Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Travel Travel

Some fun. Holy God.

The morning started off better than mornings have a right to start. With a last wistful look, we left our apartment in Madrid for six weeks, closing the door quietly behind us. The plants watered, the fridge nearly empty, the Jamon gently placed in the bin.

Then the cab came on time.

We arrived at the airport two hours ahead of when our plane was set to depart. We were greeted by a teeming mass of humanity greater than the herds of buffalo that once roamed this great land. (See, I'm in America now so I can actually say that and not mean Madrid buffalo.)

Oh they were everywhere. We could barely get in the door. Each window had lines as long as a Dune sandwurm.

Except for ours.

Making our way through the press of the crowd, we plunged right through the sea of humanity to find the Continental windows completely vacant. We don't know what the chaos was behind us, but for once, it didn't touch us. We were in a mystical sea of calm inside an airport. Impossible, but true.

Wendy's bag was too heavy so we had to transfer stuff into mine. Like her computer power cord and all her toiletries and an extra computer battery. That was enough and that minor emergency solved, we got our tickets and boarding passes. On to that living nightmare known as "security." And again, there was no line.

In all of the traveling I have done in the past six months, this has never happened. Every single time has a been a line hundreds of people long at every major airport. Even the small airports had lines tens of people long. But not today.

We went to a small cafe and got some diet coke, a coke, a pizza baguette and some yogurt. Behind us, at 12:15 in the afternoon, a small elderly Spanish couple is finishing off the fifth beer of their lunch. Ah Spain. We won't see sights like that in the next six weeks.

Boarding was also hassle free. What a great day we are having!

Eight and a half hours later and I'm starting to wonder if this plane is ever going to land... And then when it does finally land, twenty minutes late already, someone is parked in our gate, so we sit on the tarmac for an hour waiting for a space to park. We finally make our way inside and find out our luggage will be coming in on carousel 11. Fifteen bags from our airplane come in, Wendy's being the third one out. I gleefully grab it and anxiously scan for mine.

Spain refuses to let me go. Next to me, a little Spanish kid is crowding into me trying to get his luggage. Only he doesn't seem to know which luggage is his and keeps grabbing all the black bags that go by. He starts to struggle with one of them, pulling it out and I step aside to give him room. Seeing her chance, his grandmother crowds into the space I just vacated and starts guessing at bags as well. She hauls one out, I step back a little more, starting to get peeved and mom and his sister push by me and start also pawing every ones bags looking for more of theirs. I look at Wendy and smile.

"What the Hell?" she says to me.
"Typical Spaniards."

I see an opening and jump back into a space that grandma has just vacated and press myself all the way tight to the carousel, learning a valuable lesson. If you leave a single space, they will take it. That space must be free! Oh were you standing there? Didn't see you!

But if you stand right up tight, they can't slide between you. I have learned a valuable lesson and hold my position.

2 minutes later and a loudspeaker blares that our luggage will now be coming out on carousel 14. What the Hell? Must have something to do with someone in our gate earlier and now they have to move or some damn thing.

We make our way over to baggage carousel 14 and nothing is moving. A few minutes go by and a girl from our flight informs the crowd she just got one piece of her luggage off carousel 13. They make an announcement. "Oops, we meant 13."

Sporadically, people from our flight start finding luggage coming out on 11, 13, and 14. But, as time drags on, more and more people are still without luggage, and more and more flights have come in and more and more luggage and people are being crowded into the area.

Meanwhile we, and a dozen others, keep asking where the rest of the luggage from our flight is. They don't know. Baggage isn't answering there phone. Well can you go talk to them? Page them? You have a walkie talkie use that!

Two hours later and everyone gives up. My bag is still no where to be found as I type this. My bag with checks I want to cash worth $2200, with all my new clothes, with my suit for the wedding this weekend in Rhode Island, with Wendy's make up and computer power cord and extra battery.

Not fun.

"Luckily" we have a 5 hour layover so we still have time to get a steak a couple beers and a crab cake before we have to board our flight to Burlington. Also luckily, the family of five, four of them being very small children, decide NOT to sit next to us and go somewhere else.

Not so luckily, we are seated next to a couple that seems to think they are the cats meow of western civilization. A young couple that talks on their cell phones for the entire meal, send back the meat he got on his salad to have it done more, and ask a dozen questions about every piece of food as if they were eating in a 5 star restaurant not a pub in an airport.


Our plane is ten minutes late boarding, we get on and they inform us "There's a bit of a line to take off, and we're about fifteenth so its going to be about 45 minutes until we can leave."

Wendy and I both swear loudly.

To make up time, the tiny little plane is cranked into warp factor eleven to get to Burlington and hits a lot of turbulence. The relentless noise of the engines and the dipping and jostling fray my nerves and I scream like a little girl and Wendy has to slap me a few times. (In all reality I told her I wasn't enjoying this flight at all and she did a brilliant job of talking me down and taking my mind off it. Such an amazing woman.)

My folks graciously pick us up at the airport and drive us home. The entire house has been cleaned, car inspected and cleaned, dogs shaved and all vet appointments done, and, I kid you not, Doug has turned down the bed and put chocolates on the pillows.

It's good to be home.


  1. I know your American'ness would probably prevent this, but I wonder what would happen if you tried to become the rude person and butted up to the front of ever line? Would they freak that an American is out Spanishing them? Would they go all mob on you and pull out the torches and pitchforks? You should try it in 6 weeks and let us know what happens.

  2. I don't know if I have the cajones to do that, but I get annoyed enough that sometime I will snap and it will probably happen.

    I'll keep you updated.