From Chaos to Calmness

It’s been one week since I left home to come back to Abu Dhabi after having my cast removed. The past 6 days have been more intense than the whole year! I’ve visited more Doctors than I did since I can remember, almost sliced my left ring finger off while chopping a zucchini and ended up getting it stitched back!

My brain revolutions are 1000 per minute, its a mix of feelings, thoughts, fears and stress of not being able to work yet and trying to resolve my post ankle care all alone in a country that is not my own.  Luckily, I have friends who care for me and even though they’re not always around, a simple text or visit reassures me. I thank the universe for them! ♥

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Now I have learnt that things happen to us when we least expect it.  Maybe this break  (1 month and 15 days so far) was what my body needed. I was telling my friend that even my hearing improved! I can hear sharper not like when I’m constantly flying. Body is rested and even though my mind is not. I’m trying to control it!

Accidents can happen to anyone but in my case, I’ve always played the strong character so I can’t understand it! I have A LOT OF FREE TIME and do not know how to use it, my finances are on hold because I’m not receiving an income BUT deep down inside, my mind tells me I’ll be ok. This is just a lesson to learn, maybe I’m closing chapters and better things are on the way!

 

What is it with flying?

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Photo credit by Me en route to Tbilisi, Georgia.

I just arrived in Abu Dhabi after being home for 1 month due to a broken ankle. It took me 2 flights to get here (San Jose-Paris 10hrs) and (Paris-Abu Dhabi 6.35hrs). I am jet lagged, with a swollen ankle and off course, missing my family.

This slight sadness while being on the other side of the world, makes me think WHY AM I DOING THIS? It’s not like I am going to fly forever! Especially knowing that this job is not a lifetime career here.  On October 1st, I turned 31 and we have all heard that Middle Eastern airlines are known for the early 20’s crew.  Now that I’ve got my flying license suspended until my foot gets better. I’ll have plenty of time to think about my life and try to think what my future step will be!

While I was flying back from home, I took Air France and as crew, you can’t avoid but compare the service between cabin crew of other airlines. That particular crew had a median age of around 45 years old and they all looked so calm, poised, polite but with a don’t mess with me look. They do have this job for a lifetime, no age restrictions or exhausting schedules. Plus, passengers don’t get all complicated with them because they know that they simply can’t!

Us on the other side, are supposed to be bubbly, excited to serve and always looking pretty. It is extremely demanding and tiring sometimes! If I had only 4/5 flights a month or so, off course I could do this for a VERY LONG TIME! Instead, I feel my body is getting drained quickly. This past month, I was able to sleep deeply and without interruptions. Going to bed around 21:30 and waking up without an alarm at 6:30/7am and just having a “normal” life.

Now that I’m back in UAE, the first night was terrible. Off course I passed out at 16hrs, woke up at 21:30 and couldn’t manage to close my eyes until 06:35am! Yes its jet lag but also the stress of not knowing when I am going back to work and if I’ll feel comfortable after being on ground for a while…

Relationships & the Sky ❤️

Are you married, do you have a boyfriend? 

 

We fly with different people every day. Before each flight, we have to attend a  briefing where we introduce ourselves, where we come from, how long we’ve worked in the company and our position for the flight.

Once in flight and if we have some free time, we start finding topics to break the ice and off course what’s more interesting than our personal lives! In that moment it’s like we’ve known each other forever. It is so easy to open up and talk about our relationships. Maybe because we all left our families, we find comfort in other crew and we start talking about life.

Let’s say that in my case, I have quite the story. I had a relationship of almost 4 years and we were engaged. Then I decided to break up. Whenever I share my story with other people, they think he cheated on me or was not a good person. I laugh because it’s completely different.

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I got bored, nothing else. It just wasn’t there anymore. Since my job is so versatile and I’m always on the move, the routine scared me. I could not picture myself in a forever situation yet. After the breakup, I decided to wear a ring for work just because I could not be bothered anymore, I like my space.

It is nice to have someone to be with when you are off work, whom you can talk to about your work issues and de-stress at the same time. However, I think all the possible “Prince Charming” that I have met so far, do not know how to handle me.

I don’t overdo feelings, I like to spend time together but when I need my space, I mean it. Men in Arabic countries can be complex but thanks to them, I have learned a lot about dating outside of my culture.

I am attracted to the manly macho type. Arabic prospects catch my eye and I catch theirs too. They’re charming, smell good, look good and have a witty personality. If you date one, it starts amazing. Time passes by and things might change, its up to each other how to handle it. They can loose focus quite fast though.

I don’t blame them at all! They have so many options in one small city that they might start multitasking between girls.  These last few years, in my experiences it’s just ended due to natural causes and boredom again.

Still I’m happy being alone and enjoying casual dating. When the right time will come, I will know it and find my “Aladdin with a flying carpet” 😝.

Oh I’ve always wanted to be a Flight Attendant! 🌎

I hear this line quite often from people when they ask me what I do for a living… 

The thing is, it’s not always as amazing as it sounds! Don’t get me wrong here, in my 6+ years of flying, I’ve seen and heard quite a lot of things that make me think, “Yes it’s an exciting job but it’s not forever!”

Quite surely I can say that it’s not a career in the Middle East Airlines. I started when I was 23 and now I am 31 and I feel the difference! We usually work 12 to 14 hour duties from sign in, have multiple flights a week with only 11 hours legal rest in between. Yes sometimes we get 5 days off in a row but in my case, as I fly mostly the 320, I’m constantly living in my uniform and it started to mentally and physically drain me.

