On Wednesday morning I got up feeling nervous; I was dreading everything to do with my flight back to London. I am not a good flyer, it is truly my Achilles Heel. My anxiety was made acutely worse by the experience flying from Stansted to Palermo the week before. During the flight I didn’t breathe for two minutes (which actually felt nearer to a week.) My eight-year-old daughter Elizabeth, Chef Carmelo and myself flew together. We boarded the plane and everything was fine, but after only two minutes the pilot came on the intercom to tell us that the air-conditioning was not working, but it would work once we were in in the air. The humidity was really extreme, and the sweat was just pouring off us all. I felt like my choice of the cheapest, most-crammed-in airline wasn't my best decision ever. Finally, we started to move, and then we stopped as we got to the runway. Again the pilot's voice (at least he wasn't on strike) came over the intercom, and he apologised, and said there is a storm outside, it is currently too dangerous to take off (!) and we would have to wait until it settled a little (a little?!).
That was just too much for me, and many of the other passengers, as we all searched for our comforts. My GP knows I am the Panic Queen in an aircraft, so he gives me a few Diazepam for emergencies. With a group anxiety vibe filling the cabin, I took one, trying not to let either of my companions notice. I have a reputation as strong business woman to maintain, after all. However, right now the anxiety really started kicking in. Another desperately slow twenty minutes ticked by, then once again the pilot spoke to us, saying sorry, and we would need to wait another 20 minutes. Gradually my Diazepam started to kick in. I’m felt less anxious. We finally took off after one hour of waiting. I held Elizabeth’s hand and enjoyed the look of excitement on her face. She stared back, met with an enormous clenched grin as fake as Donald Trump's hair. Fortunately she couldn't tell.
Not long after reaching our cruising height, I could feel some turbulence, and after only a few minutes it grew far stronger. As we approached the clouds, my clenched smile changed to a Panicked rictus. This was not the normal turbulence I had ever experienced before. Believe me, if you are a frightened flyer, every bump, bounce, fall and sway is etched on your mind from every flight, ever. This was far far worse. We seemed to fall, then fall, then fall, like the world's worst version of Disney's Tower of Terror. By now I was indeed, absolutely terrified. I really thought my time was up. People started screaming and my poor daughter started to become scared too. I looked up to see if I could see the cabin crew, because I figure when I see them and they’re smiling, I know I’m overthinking and panicking. Naturally, there were none to be seen. Now I knew there was something definitely wrong. I held my daughter and Carmelo was calming us both down. Then all of a sudden there was a silence. The only thing I could hear was a crying newborn baby that was behind us. The turbulence settled, and the aircraft started to go up again. For the rest of the flight I was a wreck, but we made it somehow. That was truly one of the longest three hours of my life. But the horrible, hot, sweaty wait on the tarmac was completely forgotten. I just kept staring at the cabin crew after that, and my hearing was filled with the sounds of a lady nearby with her prayers and rosary. My beautiful, kind daughter put her head on me and said “Mummy we’re going to be fine.”
Back to our last day, to distract myself, we spent the last few hours at the Mercato del Capo, talking to the locals, walking into bakeries and seeing how their produce was made. We tried the typical Sicilian brioche and Sicilian cannoli. We busied ourselves taking photos and little video clips of a typical day in the life of Palermo. By 1pm we were hungry and decided to go back to some more great food at Casa del Brodo dal Dottore. We had Caponata, Peperoni agrodolce, Beef palermitana and Spaghetti with clams , mussels & tenerumi leaves. Yummy!
After our lunch we headed to the airport. We arrived four hours early. This was probably not a good idea, as my anxiety started up again. We then went through passport control and waited around until boarding. We started boarding and I felt my legs buckle a bit so I took a huge dose of Diazepam. As I got on the plane and sat down, I started to feel sleepy. Ten minutes before landing I woke up. Yayyyyyyy how happy was I when we landed. Thank god I had Carmelo with us.
Elizabeth and I were so happy to see my husband, David waiting for us. I think he was more concerned than I was.
Yesterday was a day of two hundred loads of washing and food re-stocking. This is definitely the worst part of a trip. Unless you have terrible turbulence.
Keep following ChefMéd. Lots of great adventures! 🥰