I know. I know. It has been far too long since the last post.
I spent most of the last week trying to figure out......"Am I tired/hungry/delirious? What time/day is it right now?" Luckily, I have found my way out of the Ambien induced jet lag recovery plan I was on, just in time to start training again. (We have 38 days left till the Games start!!!! Back to work for us!) So my schedule has been quite messed up, leaving little time for downloading photos and blogging. Bad Petri. That will change now.
Here is a story from our trip home.....
We began our journey last Monday. 3:45 am Athens time.
Alarm went off. I thought it was a joke. Nope. Eyes still half closed we dragged our bags downstairs to the lobby to meet the team. We had stayed in the hotel across the street from the airport to make it easier to make our 6am flight. More dragging of bags and we were across the street and checking in. If you have ever been in a line in Europe you know that, well, lines do not exist in Europe. It is more of a crowd up to the front in a huge mass to see who can squeeze in first type of thing. Here is where traveling in a pack of 18 comes in handy. Begin a "line" while the rest of the people set picks and block the random people trying to cut in front of you. Throw a few dirty looks. Continue until your whole party has made it to the front. Doing that while sleepy is always entertaining. All checked in we had time to grab some juice, get through security and board. Now I thought that at that insane hour of morning I would sleep like a baby from Athens to Frankfurt. NOPE! Awake and becoming very delirious. I sat next to teammate Alison Gregorka who was just as loopy as I was. We found a few free postcards in the back of the plane and decided to write to people at home. I know you wish YOU had gotten one.....it would have brought tears of pure joy to your eyes....maybe.....but at the time we thought they were hilarious. Must have been the altitude, right? Who knows. Arriving in Frankfurt we realized that we had been awake for 8 hours and had not eaten enough. That for an athlete spells disaster so we headed for the nearest place selling food. Slightly disheveled, puffy eyed, matching bags and all we settled into some seats next to a cafe. Next we all pillaged our stuff for as many Euros we could find. You never like getting home with a dollar left. Can't use it at home and that amount is never worth the hassle of exchanging. The drill: Go purchase as much stuff as you can and then bring back the change. Deposit it on the table for re-evaluation. We had been through Round One. Coffee, pastries and sandwiches ingested, blood sugar rose and so did our voices. We were laughing and chatting away when we were interrupted by a man in line at the cafe. He asked us if we needed any money? Holding out a 20 Euro note. Us? Huh? We all looked around at each other trying to see ourselves as he did. Were we looking particularly skinny? Or in need? All at the same time our eyes fell on the small table we were surrounding. Jessica had been counting out our remaining change. Separating it into dollar amounts, to be used in Round Two, for spare water bottles or further snacks. It looked as if we were starving student travelers scraping together our last pennies to make it to the next destination. OOOPPS!!!! No, no, no we gushed. The offer was much appreciated but we explained that we were just trying to use up our last Euros before getting back to America. He smiled and continued on in line. About 5 minutes later he stopped by and laid about $20 in loose change and small bills on the table! He told us that he too was going to America, he would not be able to use all that money and that we should use it to get more snacks. We thanked him profusely and got in line for more snacks. (We can always eat more) Not before Jessica ran after him with a USA Water Polo pin for him to remember us by and another "thank you". As we ate the new pile of snacks we all commented on how incredibly giving some strangers can be. He did not know who we were, or of what nationality, or that we were a team when he offered to help us. That kind of blind generosity is rare. And when you are the recipient of that love it makes you feel special and hopeful. Happily full and lost in thoughts of appreciation, we looked up and there was our stranger again! Only this time he was pulling American money from his wallet. Saying he was proud of us and wanted to make a donation to our team. Oh my! Most people's mouths were hanging open. Dumbfounded. Again we thanked him but we could not accept this kind of money! We urged him to make a donation on the USA Water Polo website. He laughed and said he rarely used the computer. He told us he was a soldier coming from the Middle East. We told him his kindness and support was more than enough!!!! After many more thank-you's we all watched his back as he wandered off into the airport to find his gate.
At that point we still had a good 20 hours of travel to go and yet that man rejuvenated us all. I think now about how there are so few words to express to the people we love and the people we do not even know, how much their support means to us. We could not do what we do every day without them.
So one more time. THANK YOU!