It was as circuitous trip, over three continents and the equator, but Chinook’s Edge superintendent Jim Gibbons finally arrived back in Alberta in time for the school board meeting on Wednesday.
Gibbons had been presenting at a global education technology summit in Cape Town, South Africa, last week when the Icelandic volcano erupted, shutting down airports.
Gibbons was speaking to leaders from African countries about how to implement technology on a large scale and how to move people and infrastructure forward at the summit held by SMART Technologies.
His flight home was originally set to take place on Saturday night, with a connector through London, England, but then he found out on Saturday that his ticket was cancelled.
Gibbons said thankfully with SMART Technologies’ resources they were able to help find a way for him to get home for the Chinook’s Edge School Division board meeting.
The original trip to Cape Town through London took around 19 hours but on the way home, Gibbons spent 40 hours in the air and waiting in airports. He flew from Cape Town, South Africa, to Johannesburg. Then to São Paulo, Brazil, Chicago and finally to Calgary, spending 27 hours in flight altogether.
In Brazil, he wasn’t even allowed to leave the airport because a visa was necessary to do so. He said the airports were hectic with many people trying to find a way back to Canada or the United States.
“Your biggest fear is something might go wrong and you’re stranded somewhere where you don’t know people,” he said. “Anyway, it was quite an adventure.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, Chinook’s Edge School Division board chair Ian Taylor was still stranded in Great Britain with hopes of getting home this week.
Red Deer city Councillor Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer said in an email on Wednesday that she wasn’t expecting to return home until Monday at the earliest after her flight from London, through Amsterdam and on to Calgary, was cancelled. She is staying with a cousin in the West Sussex village about an hour’s drive from London.