Writing prompts don’t come much better than volcano week
There’s the girl who was at the end of a three-month trip from Australia and couldn’t get her flight home. She’d run out of money when a complete stranger offered her a flat to stay in – which belonged to his parents, who were stranded on the other side of the world in Argentina. There’s the DJ who flew to an oil rig for one evening to do a gig and five days later was still stuck there. There’s the couple who should have been in Las Vegas getting married and had now decided to improvise a wedding in London.
Then there are the people I know personally. Tim, who went to Helsinki on business and has been tweeting his progress as he tries to return home overland. Ian, who drove his French guest to a midnight rendezvous with a long-distance lorry driver on the farthest reaches of the M25, so that she could ride back home.
A puff of volcanic ash has generated millions of adventures, aside from the effects on those in its immediate vicinity. Anyone who was not in their own country has been forced to beg, steal, borrow, make alliances with strangers, find ways to endure mind-numbing journeys that go on for days – and improvise. The week the planes stood still. It’s like a disaster movie, only with less disaster.
The third week of April 2010 is unlikely to go down in history as travellers’ favourite time. But in years to come, it will definitely be a favourite for storytellers.
What’s your favourite story of stranded travellers?