Teresa Grant spends her days traveling the world, going on African safaris and seeing Broadway shows in London. Teresa’s exciting lifestyle is attributed to being an international flight attendant for Keystone Aviation. This interview is a glimpse into Teresa’s world and details her favorite trip yet.
KA: What made you want to be a flight attendant?
T: I don’t want to give you the standard answer of ‘I love to travel,’ but I always wanted to be a flight attendant when I was younger. My father was in construction and after college I became a general contractor. After I left construction, I started working at a winery for fun – pouring wine and meeting people from all over the world and it started bringing that feeling back of wanting to be a flight attendant. The people who came to the winery encouraged me to pursue it.
KA: What is it like to be an international flight attendant?
T: I have to pinch myself that I’m doing it. I really do. I have gotten to see places all over the world. Places I didn’t even know existed, that I have to look up on an atlas to find out where they are. This job has definitely made my geography better and my family’s geography better. It’s interesting too, when I read or hear about world news, it means more to me now than it ever did before because I have been there, I have met those people.
KA: What is your favorite trip so far?
T: Probably the Africa trip we just completed. I had to keep reminding myself that ‘you are here in Africa’ and ‘you are doing this.’
KA: Tell me where you went in Africa and what it was like getting there?
T: Well this trip was amazing altogether. We first started in New York and from there went to London. And I told myself that this time in London I would see some shows. So I bought myself tickets to the Lion King, went to the show the first night and it was amazing. So I caught the fever, and bought a ticket to see Mama Mia as a matinee the next day. Then it was time to get ready for the trip. We flew from London to Tanzania which is where you fly into to go to Kilimanjaro.
KA: Which is the tallest mountain in Africa?
T: Correct. We flew into Tanzania, but we were staying in Arusha. After we arrived, we got our customers on their way and then cleaned up the airplane. Then we had a driver take us to our hotel in the city. Driving from the airport to the hotel, there was a distinct smell. That’s something I always appreciate – every country has its own smell.
KA: What did it smell like?
T: Barbeque. Not like Texas barbeque, but we couldn’t quite figure out what the locals were burning. We thought they were burning coal or briquette. What we finally figured out is that their kitchens are outside, so it was a group housing situation and they were cooking dinner outside.
KA: What was the hotel like?
T: The hotel was clean and we had running water, but the power is not reliable in that part of Africa. They are constantly having outages and nobody seems to be phased by the power going out for minutes at a time. In one hour, it probably happened 10 times. It just goes to show that we take power for granted here.
KA: What did you do the next day?
T: The next morning, our driver for the safari came to the hotel and picked us up, in one of those safari Jeeps. The preserve was about two hours from our hotel.
KA: What was the first animal you saw?
T: A baboon. We were so excited when we first saw the baboon, but by the end of the next day, we were just like ‘oh yah, it’s a baboon’ because there were so many of them.
KA: What other animals did you see?
T: So driving through the preserve, animals can come and go so it’s not guaranteed that you’ll see anything, but we saw hippopotamuses, baboons, and giraffes in the distance.
KA: But no lions?
T: Not on the first day. We stayed the night in a safari camp. It was like elite camping. I had my own bungalow which had a full bathroom with a fire place and running water. That night, we had a 7 course dinner. Our guide ate dinner with us and it was fun getting to ask him questions. We woke up when it was still dark out and started to drive into the next preserve. It was actually a crater, the second largest crater in the world where there once was a volcano. These animals are all living in this crater. I mean, it was just like the Lion King.
KA: Almost exactly as you would imagine?
T: It was idyllic. So we drove up up up and once we got to the top, we looked over this vast crater and our guide said ‘we are going to drive down into this and you will see all the animals.’ So we drove down in there and we started seeing water buffalo and hyenas, and zebras – thousands of zebras. We also got to see lot of baby animals. Buffalo were actually dropping their babies right in front of us. It was like watching the circle of life.
But our goal that day was, of course, to see lions. I had binoculars and saw two female lions in the distance. The guide said ‘let’s move on – they will eventually be moving onto the watering hole and we will catch them as they move.’ Sure enough, the female lions come walking over. We park our Jeep, and another Jeep shows up and the lions walk right over and lay in the shadow of that Jeep.
KA: So no male lions yet, just the female lions?
T: A little bit later, I saw through the binoculars what I thought was a male lion. So we drove towards the lion as fast as we could – it was a male lion but he was walking away from where we were. Our guide said ‘just wait a second, see those water buffalo over there, a buffalo is going to challenge that lion’ and right after he says that, a buffalo turns and challenges the lion and the lion turns around and starts walking towards us. Closer and closer to the point where I asked ‘are we ok to stay here.’ He just walks right over and lies in the shadow of our Jeep. I haven’t been that close to a lion in a zoo. And all I could think was ‘I can’t believe I’m here doing this.’ We also saw elephants, but they were off in the distance.
KA: So after Tanzania, where did you go?
T: We went to Ethiopia which has its own smell as well. It smells like burnt coffee. The people sit out on the road side roasting their coffee beans. We didn’t do as much in Ethiopia because we were recovering from our safari adventure.
KA: What about the rest of the trip?
T: After Ethiopia, we went to Rome. We were only there for a day so we decided to get up early to go see the Colosseum. We tried to see as much as we could in the time we had.
KA: Last question – where is your dream destination that you have yet to go?
T: I would love to go to Austria. My dream has always been to experience Switzerland, and I have been there, but the weather was terrible at the time. So I would love to go back and see Switzerland, Austria and Germany. There is a hike I have been told about in Switzerland where you walk from town to town in the mountains and you actually end up in three different countries. The funny thing with this job is we get to go to these countries because our clients want to go, but we are limited to what we can do because we have to make ourselves available and have time constraints. So we don’t always get to see exactly what we want to see. When I retire, my husband and I plan to travel the world…on our own schedule…