Wednesday, July 28, 2010

One for the record books

Do you remember when air travel was easy, fun, even exciting? Probably sometime before 9/11 for most of us.
After twelve weeks, five flight changes, and two missed connections, we finally arrived at our house in Brazil on Tuesday.
Are you ready for the tale? Hope you have your coffee (or other choice beverage) in hand...
*Pics of ordeal not available. See inserted inspiration images for monologue relief*

Saturday, the 24th was my birthday. We had finally received Isla's visa after a twelve week ordeal of government bureaucracy, and we were scheduled to fly home. The girls and I had been in Texas, while Ben worked both in Brazil, and The States, so it was actually a great gift to finally have my family together. The plan was for me to fly with the girls from Houston to Atlanta, where I'd meet up with Ben for the overnight direct flight to Brasilia.
A garden I need - San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

When I checked in in Houston - six bags and two kids in tow - I asked the "kind" lady at the counter if she could give a birthday girl some decent seats. Instead I got, "Well, I can give you some bad news on your birthday - your flight has been delayed - you'll get in thirty minutes before your flight to Brazil departs."
I took a deep breath, and just prayed we'd make it - maybe Ben could tell the gate keepers in Atlanta our situation, and they'd wait. I must not have much pull with my prayers, because very shortly thereafter, the flight was further delayed, making it impossible to make our connection.
The direct flights are only offered three times a week, so I knew the earliest we could catch the next flight was Monday, and the agents said there weren't any seats available, anyway. Tears. Restless and tired kids in an airport is not a happy place.
My make-believe Parisian pied à terre

Fast forward to Atlanta. My flight arrived about ten minutes before the Brazil flight was set to take off, so I grabbed the girls, and started to haul it, but Ben met us, and said our seats had been given to standbys. We had to go to the re-booking counter, a train ride three concourses down.

When we got to the counter, I realized I didn't have my carry-on, which I had gate checked. The carry on that contained my $$$ camera/lenses, laptop, iPod, prescription meds, jewelry, oh, and all of Isla's new social security and birth certificate cards. It was a flippin' goldmine for someone with sticky fingers, and I was beside myself. Picture a frantic woman with baby in Bjorn running down the concourse back to the gate - that was me. At the gate - no dice - no one had seen it. Had I left it? I don't know - I was in a serious hurry. It wasn't with the stroller and car seat I had also checked. Again, tears.
Bookshelf goodness

Two hours later - about midnight - the international desk found us seats to fly Monday night, but they weren't direct - we'd have to route through Rio. OK, fine - we just needed sleep. Both girls were still awake - and totally, totally out of their minds tired.

We were told our bags were in a holding area, one we couldn't get to since it was so late. So they sent us on our way to a meager hotel, with a "care kit" that contained a t shirt, a toothbrush, and that's about it. But, before we left, I made a claim for my missing bag.

It was after 2 am Sunday when we all crashed. Happy Birthday to me.
Despite the trendiness, I still love this type of art - for the sheer thundering movement of it

Monday, we were back at the airport, trying to get our bags - for the diapers, changes of clothes we so desperately needed. Good news: bags arrived AND my carry on had shown up in Oklahoma City, and could be sent back later that afternoon. Good thing I got that file started the night before! Major happy dance ensued.

We took a long afternoon nap, and Ben retrieved my carry on that evening - everything intact. Dear God, I know these are not the important things in life, but I owe you one.
Settee and ottoman prettiness

Monday, refreshed with a full-night's rest, we took the girls on the MARTA downtown to the Children's Museum, where Avery had a blast. Took naps and showers, and got ready for our flight.

Before we took the shuttle, I asked Ben to check our flight status (our luck, you know) He got quiet - not good - then said, "Business."
Me: "Hmm?"
Ben: "Business - we got bumped to business - all of us."
With new spring in our step, we headed to ATL with plenty of time to spare.
Get out of my way, I'm jumping in first!

Then, watched out the windows as the Heavens opened up, and released an enormous deluge. We nervously watched the flight status - it stayed On Time.

We boarded, settled, and began smugly sipping champagne, when the Captain came on the overhead saying we were missing about 70 passengers who were delayed by weather - we would wait for them - for two hours. (Kinda wish they'd offered US that courtesy) Oh well - we were comfy, so it didn't smart as much.

But, it did make us miss our connection in Rio. Ugh, and freakin' ugh BUT with the help of a gracious airline valet - we were rebooked for the next flight, which boarded immediately.
My dream house would most likely have a similar courtyard

It's a short flight - Rio to Brasilia - less than two hours, but we and our kids were toast. Too little sleep. Too much confinement, and our now oh-so-refined rear ends felt especially punished by the coach seats.

We walked in the door of Casa Giese around 3:30 on Tuesday, beat to a pulp, but together, and home.
Avery 3 years, Isla 3 months


Raina Cox said...

Goodness, Girl, I need a drink after reading about that awful trip.

Bless your heart.

And Happy (belated) Birthday, Gorgeous!

Stephanie Sabbe said...

wow! I do remember when air travel was fun. Not anymore. I love that you have to pay for "more leg room" I moved to one of those seats because they were all empty on my last flight and the flight attendant made me move back. SO annoying!

The girls are so cute!

Sarah said...

What a journey for you and your family. I am glad to hear that it ended well especially after everything you had been through. Business class is nice, I am a big believer in it!

Kiki said...

My gosh - yes Raina is right, I need a drink, a few meds and a huge zanex!!! WOW!! Happy bel;ated birthday and the girls are adorable..


paula said...

oh my, I just got overwhelmed reading it, I couldnt imagine.

On a happy note... Happy Birthday!

Cristin @ Simplified Bee said...

Traveling with little ones can be rough! I am glad you all arrived safely {including your carry-on}

Happy belated birthday too!


Bailey@ peppermintbliss said...

Yow.Za.I am glad y'all made it back safely, you must get super human mom strength/patience when you have kids because I seriously broke out into hives reading this. Experiencing this would probably have caused an irreversible mental brake!

Lindsey Encinias said...

I'm an emotional mess today as it's my last day to keep Henry and reading this just made the tears stream down my face. You have been to hell and back in the last 12 weeks. I admire your strength, patience and courage through it ALL. I'm so thankful you all are home and together. Thank God you got that carry-on back...that was dreadful. Enjoy your first weekend back!

Lavender and Lilies said...

Oh my goodness. Bless your heart.

Averill said...

Oh my! What an adventure. I can't imagine traveling with two small children internationally and with so many connections. Glad you all made it home, safe and sound!

Linda@ Lime in the Coconut said...

Oy! So so OY!

I can feel your sweet relief being home!

my favorite and my best said...

mike traveled for years on a weekly basis and as atlanta airport is our home airport i can attest to the fact that our airport cancels more flights daily than releases them. it is the busiest airport in the world. and quite possibly the biggest and the worst. i am so sorry you dealt with this...but should you ever have to fly into or out of atlanta again with connecting flights you can count on it.
avoid this airport at all costs.
sorry i wasn't here to entertain you. you could have taken marta one stop to college park and been inside my house within 5 minutes.
well, next time (if god forbid there is one) i will make sure you have a home cooked meal and a place to rest.

blydesign said...

Love your blog! Look forward to following :)

Emily A. Clark said...

I can only imagine how happy you were to be in your own bed again. I am so sorry to hear about this ordeal! I would've done more than cry--probably had a complete nervous breakdown. Glad you and your family are home safely.