Our big event of the day – and I packed ahead, so we could go straight to the airport from my 6 P flight – was a trip out to a palace on the banks of the Rhine and then a medieval cloister. The first was a real palace with hundreds of acres of Reisling grapes, and the second a classic old European compound.
Molly and Sebastian dropped me at the airport just in time to check in for my 6 pm flight, around 4 pm. I went up to an electronic kiosk inside and immediately found my flight to Vienna had been cancelled and thus I would not be able to make the connection on to Minsk. It was also then that I first realized what a fool I had been to leave behind my CC and Mobile, as I had almost no Euros left, no other way to pay for email or a phone call to Molly or to alert my handlers in Minsk that I would not be on the flight they expected.
The Lufthansa “change ticket” agent was very helpful, but things did not look good. The direct flight to Minsk the next morning would not arrive until 2:30 P and was full, anyway. They tried to route me through Prague, and through Moscow, but neither worked, and finally they got me a ticket by way of Warsaw, leaving at 6:45 A the next morning on Lufthansa and then a small airline called Belavian, which certainly did not thrill me at the time….
They put through a call to Minsk, and paid for a Ramada for the night, and I was given instructions to get to the shuttle, where I found one other guy waiting in the van, apparently bumped from the same flight cancellation. He was chatting into a cell phone. I couldn’t understand the language he was speaking, so when he finished, I asked him what it was. He replied in English that it was Norwegian, and so I asked him what he was going to be doing in Minsk. He said he would be visiting family (he turned out to be part Belarusian and part Norwegian) but that he also had some business calls to make. I asked the business and it turned out to be “compost processing machinery.” Go figure. I told him what I was doing, and also about the various machines and methods we had in the States.
When we got to the hotel (which took quite a while) I tried to get in touch with Molly via email, to let her know what happened, and as it turned out, the hotel (we couldn’t tell enroute, in the dark) was right on the outskirts of Wiesbaden, and was, in fact the same hotel that her grandparents had staid the previous summer. She got my email, called the desk and arranged to come get us…and took both me and Ivan to a really awesome restaurant on the steep side of a mountain about a castle ruins like twenty minutes away. It was a hell of a time, and a really lucky occurrence. Ivan and I have stayed in touch and (of course) I will try to lure his company into US activities based, guess where?