Etihad Airways Flight 140: Toronto to Abu Dhabi, seat 53A

May 25, 2012 in Asia, Canada, North America, Thailand, Travelogue

The view from 37,000 feet is wide and we’re flying over an ocean of sand.

The lines that mark the porous sandstone, carved from countless years of erosion by water and wind look like modern art on a textured canvas from where I sit. Miles of every nuanced shade of brown dotted occasionally by little grey clusters of homes evidence of life in even the harshest environments. We passed over a lake the shade of blood from the sky. This is Iran. Soon we’ll be over the gulf and in one short hour we’ll walk off of the plane into another world, at least to our eyes.

Flying is, at once, a miracle and a curse.

A miracle because the world has now shrunk to the size of a marble. It rolls in my hand and I can switch hemispheres in a day. A curse because it feels like cheating. There was a time when the journey to Bangkok meant something. It was an accomplishment. It had to be earned. Now, to quote my Dad, “Everyone goes everywhere.” We should be crossing Iran in the back of a truck, or on an over crowded bus where we could taste the sand and get it stuck between our toes, not floating above it in an air conditioned miracle machine.

According to my digital display  We’ve been in the air 11 hours and 40 minutes thus far. Only forty minutes more to Abu Dhabi. We’ve traveled 6847 miles so far over northern Canada, the tip of Greenland, Iceland, Sweden and Denmark, Russia, Ukraine and millions of sleeping people of every sort until now, with Iran passing away below us. All of a sudden there are clouds again, which I take to be a sign that the gulf is approaching.

So far, so good. We made the flight without drama. The plane took off on time but not before an Islamic prayer for safe journeys was recited. We have all slept several hours.The children have gorged themselves on media: unlimited movies and games the whole way across. Tony traded seats with Ezra about two hours ago, when the boy began to melt down from lack of sleep, the closed space and losing his ipod somewhere in his seat. I fed him some curry and a Kit Kat bar. He’s recovered enough to play a racing game now and just asked if we’d “get to” take another plane today and was happy to hear that we would. I stepped over a prayer mat on my way to the washroom a while ago. How anyone can keep track of what the proper hours for prayer are across so many time zones is a mystery to me. I’m glad I brought my tights and my socks; as usual, I’ve been chilly.

I took a picture for you, of Iran, if the airport in Abu Dhabi lives up to it’s reputation I’ll be able to post this from there…

For those of you prone to worry, we’re all doing just fine.

P.S. Georgia, Cate & other friends in Australia who are threatening to come see us, I found this site: that has great airfare deals… hint, hint!