Friday, May 7, 2010

Soft Landing

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I finally had my head turned to “re-entry” mode. We cleaned the apartment, stored some stuff with neighbors and went to Marseille to get started on our trip home.

Ellen had already confirmed that since we had purchased our tickets before November of 2009, we were still allowed two pieces of luggage each. We arrived at the check-in counter with our three bags, all of which were within weight requirements. As the flight assistant proceeded to put together our seating assignments, she got a puzzled look on her face and then called someone and then announced that our ParisDetroit flight had been cancelled! – a decision made by Air France in February.

The Air France agent looked for alternatives, but all of them involved indirect routes and more time in the air and on the ground. She called her supervisor and he and she offered their apologies and promised to get it all together for us to leave on Wednesday. In the meantime, since Air France had not notified us of the change, the agent offered us a night at a luxury hotel near the airport. After a few hours of very attentive service, one can easily see the reason not everyone chooses “sleep cheap” lodging…

The flights on Wednesday were uneventful and Air France continues to maintain its reputation of serving good food on flights. We collected our bags, went through customs and got the MI Flyer to East Lansing where our friend Brian met us.

More important than uneventful flights or luxury hotels, our re-entry was softened by the actions of our neighbors. When we got home, we learned that the neighbors had planned a “Welcome home!” party which they had to move from Tuesday evening to Thursday evening because of our flight schedule changes.

Last evening, the neighbors arrived bearing food and wine and new babies and we spent several hours reconnecting with the very wonderful people who comprise our section of the Westside. Not only do we have the good fortune of living in a close and supportive environment of neighbors, the residents of the neighborhood have more of a world view than one usually attributes to Midwest America. They actually could find France on a map and are conversant on world politics. (On the other hand, our local newspaper did not include any stories on the elections in England on the day of the elections. There was a one-paragraph report the morning after voting.)

In Provence and in Midwest America, friends and friendships make all of the difference.