Featured writer: Laura Bennet
I don’t sleep well on planes.
In a comfy bed under ideal conditions, I do fine, but put me in any other setting and I am a retelling of the princess and the pea fairy tale. I mean, I come prepared: neck pillow, CD player with headphones, chamomile tea (my hyper-sensitive body’s relaxing drug of choice), fluffy warm socks, loose fitting clothes, nose spray, eye drops, lip balm, moisturizer, water by the quart and plenty of reading material of various types. Prepared, right?
And naturally, the back of the plane by the toilets, presents the most ideal flying arrangement possible. That is a must, and gratefully where my small group was positioned on my trip to Greece.
I might take this moment to comment on me as a traveler in general. I’m not a good one. Really, I never thought of myself as one who “likes to travel.” Unlike some of my friends, I never dreamt of going off to much of anywhere for a couple of reasons.
One, there are only a few places I ever wanted to see; and two, my body literally is so sensitive to my surroundings and changes in them that I don’t feel well with lack of sleep, elevation changes, air pressure, cramped quarters and the constant drone of the airplane engines mingled with air conditioning fans blowing.
I swear I’m not a wimp or a whiner! I’m not afraid to fly; I don’t get motion sickness, and I love to see new sights. I simply don’t like what it takes to get somewhere to see them.
Therefore, when an invitation was extended for me to venture forth on a mission trip to Greece, I really contemplated whether or not I could actually handle it. I had only traveled once to England at the age of sixteen with a group of classmates to tour theatres. The excitement of that set up would make even the worst of travelers forget their concerns (though I do remember suffering terrible jet lag upon return).
Even though the prospect of visiting Greece thrilled me (okay, confession…new foods frighten me a bit too), the idea of getting there daunted me. But, I said yes and prayed that I would learn to like tomatoes by the time I arrived. Thank goodness I love olives.
On the way to Greece, I ended up with a vicious sinus headache (see…that dry air/cabin pressure thing!) which turned into an excruciating migraine. I tried desperately, yet ineffectively to sleep it off in the Heathrow airport. My body packed into two unyielding chairs, half of me in one, half falling off the other with a sweater shielding my sensitive-to-light eyes.
As a result of the ever-growing pain in my head and face, I vomited, non-stop from London to Munich clinging to the metal commode crammed in a minuscule airplane toilet. The possibility that a line of people gathered outside wondering what I could possibly be doing in so small a space for such a ridiculous length of time tortured me.
When I dragged myself off the plane, I did so with dread because we still weren’t there yet! I could hardly abide boarding the last plane from Munich to Greece. But, tried to do so with a smile and a good attitude; after all this was a mission trip!
I sank wearily into my seat, head still pounding, hopeful that the other two seats would remain empty so that I could sleep for the remaining hours of our journey. Just when I anticipated my unspoken prayer coming true, a young man slid into the seat next to me with a laugh and comment of relief that he had just made the flight in time for takeoff. I gave him a shaky smile.
But you know what? Somehow God infused me with something that made me able to converse with this stranger who had umpteen questions about the creator of the universe and how I happened to know him. Miraculously, the pain in my head subsided as I answered questions with words I never remembered speaking, and when we landed I felt revived with energy to spare.
I had the privilege (along with three other women) of speaking about my life to a group of women at a conference; that was the highlight of my trip to Greece. But I also walked the ancient streets of Corinth where visitors can hear the bath waters still flowing and imagine debates taking place in the center square.
In Athens, we hiked up the ruin littered hill toward the Acropolis to view the Parthenon. The enormous marble blocks (about two feet long by one foot wide and deep) shaped like Legos™ amazed me! I wondered if they had inspired the current plastic toys my sons spent hours over. (Not Sure. According to their website, Legos™ originated in Denmark and the name was derived from two Danish words that mean “play well.” The Latin word means “I put together.”) Ships coming in and out of the distant harbor could be heard sounding their horns every few minutes.
The busy streets, corner gyros shop (where we ate a few times) and shopping in downtown Athens highlighted the best part of the trip—the relationships we made with the people. I think of them often with fondness and prayers.
Visiting Greece wasn’t on my bucket list, but returning there someday with my husband is now.
love the way you write!
Thanks for reading Ana! I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂
Thank you, Yvonne!
Such a wonderful blog! I just love Greece!
Thank you so much, Katt! I really loved Greece and look forward to seeing more of it some day. The food, the language, the history and mostly the people are implanted in my heart! What were your experiences there?
Keep pursuing your dreams, my friend! I’m proud of you!
Thank you my dear friend. Sometimes I think about when I first met you and thought “I want to live like she does!” You inspire me, Janie! Praying for your dreams too 🙂
Great story, Laura!