It seemed a simple enough request: an economy class ticket to Athens, Greece. I was on my way to an archaeology seminar, at which I was going to be presenting a paper on the problems of post-Victorian spoil in the corrupting of sites.
With my bags packed and ticket in hand, I arrived at Gatwick and was surprised that I was expected to fill in a United States visa form. I rolled my eyes and thought “Sounds like Trump’s America, needing to file if you will be within 24,000 miles of US territory,” but filled it in I did.
I put my carry-on in the overhead storage and settled into my seat. I must have dozed through the rest of the pre-flight. Later as I woke I was surprised at the number of southern drawls I could hear from my fellow passengers.
“I can’t wait to get to Athens,” one explained to a neighbour. “I haven’t been home for years.”
Shortly afterwards the pilot announced that we were beginning our descent. He then announced that the temperature in Athens, Georgia was a mild 72 degrees.
When I “de-planed,” I insisted on seeing someone at customer services. I was told I would first need to clear customs, and the desk would be on the left after leaving immigration.
I tried to explain that I wasn’t staying, but to no avail.
I followed the crowd to the customs hall and the agent asked to check my bag. She opened the bag, and then pushed a button. Suddenly five more agents arrived.
“Sir, what are these?” the first asked.
“They are Medieval glass beads in the one plastic bag, and Victorian beads in the other. They are examples from my research,” I began to explain as they brought a German Shepard to sniff the bags of brightly coloured, pill sized beads. Fortunately the dog was not phased by the contents.
I finally got to the service desk, and after some apologies I was given a ticket back to London, it being too late to make the Athens conference.
As part of the apology I was give a $20 voucher to be used in duty-free. I quickly went into the DF concourse and grabbed a “real American hot dog” for only $19.95. Being late for my flight I swiftly put this and my nickles change into my carry-on.
After boarding, we were delayed by severe thunderstorms, but eventually took off. The plane soon reentered the stormy weather, and we were pummeled by a series of lightening strikes. One of the engines caught alight and we made a controlled but unplanned descent into the ocean in the Devil’s Triangle.
The plane came down in surprisingly calm water off the coast of a small island. There were a few bumps and bruises, but everyone survived.
On the island was a series of WW2 metal huts, a large campfire pit (which was strewn with charred Pepsi cans and carbonised marshmallows), and several kayaks. We had places to stay – a win, and some might try to seek rescue by taking a kayak to a bigger island we could see on the horizon, but no one felt intrepid enough to give it a go.
Two days later we were surprised by the sound of a ship coming into the lagoon near the campsite. Sixty-four Bahamian Boy Scouts and their leaders had just arrived to use the camp. We were rescued. I quickly gabbed two Pepsi cans and a handful of marshmallows.
As soon as I returned to England I began my most important academic work: “The problems of modern leisure rubbish on the preservation of WW2 historical sites.”
Haunted Wordsmith’s Fibbing Friday
You wanted to book a trip to Athens, but the agent misunderstood you…where did they send you? What will customs agents find in your luggage? What do you sneak aboard the flight, and what do you sneak it in? The plane crashes — everyone survives — where did you crash? What are three things you find at your crash site? Survivors see a rescue opportunity but don’t take it…why? What are you finally rescued by? What is the first thing you do when you get back home?
- The airline offers you money, but you turn it down…what do you get instead?
- You decide that a cruise is safer, where do you go?
- You get marooned on a deserted island but find huts and scientific equipment made out of coconuts…what happened to Gilligan and the Skipper?
- A fishing boat rescues you, but you have to pay Poseidon for safe passage…what do you pay?
- He rejects your fare and throws you across the world…you land safely, but where do you end up?
How does your story end?
3 thoughts on “Athens: An Adventure”
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Read with interest and an increasingly prominent question-mark. Fact or fiction?
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Oh my, what a roller coaster adventure! And only $20 for all the inconvenience?
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