived closer to the train station. We get home at 1 a.m. I start cutting onions to make some veggie and meat pasta sauce. I jump into the shower and clean myself from all the sweat I'd accumulated during my movements so far. I eat the food in the living room with everyone, strip my clothes off, put myself in the sleeping bag, turn the alarm on at 4 a.m. and fall asleep. It went so fast. Four hours later I woke up and...
One option for a new flight will cost me $3,000. No. Them I'm offered a different itinerary for $1,800. I ask if I can fly from Paris. $250 to change and $300 dollars to cover the difference in price between my original and new flight; the best deal I'd been offered so far. Done. I say goodbye to the ladies of the booking office, get a train ticket and sit down inside that beautiful piece of metal to start the journey back to town. At the main train station I switched to a bus and got back to the apartment where it all started night before. I start writing emails to the people that were expecting me that night in Nicaragua.
I don't like failure, mistakes, making people wait. I sometimes I treat my body like a machine that never needs rest, maintenance or food. Because I've succeeded on many levels living life at the speed of light, I never expect it to slow down. I was surprised when the science of doing the most with the least sometimes doesn't pan out. Sometimes you need eight hours of sleep or a backup alarm clock. In a world with so much adventure, great ideas and people to meet, I don't want to miss anything -- but I can't forget that sometimes plans unravel, and well, there are human limits.
I post the situation on Facebook.
First one to reply is Philippa Young who says "Uh oh. Slippery slope!" A minute later Michael Weiss says "Welcome to the club .... :)" Helen Durrant then comments with a " Ooohhhh.... So you are human. Wow! Surprise!"