A rough start filled with chance encounters that remind me what kind of person I aspire to be. It hasn't been an easy trip so far. Of course there was a pair of babies 1 row and 2 seats away that did not seem to sleep at all for the entirety of the flight from LA to Sydney... or course there was a group of high schoolers studying abroad that gave no second thought to slamming the overhead compartments closed after stuffing it to the brim even with an instrument and camera gear sharing the space (extremely glad I bought a great uke case for the trip, will write about that a bit later). This goes a bit further... We'll start from the top...
After a drive from Eugene to Portland, a flight from Portland to LA, my flight from LA to Sydney was held up for almost 3 hours. Apparently the handle for the cargo hold fell off as we were getting ready to take off. That is all the information we were given and one can only assume that a fix is more complicated that replacing the handle with a spare one. Because of the delay, I missed my flight to Cairns from Sydney and ended up stuck for a few hours in customs trying to find my luggage. I had flown Qantas from LA to Sydney and was supposed to have transferred to a flight from JetStar to Cairns. Apparently Qantas and JetStar don't play nice together (as I was reminded numerous times by employees from both companies). I was sent through the Customs line twice, checked two separate areas of baggage claims and still could not find my bag. The whole ordeal wasn't all bad... Staff members from both Qantas and the airport security helped me get around long lines of security and customs the second time as well as escorting me around straight to the ticketing area to figure out my next flight. It was genuine kindness that drove these people to help. They could have just pointed me in the right direction but took it upon themselves to make sure I was taken care of. Some of the staff escorted me all the way through Customs the second time to make sure I had no other issues to worry about. They definitely made a difficult experience bearable.
From there I had to take a couple extra flights to finally arrive in Cairns.
Due to the extra flights I was able to meet an up and coming artist from Portland, a Ukulele Underground member studying abroad for the summer, a family from Samoa, a couple that just learned the joys of the ukulele and a couple of rugby players who were interested in learning the ukulele but didn't know where to start. The whole ordeal has been a blessing in disguise. I spent the night BBQ-ing and playing music with my lovely host family the Walkers and couldn't be happier. Though I can only hope in the morning I'll get a phone call from the airlines with good news about finding my luggage filled with the rest of my camera gear, CDs, uke gear and clothes. Fingers are crossed :)