Saturday, November 12, 2011

We boarded the flight to Paris just fine, although interestingly there mwas much more security outside (on the tarmac) than there was inside. They rummaged through our bags and checked our IDs multiple times. On the plane, both of us got to sleep very quickly, probably before the plane even took off. When we woke up, we were already out of Africa. While it was light outside, we couldn't really open our window shades because many people were still sleeping and/or watching mvoies, and the light would have screwed that all up. We peaked every now and then to see what we were missing. Around Turin (Torino), Italy, we saw the snow-capped Alps, which looked really nice. We don't see that every day. Justin wasn't feeling well, and asked if we had any pain medication in our bags, but the medicine was in one of the checked bags. Crystal suggested that we buy some at the airport, to which Justin initially worried about having enough money, only to realize that we were now back in the world of credit cards.

We landed around 11am Central European Time in Paris, and thankfully did not need to go through immigration. We did have to go through security again, which wasn't that much of a surprise, but it was surprising how (uselessly) thorough we were. While we took out our laptop, and went through the scanner without issue, the person scanning our bags asked Crystal to take out her kindle, then asked her to take out the camera, then asked Justin to take his camera stuff out (mind you the entire bag was camera stuff, that was its point). So we basically took all of the singular items out of bags just so they could x-ray them again, even though they knew all along exactly what they were - a Kindle and several cameras. Such a waste of time, but at least we felt safer, errr, whatever.

Justin sat around in the departure area charging electronics while Crystal walked around the duty free shops, picking up some chocolates and macaroons. For awhile, it didn't seem like the flight would be that busy, but then shortly before boarding quite a few folks showed up. Boarding was fine, and the flight back was fine as well. When we got over California, we were coming in from the north, around Lake Tahoe. It was evident that there had been quite a bit of snow in the mountains, looking down from the air. As we got close to LAX, the weather turned gray and cloudy, not very welcoming. Interestingly, we came in from the west (over the ocean) than the usual landing pattern from the east. Back on terra firma, we were thankful that we were at Terminal 2 and not the Tom Bradley Terminal, since the lines were infinitely shorter for immigration, and also the baggage claim area was not so much of a zoo.

We took a cab back to Mike's place, and he was able to meet us at a nearby restaurant for some nachos and drinks. We chatted about our trip, and what had gone on. Interestingly, a lot of what we mentioned was negative, such as some of the travel problems, money problems, burned down forest, etc. It struck us as odd that this was our first reaction, since overall we had a really good time and saw all sorts of neat stuff, including the following:

General Sites

The Seine River

The Eiffel Tower

Arc de Triomphe

Paris at night

Manambolo River

Caves of the Tsingy de Bemaraha

Roof of the Tsingy de Bemaraha

Sunset on the beach

Lots of terraced rice fields


Icy Roads

Three Sisters in Anja Reserve

Black Pool in Isalo

Isalo lookout

Isalo massif

Incredible Sunsets

Piscine naturelle in Isalo

Spiny forest

Granite coastline

Sunset in Sainte Luce

Private beach


Plants and Trees

Baobab Alley


Local Kids climbing Baobabs

Even more Baobabs

Raphia palms

Currently unnamed Dypsis species

Hundreds of Jacaranda trees

Dozens of Royal Poincianas

Dypsis onilahensis

Banyan Tree

Majesty Palms

Fields with Bismarckias


Virreaux's Sifaka

Avahi Lemur


Red-fronted brown lemur

Dickenii Sifaka

Coquerel's Sifaka

Male Parson's chameleon

Female Parson's chameleon

Panther chameleon

Diademed sifaka

Gray Bamboo Lemur

Black and White Ruffed Lemur

Indri indri

Sportive Lemur

Giraffe beetle

Golden bamboo lemur

Giant moths

Milne-Edwards' Sifaka

Ring-tailed lemur babies

Mouse lemur

Red-bellied lemur

Walking stick insects

Flying foxes

"Dancing" sifakas

Ring-tailed lemurs

Perhaps it was the two 12 hour flights back to back that had us in a sour mood. It could also be that on most of our other trips, there really wasn't anything that went wrong, so this stood out in that there was at least something, even if not much. Again, it may have just been the 24 hours of flying. But looking back on things, we had a great time. The drive back to Vista was fine, and it was nice to be on a nice, straight, level road for once. When we got home, the dogs were ecstatic to see us, and we were ecstatic to see them. And then, as usual, we got back into our normal routine, which we keep for 49 weeks out of the year every year.