Houston, we have a problem


How an emergency landing in Maine kick started my new life of adventure

After a long, stressful and impatient build up that stretched over a year, it was a surreal feeling to wake up on the morning of my departure to Honduras. This was the start of the great adventure, the moment I’d been waiting for.

Since moving out of our home a month ago, James and I have been living with his Dad in the spare room. We’ve spent 4 weeks packing in goodbyes and farewells to friends and family all across the country. Arriving at Heathrow airport was, after such a long build up, a pretty poignant moment:

“You sure you wanna do this?”


“Good, me too. Let’s go.”

Our flight to Roatan was due to stop-over in Houston, Texas. We’d arranged a hotel so we could sleep off the jet lag and turn up at the dive centre feeling refreshed and ready to go. I’ve never been to America. Well actually, I tell a lie – I have been apparently, when I was a baby, but that was long before I could walk, talk or form long-term memories, so I’m going to go ahead and discount that one. With our ESTA visas sorted, I was looking forward to taking in a brief 12 hour snapshot of American life. Perhaps we’ll go to an all-American bar and drink Miller Lights? Maybe we can try one of Texas’ infamous steaks the size of my own face? Maybe we’ll even meet Beyonce – she’s from Houston right?

Whilst the Beyonce dream was a little far-fetched, it turned out that even my more attainable plans would prove to be wholly unachievable. About half way over the Atlantic, the cabin crew began to get a bit restless. A few minutes later, an announcement came over the tannoy: “if there’s a doctor on board, would they please make themselves known to the a member of the crew”.  Not long after, we made a hair-raisingly swift descent to the nearest patch of land in order to rush a passenger to hospital. And so it transpired that my first glimpse of the US of A was through a cabin door onto the scenic runway at Bangor airstrip, Maine.

It’s hard to be pissed off about this kind of thing; when you have your health and no urgent plans to stick to, you can just be grateful that the incident was dealt with professionally, that the invalid received the emergency medical attention he needed, and that you’ll be back on track in a couple of hours. But by the time we landed in Houston, it had gone 10pm. Which is 4am in England.

With all my dreams of starting my adventurous travels on day one out the window, we caught a taxi to our hotel and ordered pizza. Half an hour later I was dead to the world, probably with a bit of stuffed-crust stuck to my cheek. At 7am the next morning we were queuing for security. Whilst I may have been denied the glimpse into the Land of the Free that I was hoping for, I made up for it by ordering a large double cheeseburger and a milkshake for breakfast and, for now, that’ll tide me over. Until next time USA!