Back before you know it
It's not often you get to say "So this week I went to China for four days". I was told a few weeks ago that the trip was canceled, and then all of the sudden last Friday, they were like "Actually, can you leave on Sunday?". All of this mega travel must have really changed me, because instead of freaking out about having to literally go to the other side of the world in two days, I just sighed and said "Let me check out some flights".
I ended up finding an excellently priced ticket on Finnair, an airline that I used to fly all the time when we would go visit our family in Finland, but it's been probably 20 years since the last time I used them. I wasn't super excited about having a connecting flight, since I've got a pretty good routine going on those 12h flights now that helps me avoid jet lag, but I was looking forward to picking up a few Finnish items for my family there.
It was actually really enjoyable to fly Finnair - I loved the blueberry juice they served and the Marimekko blankets and pillows. The flight attendants were super nice, and extremely patient with my attempts to speak to them in Finnish. It actually ended up making me feel really nostalgic for my Finnish-speaking days, and I loved letting the conversations of fellow passengers roll over me. For some reason, my last trip to Finland didn't jog my memory as much, but this time, I had memories and Finnish words popping up left and right. I understood much of what was said, and was able to order my food and have brief conversations, and it was lovely.
It made up for the rather difficult trip to China - I spent a LOT of time speeding down terrible roads in cars with no seat belts. This actually represents a sort of moral issue for me. My father passed away in a car accident because he was not wearing his seat belt. It was all a big mystery to us because he always wore a seat belt, and always insisted that we do as well. So why not that day? Needless to say, buckling up in a car is kind of a big deal to me, and I'm pretty principled about it, ie I won't let someone ride with me if they don't strap in. But what do you do when there is no other option? Taxis didn't have them, most of our customer's vehicles didn't have them, and I couldn't exactly refuse to get in when we had a three hour drive in front of us... It all left me feeling vaguely uncomfortable and ill at ease.
The food was also difficult this time around. One lunch consisted of boiled cow stomach, larynx and spine. I'm all for trying new foods at least once, but I must admit that organs are the most difficult for me to swallow, both literally and figuratively. There were no other options, and I didn't want to be rude, so I just had to suck it up, even though the sight of them was making me gag. I tried to psyche myself up like I did in Japan when I had to it raw egg over cold rice by saying "Look, they eat this stuff all the time. They must know how to cook it to make it tasty, or they wouldn't eat it". Boy was I wrong - it must be one of those acquired taste things. The stomach was like rubber and I could feel every single one of the villi as I chewed. And chewed and chewed. The larynx was even worse. And I could barely swallow the fatty/cartilageous spine. I'm telling you, it was rough, and I'm getting a bit green just thinking about it again.
Luckily not all of the meals were that bad, but those were a long four days, and I sure am happy to be back home in Paris, strikes and all. Summer appears to be in full swing at last, and we've got an action-packed ten days before we take off to the US.