My usual routes are India, Pakistan, Africa and the Gulf Countries. Sometimes I try to be positive and say well I get to sleep in my own bed tonight but then, when I get back home at 2am and know that my next duty starts at 14:00hrs, it makes me think is it worth it?

My body is having more of hard time adjusting to my busy schedules which involve Late night Turnarounds and 4 sectors a day most of the time. Yes we look pretty and are smiling to the guests, but they don’t really know how we feel on the inside and they shouldn’t as we chose to do this on our own. However, as an advice be nice to us when your getting on the plane! If we greet you, just say hi back!

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This is my lucky charm Minion Captain in the Flight Deck!

It is a constantly demanding job. You have to please everyone even if they’re shouting at you because they didn’t get their meal preference or the person in front of them reclined their seat. We have many duties to fulfill in just 1 flight. We secure the cabin, serve meals, collect the trash, attend to First Aid cases, sell duty free, do walk arounds, clean the toilets and Oh boy, that’s fun! (Yes that’s sarcasm talking). Whenever we are about to sit to eat after running around like headless chickens, there’s something that comes up and there you go to attend that call bell that is only for you to pick up leftover trash.

Being a HUB, the area where I work is mostly for connections. We deal with people from different cultures, manners and beliefs. It is hard to please them all! I remember once, I cried because I felt so insulted by someone that I couldn’t take it anymore. Yet we wipe the tears off and come out with a smile.

Do I regret leaving what could’ve been my long term job as a Journalist to travel the world? Absolutely not! But now I’m in the middle of a 30’s life uncertainty. What will I do next?

Eight years living between Doha and now the UAE started to feel like its time for me to move on. Being alone and so far away from family makes you think a lot about it!

If there’s anyone out there who’s been flying and decided to leave the job for good, share your insights with me! Advices from fellow colleagues are always welcomed!

Ready, Set, Go! Training starts

After 2 days of relaxation and getting mentally prepared for the following weeks there I was, sitting at the first day of training.  I can still remember the faces of the other 15 girls who like me, felt fear and excitement at the same time for what was yet to come.

Amazed at how diverse our group was, I was eager to know where they were all from. One by one we stood up and introduced ourselves. We were coming from South Africa, India, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, The Philippines, Slovenia, France, Rumania, Lithuania and finally Mexico and Costa Rica. Our Service trainer was from The Philippines and the Safety one was from India. They were both ladies, perfectly groomed but with a serious yet charming flight attendant personality.

We were told our batch would be named AB 629 and all our classes were going to be from 7:30 am until 2pm.

After the introduction, the trainers started mentioning the drill of the following 7 weeks: They strictly mentioned that tardiness was not going to be tolerated, we would have breaks between 15 to 20 minutes and a lunch break of 40 minutes.

If we fell sick, we would have to go to the Airline’s medical center to be evaluated. Under no circumstances were we able to go out past 10pm during Initial training. Even during the weekends which we had off.

We were bound to read, study and learn the Manuals by heart. If we failed the oral or practical exams we would not graduate and would be sent back home.       Training days were absolutely intense! Countless nights of reciting word after word the evacuation drills, drawing maps about all the aircrafts we were about to fly. They were Airbus 320, 321, 330-200/300, 340 and Boeing 777-200 and 300. For someone like me who never knew anything about aircrafts it was perfect panic…

Looking back at how this airline trains their crew, I must say hats off! One of the best trainings I have ever got! I still remember some things. Those days of crying during practicals paid off. They made the training in my current airline way easier!

 

Goodbye West, Hello Middle East!

There I was, after 2 months of sending papers back and forth, waiting for the Airline to send me notifications of my DOJ ( Date of Joining) and a serious case of jitters. I finally received a One-Way Ticket that will let me embark on 20hrs of traveling via Houston to my final destination Doha, Qatar.

I remember the time I landed into Doha and stepped out of that enormous metal bird, which I know identify as a Boeing 777-300. I was wearing reading glasses which I used to watch movies, the humidity suddenly covered my lenses and I was unable to see for a few seconds. The air was so sticky that I felt it right in my lungs.

Once at the arrivals, there was a lady with a board filled with names. I quickly identified mine and joined the group. We were about 10 girls, some of us had a farther journey than others. We looked like a committee from the United Nations, so diverse…

We got our suitcases, a welcome bonus and a paper that stated our new flat mates. To my surprise, mine was from Mexico so I quickly felt calm since I wouldn’t have to struggle in getting along with her.

We reached our compound. It’s name was “My City” it was a girls only accommodation. Six buildings, a common gym and a roofed pool (unfortunately). Our apartment was 2 bedroom with 1 and a half bathrooms, a medium sized living room and a small kitchen. Yes we had to share the shower, it sounds crazy but we managed.

Everything was brand new, we got cutlery, plates, glasses, towels, sheets & pillows. Later on we just customized the rooms according to our taste. One thing I must say is, don’t go wild with the decoration and other things, because when it’s time to leave, you’ll end up with a bunch of unnecessary things! LESS is definitely MORE!

It was time to decompress from that 16.5 hour trip and relax. Looking out through my window all I could see was sand, a few not maintained buildings and at far the majestic area of West Bay, where all the fancy buildings of Doha are. At that moment  lots of thoughts crossed my mind, what if I don’t like it here?, how will I survive being so far?, I don’t know anyone, Will I feel lonely?…

There I was a girl from Central America, who was about to spend her first night of many in an Arabic Country.