In 2008, Iceland let Europe know it had helped fleece cash from, and was now defaulting on investments made by such doughty institutions as the Leeds Union of Teaching Professionals and individuals like, say, a hypothetical Frau Heirlein who probably thought she was getting in on a good thing in Icelandic derivatives almost as if it were a solid as Bernie Madoff’s twelve percent per annum. Iceland went under and all the defrauded/deluded legion demanded recompense–not sure if they got it.
In 2010 Iceland sends Europe a message about self-reliance and the value of exhaustive examination of possibilities before investment of (in this case) time spent at an airport. I am referring to the Great Icelandic Plume that has plunged Europe into a seeming Dark Age at least for travelers now stranded for many days at airports in a populous arc reaching from Shannon to Bratislava.
Forgive me for going all “American” on these folks (and there are no doubt plenty of Americans among them), but how about a little ingenuity? In a week I am pretty sure most of them could have figured out a land route to an airport not affected by the plume and somehow gotten home; or, if both ends of their route were under restriction, figured out a combination of train, boat and omnibus that would have accomplished the same.
I cite a couple of personal examples (not expecting laurels):
1) Several years ago my family and I were on our way back from Morocco to Spain and Madrid for a flight back to the States. The flight from Seville to Madrid was canceled and, so it would seem, our plans to take our scheduled flight home from the capital. Instead of sitting on a suitcase and looking like puppies had crapped in my breakfast, I decided we would somehow get to Madrid on time. Our transportation took the form of the fast train AVE, Spain’s underappreciated answer to France’s mighty TGV. A couple of phone calls and a taxi ride later, we boarded at Seville, were whisked through the Spanish countryside at great speed, and deposited within distance of another taxi ride to the big airport in Madrid. We got there earlier than the connecting flight would have arrived.
2) Several years before that I was setting foot on a ferry from Bari, Italy to Greece when the workers called a wildcat “Sciopero” (strike) and thus stranded a hundred or so hapless travelers late at night on a dock in southern Italy. One silly American student got upon a wooden crate and harangued the crowd about “our rights as Americans” and soon was bundled off in a car full of Italian policemen. I decided to sit in a cafe until early morning and then walk to the car rental shop. There, I rented a car, drove away from Bari, forgot my plans for Greece, and ended up in a wonderful ancient town called Taranto the driving in which terrified me until I gladly handed over the keys to the local Avis man down an impossibly small byway which barely was able to accommodate the tiny car I had rented.
There are other examples (for instance, if the Lexington Avenue line is crowded, just take the Seventh Avenue and walk). I don’t want to pile on.
My point is: get a grip travelers! The plane is not coming! Unless you have no access to credit (the only excuse I know of), get in gear and get home somehow. A volcano typically makes an unsatisfactory travel companion, and, this being generally known and understood, travelers can claim little excuse for the current impasse.