Wednesday, August 05, 2009

I'm Back.

Hello again, anyone out there? It's been while, eh? It's so hard for me to come back to blogging after a break, but my mom is on my case about it so here I am.

We're back in Brazil after what was a grueling trip home.

As I hope to someday, in the not so distant future, be living somewhere permanently and taking relatively normal, relaxing vacations, I am posting this so as to remember the craziness that is involved in transporting 6 people, and their stuff, 5,000 miles.

The angst begins for me about 2 days before the actual trip begins. I have to figure out how to stuff everything that I bought into our 12 allotted suitcases in such away that doesn't make it look like I'm smuggling in chocolate chips and Glad trash bags to sell on the black market.

I was in the States for 6 weeks this time. That's a lot of trips to Target. "We" ended up with a total of 13 bags, so poor Guapo had to carry on his small suitcase he was planning on checking so that we could move through the airport more quickly. He graciously only stayed angry at me a few minutes after he realized my little error.

So, 6 people and 12 checked bags and a variety of carry-ons (see below) requires not only our new van, but also my mom's car to get us to the airport. And an extra driver so our car can end up back at my mom's house.

Getting to the aiport isn't so bad. I just sit there and try not to think about anything I may have forgotten or about leaving our families or our house or new car or decent ice cream or Target behind. Sometimes I'm successful, but mostly I sit there and cry my eyes out like a baby.

We pull up at the airport and that's when the real fun begins.

We first have to find some poor sap to help with the 12 heavy bags while we try to fish all of the small bags out of the car. We slow-ly make our way to the ticket counter. Oh, how I miss flying domestically with its convenient curbside check-ins. As we approach, I can feel the ticket agents trying not to make eye contact with us-they don't want the likes of us in their line. We got a good one this time though, very helpful and friendly to the kids.

There's always a question of whether or not our documentation is valid to travel to Brazil. That takes several minutes to sort out and then there's the checking in of the bags. They never seem to remember that Brazil is the only country that allows your bags to be 70 lbs, instead of the normal 50 lbs. So there's always a "discussion" about that. Meanwhile, the kids occupy themselves by getting in to all of the special treats and toys in their backpacks that are meant for the flight and trying to weight themselves on the scales.

Finally, we get rid of the big bags and make our way to security. This trip, as I count it, we had 17 carry-ons:

1. Guapo's suitcase
2. Guapos briefcase
3. My small rolling computer bag
4. My large purse
5. Camera Bag
6. Margarita's Backpack
7. Julio's Backpack
8. Juan Carlos' Backpack
9. Pedro's Bag
10 & 11. 2 Full Size Pillows
12. Pedro's airplane stroller
13. Pedro's normal stroller

14, 15, 16, 17. And four kids.

17 items we have to keep track of.

Getting through security is a major, major circus; shoes everywhere, Pedro determined to get through the metal detector while we are still unloading laptops, struggling to fold strollers, and quickly trying to remember if we have any clandestine liquids in any of the bags. We must have used 10 of those plastic tray thingies.

But we made through without losing a single item (that I know of, at least).

The trip to Houston was great.

Guapo got upgraded to first class, and since it is his personal policy to give me all upgraded seat assignments (what a sweetheart), I was living the good life up in the front. He was in the back dealing with a fussy Pedro and poor Juan Carlos (6 yrs) screaming, "We're going to crash!" when the plane hit turbulence (he is obviously still dealing with the Air France crash from a couple of months ago). Pedro (2 yrs), seeing what a reaction this got, spent the remainder of the flight screaming out, "We're going to crash!" Fun, fun stuff.

My pleasure trip ended upon arrival in Houston where we learned that our 9 pm flight was delayed ten hours. That is a blow on so many levels. The obvious blow is that we have to make our way to a hotel via over-crowded shuttle bus where we will try to rest until 5 am when we have to be back in the airport. Although we have plently of carry on bags to lug with us, they don't really contain things that will enable us to comfortably spend an extra night on our vacation. Of course, they do contain the treats for the kids that were supposed to last through the duration of the never-ending flight but now will not last the first 15 minutes.

The second, and more serious blow in my opinion, is that now our 12-hour NIGHT flight is a 12-hour DAY flight. If I absolutely must spend 12 hours on a plane with my dear, sweet, 2-year old, I sure as heck rather have it be at night than during the day after spending a very short night in an unfamiliar hotel room. We tried to get on the next night's flight, but there were only 3 seats left and the thoughts of flying home without Guapo (and the slight possibility of being upgraded) with Pedro and 6 heavy bags to deal with on my own was too much for me.

