The sun is shining, the skies are blue. It's a beautiful spring day outside and the skies are blue.
Wait a second.
Blue, yes, but something is missing...
You see, normally, the skies above us look like this:
We are in a very heavy over-flight zone -- it's not bothering us as the planes are really high up. But the sky is always criss-crossed with condensation. However, yesterday and today, the sky looks like this:
And why? All because of the Ash Monster!!!Volcano cloud plunges Europe into chaos! Our chancellor stranded in Portugal! Trains are overrun by dumped flight passengers! Mail piles up! German airspace closed until 2 pm today!
Our very own tabloid "news"paper, the Bildzeitung, has it all summed up perfectly. Well, it made me laugh. This is a problem, a big one. But catastrophes look different.
Truth is that the volcano has impacted our lives here in Europe in unforeseen and unforeseeable ways. All German airports are closed, all Lufthansa flights are cancelled. I am scheduled to fly to Dulles on Monday at 1 pm and I'm not being overly optimistic that I will actually be in the US on Monday. I am going to Mannheim with my brother and his fiancee (hah! Forgot to tell you about that, didn't I?) on Sunday evening, and if nothing goes on Monday, I will come back home and try again next week. No way I'm sitting around waiting for days on end.
I suppose there will be a lot of enforced "eating local" in the next days -- lots of our veggies and fruit come from Spain, Morocco or Italy by plane. Not sure whether they can switch this all to road traffic on short notice. Already the streets are crowded. The trains are stuffed and "everything that can roll does roll", as the speaker for the Deutsche Bahn said, after they hauled out even the shabbiest and oldest cars they have in storage. The airport rental places have long run out of cars. The Chunnel to Great Britain is completely booked out, as are many ferries. Our land transportation isn't devised to deal with an additional couple ten thousand travellers.
I have ordered a few items to take home from the US -- mostly fabric and DVD's. If I can't go to get them, they won't come here -- no mail is arriving from the US, either. Our chancellor is indeed stranded in Portugal, as our defense minister is stranded in Istanbul. Mr. Guttenberg, I can tell you for a fact that the drive from Istanbul to Germany takes 60+ hours of driving. John Cleese was stuck in Oslo and apparently needed to get to Brussels very urgently. He took a taxi. The bill ran to 3,800 Euros ($5,200). Someone else took a cab from Oslo to Paris. Say what you will, those guys did arrive eventually.
Someone suggested a cruise ship to the US. I'd love that but I'm afraid that the refund of my flight ticket won't quite cover that kind of trip, which is really too bad.
Personally, I am of two minds. I love the idea that a natural phenomenon can simply obliterate all air travel in Europe. There is something science fiction-y and dramatic about this that appeals to me. On the other hand, I'd be very bummed if I couldn't make my trip. But there is nothing I can do, so there it is -- life slows down a bit. The average person in Fladungen has not felt the consequences yet. I'll go and buy bananas now, just in case. A certain girl needs a banana for her breakfast most mornings, it won't do to run out, you see. Also, I better take good care of my seedlings, so eating local won't be a problem in a few weeks...