Saturday, June 12, 2010

Off Like a Herd of Turtles...

May 31st-Day One

Location: Greensboro, NC

It was finally time to go. When we started planning it seemed like our departure date was so far in the future but all of a sudden it was time to make sure that we could actually pick up and carry our carry-ons and that our suitcases were not over-weight, (Something that I had been working on for a week by the way). Our departure time from Piedmont International Airport was 3:03pm so we loaded the cars with our five suitcases and two carry-ons each.

We got to the desk to check in and we noticed two problems immediately; our plane was delayed with no departure time listed yet and the family in front of us did not speak English and they looked very frustrated. So Sara and I got in line behind them and practiced our waiting skills. There was only one lady behind the desk and she was just as frustrated as the poor people that she was trying to help. Eventually another man came back from his lunch break and he just asked for our names and our paperwork and he stared and typed away at his computer for about half an hour and then he looked up and said that there wasn’t anything that he could do for us because our plane was delayed in Chicago and hadn’t reached Greensboro yet so that meant that we were going to miss our plane to Johannesburg and because our tickets were booked through South African Airways he said that he couldn’t get in to change them. So our next step was to call our travel agent who said that South African Airways wasn’t open because of Memorial Day and that we should just wait and call first thing the next day.

Slightly disappointed but trying to see God’s hand in the situation we went home unloaded the cars and then my cell phone started ringing and it was our travel agent. He said that he had been on the phone with SAA and they said that the airline was absolutely responsible for making sure that we reached our destination even if it meant going with another carrier and that we were to go back to the desk and make them put us on a plane and get us to Namibia, no matter what. If they had a problem with anything we were to call him and he would put them through to SAA who would make sure that it was done.

After hearing these inspirational words we all loaded everything back in the cars and sped back to the airport, which is all of five minutes from our house. Fortunately the line at the airline desk had lessened somewhat and we were able to go right up and explain our situation to the same, still somewhat frazzled lady behind the desk. She immediately went to work figuring out how to get us to Windhoek, Namibia. There was no way for us to leave that day but she was able to book us through Raleigh (about an hour and a half drive from our house but it was where Tiko was booked out of so it made it more convenient for Mom and dropping him off) early the next morning and get us to Dulles with several hours to spare as we waited for the flight to South Africa and then from there we would catch our flight directly to Windhoek.

Once again the cars were loaded and we went home and had ice-cream and a cup of tea, or for those who needed something a little stronger, i.e. me, a cup of coffee. In the end we spent a nice quiet evening at home just relaxing and not doing much of anything. Sara and I went to bed early so as to be mostly alert for our early check in and departure time.

June 1st-Day Two

Location: Greensboro-Dulles-Somewhere over the Atlantic

“Is this Ms. Fabiano?”

“Yes it is who is this?”

“This is Ron (*aside* I don’t actually remember his name) from Continental. The flight that you booked your dog on has been cancelled.”

At this point my heart thudded down to my feet. Not what I wanted to hear right then. How was I going to fix this? I was supposed to be boarding the plane to go to Dulles in about 15 minutes.

“Oh, so what now?” I tried to ask in a somewhat calm voice although that was far from what I felt.

“Well, we have a flight at 11:15 and another at 3:15 that we could put him on, do either of those work for you?”

“The 11:15 would work out perfectly for me. I am getting ready to board my flight and my mom is going to be dropping him off in just a few minutes then. Thank you.” Thank you, Jesus.

“Thank you and have a safe flight.” Click.

I frantically called Mom and she had to turn around and come back to the airport ASAP. She thankfully was not too far and was able to turn around and bring him back and get him all taken care of just as Sara and I were getting ready to take-off to go to Dulles.

Apart from that slight moment of excitement/panic the rest of the day/traveling was largely uneventful. Sara and I found our gate and then walked and found something to eat and then sat at the gate and read until it was time to board.

The flight was its usual long ride. Sara and I were sitting the middle section towards the back of the plane and there was a seat between me and a rather large man so I was able to stretch my legs out a little bit. The one highlight of the trip was three children from Senegal who were absolutely thrilled to be flying. I am not sure if it was their first time on a plane but they had a great time and they really had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. It was so refreshing to watch them see things for the first time and really get excited about the roar of the engines or the shape of the wings or the fact that they had their own personal televisions. So often we take the fact that we can fly across the world in relative comfort and in a relatively short amount of time for granted when in actual fact it is totally amazing that these machines can take us across the world.

More to follow...