I accepted my fate.

The plane ended up leaving an extra hour late, so we finally got out of Houston around 8 am.

I (Guapo) did not get upgraded.

We made it in one piece. It wasn't as bad as I had imagined it by a long shot, but it still isn't something I'd like to do on a regular basis.

We paid our little aiport dude $25 and he got us to the front of the immigration and customs lines. I was scared of going through customs after my last experience, but happily, they waved us right through. I'm pretty sure they just didn't want to tick off all of the people who were legitimately waiting in line (instead of cutting it like us) by making them stand there for an hour while they searched our 25 bags. There's no way they could think we had less than $500 of merchandise in all of these bags:

(You may think it excessive (Gua-po), but as I payed almost $6.00 for a tube of toothpaste yesterday, I am grateful for everything I brought back)

It ended up taking us just under 30 hours door-to-door. Ugggh.

Am I glad to be back? Yes and no. I miss my family and the freedom the kids have in the States to go outside and play. And Target, of course.

But, It's nice to sleep in the same bed 3 nights in a row and truth be told, I was starting to get fat in the States. After my race I kind of replaced running with drinking milkshakes. Not really a fair swap.

More to come...


Janice said...

On one flight back from Ohio, my 1 1/2 year old yelled "PENIS" for a full hour. Every time, he yelled it, my five year old repeated it after him--like an echo. Fun times.

Abby said...

When I looked at the picture of all your suitcases, my first thought was, "She looks so cute!" (she being you). Not kidding. You didn't look fat to me when I saw you in person either!

That flight experience sounds like torture, and I can totally picture Pedro screaming "We're going to crash" just for fun:) Glad you're back to blogging. I should follow your lead.

Fabiola said...

Dear Gabriela....

I copied your post to my computer, so I could read it when I was tired of work.
It was a good entertainment (I am sorry to say).
If I am tired of moving around (5 times in 8 years), I can only imagine what it is for you.

Now that we are closer to our families, it is really nice to have a real vacation.

I am glad you are back. And you don't look fat at all.

I am working 1/2 of my time for a new project in Rio, so as soon as I have some trip schedule, I will let you know.


Janet said...

Thanks for the laugh first thing in the morning - at your expense - sorry. :)

Ballerina Girl said...

Ah, all I can say is...
I love ya Gabs....I love your stories, they rack me up!

Oh, and one more thing...
read my blog! I am going to post now about something that I conveniently chose to forget about the ticket agent, hahaha!
Thanks for reminding me!


Gabriela said...

Janice: that's AWESOME!

Abby: Thanks, but you see I am dressed in black and it's taken from pretty far away.

Yes, please blog-I miss you!

Fabiola: Yes, let's get together soon.

Janet: No prob.

Ballerina Girl: Just read ya. So irritating. Long live the 70 lb bag!

Kari said...

Hi, Gabriela!

That flight delay put your trip over the top. You win the TRAVEL INSANITY award! Congratulations!

Your blog suddenly gave me airport flashbacks from Mexico City, and yes, I remember 13 things to keep track of...a circus, that everybody else just stares at. (They must live boring lives, I'm sure...)

Glad you're back online!

Unknown said...

I am so glad you are back! Your flight experience makes me thankful that I don't have enough money to travel. :-)

The strike system you asked about is quite simple. When you see/hear unacceptable behavior (fighting, laziness, being rude, bad language, whatever...)you give that child or children a strike. 4 strikes earns them a chore. I think I'll give Zach a strike right now for whining at me because I'm taking too long on the computer. :-)

k-squared's mom said...

What a surprise to see a new post! Been stalking your blog everyday (sometimes 2x) as I try to not give birth earlier than 35 weeks. All the moving and stress is making me contract prematurely. Anyway, I can imagine the chaos of travelling. Especially after 6 weeks of shopping! But I am so glad you're back. That's crazy! a half day flight delay!

Stephanie said...

I am sooooooo glad you are back. I love reading your stories! Thanks for letting us be involved.

Your Oldest Brother said...

Love your post. I could really visualize it.

Head Nurse or Patient- you be the judge said...

Hope my son doesn't bring home that much luggage :) however- he already has mailed home three boxes of stuff. I couldn't have handled the airport drama alone- let alone with kids in tow- good job!

I know I wouldn't want to search your luggage- holy cow- weird story though- our luggage was searched on our flight from Kauai to Honolulu- they broke the zipper and just wrapped plastic tape around it- not a happy