The workday was ending in Chennai, India when 14 Estonian ship protectors finally got their departure papers stamped. Next, Secretary General of the Estonian Foreign Ministry Annely Kolk told the men to go to their lodging, take their things, and go to the airport – their plane would leave at 01.50 p.m. (22.20 Estonian time).
Things did not go so smoothly at the airport. Temporary documents issued to the ship protectors caused confusion among local Lufthansa employees and forced Kolk to intervene together with Estonian consul Mats Kuuskemaa. A few of the men feared problems at the airport would keep them from leaving India, while most managed to keep faith.
It took several long hours for the men to make it to security check. Kolk and Kuuskemaa walked the ship protectors to their plane. The men hugged Kolk and thanked her for her efforts over the past week one after another before boarding their flight.
Approximately ten hours later, the plane touched down in Frankfurt, Germany where the thermometer showed a few degrees above freezing.
“There’s steam coming from my mouth;” one of the men said smiling when stepping into the cool morning. “I had forgotten that’s what happens when it’s cold.”
The men still had to go through passport control and wait the entire day for their flight home to Estonia.