The Fatal Text

The Year of Travel Disasters, Part 1

The text came through at 5 a.m. Spanish time, just before we were due to get up to head to the airport. At first I thought it must be from a friend of ours who lived in Boston and sometimes texted us lyrics from nightclubs. But it turned out to be far less welcome than that.

DATE: 15.04.10
TIME: 03:50:46
TYPE: received/read
STATUS: received SMS
NAME: easyJet
Your easyJet flight on 15th April 2010 is cancelled due to volcanic ash in the atmosphere. Please check and your email for further details.

Our five-day trip to Spain to visit some friends in a family holiday home was about to get much longer, much more expensive, and much more eventful.

I’ve been meaning to write about it ever since, but the Eyjafjallajökull eruption came at the start of a relentless march of Events, compounded by a relentless march of Work, which together resulted in an eventless Blog. I did write about it at the time, though, in a string of emails to my family. Looking back over them, they’re as effective an account as any. So over the next few days I’m going to post those emails, some SMSs, and two photo galleries from that fortnight in April 2010 (names of friends will be initialized throughout to spare them from the harsh spotlight of fame). It’s the biggest travel disruption I’ve ever experienced, and it’s had some competition before and since, so it deserves more than a 22-month-old promise to write about it someday.

19 February 2012 · Travel