David Harwood here, sitting at home, for my final update here for the sake of completeness. I'm not sure how many people will read this, but I might as well update anyway.
On Thursday, most of the team went to visit the Green Mosque. I can't tell you much about it since I didn't actually go. I was completely out of clean clothes, so I ended up staying behind to do laundry. Not a great situation to be in, but it had to be done. Philip also stayed behind due to the infection in his ankle. Once everyone came back, there was some sitting around, then everyone was called into the salon. The reason? To celebrate Ben's birthday! There was cake and conversation, since we had already given him presents earlier in the day. There was more sitting around after we ran out of cake, until it was time to leave for Osmangazi.
This is where things began to get weird. Our driver apparently did not understand where it was we wanted to go. So he began driving, and we began doing whatever it was we were doing in the back (something memorable, apparently). After about 45 minutes, we noticed that something wasn't right. The ride would normally take about 20 to 30 minutes. Not only that, it looked almost like we were going the wrong direction, like we were headed toward Iznik... As I'm sure you can guess, we got to the closing ceremonies at Osmangazi a little late. Fortunately, I was wrong in my assumption that we had to do a skit, so we just sat in the back and watched, sometimes with campers coming up and asking us to sign their shirts.
We got back very early Friday morning, and most just collapsed into bed. That made the next morning very rushed though, since we were leaving at about 6 in the morning to go to Istanbul, a four hour drive away. That left very little time for sleeping, what with having to shower, finish packing, get laundry off the line, load up the van, etc. We left with minimum trouble after everything was packed. The drive into Istanbul was uneventful. We stopped at a small cafe to get something to drink. There was a stop for lunch.
Eventually, we ended up at the Blue Mosque. Mary left to get Bob from the airport, so the rest of us walked over to the nearby Grand Bazaar. It was actually a very nice place, despite being choked with tourists there buying souvenirs and sellers with items marked up 100%. The inside was just a nice place to be, and had all sorts of small shops selling all manner of things. After all the wandering and buying, we went down to get food at a very small cafe that was very near the Blue Mosque. There was a trip to a small park, then it was time to meet the vans. We met up with Leight, Mary, and Bob, then all of us went back to the Blue Mosque, and went inside.
For those wondering, I don't think I can really describe what it looked like inside. There were many pictures taken, so you could probably get a better idea of what it looked like inside from pictures. We gathered outside in the courtyard that we had wandered through on the first day we arrived in Turkey (seems like so long ago), the made our way over to another cafe. This time, it was to see a Whirling Dervish (not how it's spelled, but this is an American keyboard) and listen to music. We did a good deal of that, as well as eating, then it was onto the vans for the final time.
We were dropped off outside the terminal at the Ataturk International Airport. We unloaded everything that would be going back home with us, and said our goodbyes to the Turks who were with us, as well as to the people staying behind for another two weeks (that would be Jacob Reynolds, Andy, and Nils, since there wasn't room on the flight home for Rachel, Nikki, and Luke). We made sure that everyine had everything, and went through the first wave of security to get into th airport. Then we sat down to wait. This however, was at about midnight, and the check-in for our flight didn't begin until 8:30 in the morning. So people wandered, got food, did a last bit of shopping, and evetually fell asleep.
Morning found us frantically getting everything together for check in, making sure everything was sealed, organizing things, and figuring out an order for check-in. We got everything taken care of, went through passport control, then sat down to wait some more. Mr. Rye and his family showed up and joined us in sitting around. There were some food runs before we left, but it wasn't long after we started waiting that we found that the flight was delayed, so we waited some more.
After all the waiting was done, we went to the lounge and boarded the plane. We were scattered throughout the plane, but it was mostly just another normal plane ride. Getting through New York was fun, though. Since the plane was delayed by about two hours we were rushed for time. It didn't help that it took a long time for the tubs that we had to pick up and recheck to get into the convayer belt. From there, it was mass stacking and running to try to get to the terminal. I can distinctly remember pulling my cart to a stop in front of the JetBlue check-in counter with 30 minutes left to departure, and hearing with horror that we now had to open all the tubs so that they could be checked before loading. We were handed a pair of scissors to cut the zip ties, and told to get to it.
And get to it we did. Once all the needed zip ties were cut, Mr. Rye told us to go to the gate to make sure we got on the airplane. He would wait with the tubs. So all of us students were flat-out running to get to the gate, wishing security would go faster, and nervously checking watches and clocks every 30 seconds to see how much time we had left. We made it in time, and were standing in line when Kjerstin came up. Apparently, she had missed her flight home (which was different than ours), so she ended up getting her father's seat. We still weren't sure about Mr. Rye, though. Eventually, we heard that the flight was full, and Mr. Rye would be staying in New York that night.
So it was that we were seated without our fearless leader for our final flight of the trip. The flight back was nice, if uneventful overall. We got into Sea-Tac, made sure everyone was there, then walked out to meet parents. There was much hugging and welcoming back, then we all headed down to baggage claim to get our tubs. After some worrying over whether tubs got through, they finally came down the belt, where they were quickly retrieved. However, there were still five tubs missing. Ben, Rachel, and I stayed to last and talked to a JetBlue rep, who said the tubs would most likely be coming on the next flight, which would be at 12:10 the next day.
So it was that another trip down to Sea-Tac was made to collect tubs. I grabbed them all, and delivered a couple on the way back home.
And that's that. We haven't heard from Mr. Rye yet, but I would think he's on the flight home by now, assuming he hasn't already arrived and just collapsed into bed. Regardless, this is my last post on the LiveJournal. Hopefully, someone still in Turkey will post a little to say how they've been. There might be a couple other things posted, as well. My job, however, is done. Thank you to everyone who read this, thank you to Nikki and Andy for their posts, and thank you to my teammates. I hope eveyone enjoyed reading what I had to write.
Until we meet again!