02 August 2004

I'm here!

I can't actually believe that I'm in the US at the moment - it's all sorta a bit weird still.

I think I most enjoyed the flight from Adelaide to Melbourne - mainly because it was the shortest. The flight from Melbourne to LAX was just plain painful. For over 14 hours I was right at the back of the plane and a Mexican dude in front of me had his seat right back which cramped my legs up. I lost count of the number of times I had to get up and walk around. I tried getting sleep on this stretch but it was just plain impossible. I chatted a lot to some Australian guys next to me who were biologists heading to Oregon. There was also an Australian girl, a vegetarian who was planning on hiking through South America. Talking to them made the time pass a little faster. I got to watch "Starsky and Hutch" and "The Girl next door" on the inflight entertainment channels, as well as a couple of documentaries. Woo hoo!

Coming to land in LAX was just weird - for the first time I actually saw with my own eyes cars driving on the other side of the road. Yeah, it's a small thing, but enough to bring in a reality check. LAX is a mess. I don't know how I did it, but somehow I was able to find my luggage and my way to the domestic terminal *and* to the gate that my flight was leaving from. I needed to call the limo service that was picking me up from the airport to tell them I was going to be late. I didn't know why the phone number I had been given wasn't working, so I asked some American guy for some help. Half way through my question he cut me off, pointed to the service desk and said, quite arrogantly, "Ask him". He didn't look at me the whole time I was talking to him. What a prick! Thank God I haven't met any other people like that. Everyone else has been really friendly.

Ok, next I had to catch a plane from LAX to Fort Lauderdale. It was here that I noticed a bit of a difference between Qantas and American Airlines. The flight attendents on Qantas are quite strict in not letting you get up while the seatbelt light is on. Not so on AA. People were getting up all the time, and the flight attendents didn't really seem to care a heck of a lot.

I arrived at Fort Lauderdale airport and proceeded to get my luggage. Actually, I was surprised it even came in the end. I was waiting there for about 45 minutes, tack onto that the flight was about 45 minutes late. I didn't see anyone walking around with my name on a card so I assumed my limo driver had gone already, or didn't even come at all. Not to worry, I caught a cab to the apartments.

Next thing to happen: my apartment number had changed. This was something I was supposed to check before I left, but I forgot to do this in the rush. There was someone else in my supposed apartment, and since I had arrived after-hours there was no-one to help me at the front desk. I had no idea what to do at this point. My phone was not working and I was looking at a bench and thinking I'd have to sleep on that! Luckily, I remembered that the US used a slightly different GSM network and that explained why my phone wasn't working. I changed my phone settings and - voila! - I was able to select from a couple of service providers. After a few phone calls I found out what my apartment number was and got to bed pretty bloody quickly.

The next day it rained and rained and rained - due in no small part to tropical storm Alex. I think nearly 2 inches of rain fell in a couple of hours. I was going to go pick up my rental car but decided against doing this for reasons of localised flooding.

Today I drove on the right-hand side of the road and successfully navigated my way to work. I'm pretty stoked about that! I also had lunch at a Thai restaurant across the road with one of the people I'm working with and I also got introduced to no less than 20 other people. I also found out how bloody huge this place is!!!

Well I'm going to have to sign off now. I'm bloody tired and I have to go buy some groceries and stuff.



Anonymous said...

Glad to read you arrived safely at the home of the free, land of the brave (or whatever it is)! :) Happy trails, watch out for those typhoons!

Anonymous said...

Hey bro, good to hear you can drive on the 'right' side without any problems. hope your having fun over there. catch ya later