Well, I made it home yesterday afternoon. It was not the most pleasant travel experience I’ve ever had, but there were no problems with connecting flights, and all my luggage made it along with me, so I shouldn’t complain too much.
But I will complain a little because Oh. My. Gawd. getting out of my husband’s home country was an ordeal.
We arrived more than two hours before my flight was scheduled to depart. Thank goodness Hubby decided to hang out with me through the initial ticketing process, which is much more complicated than checking in here in the US. They have you run your luggage through a scanner before you can check it, and this was the first bump. My suitcase was flagged, and I had to take it over to a security area, open it up, and stand there helplessly for 20 minutes while the security agents tried to figure out what was setting off the system. I was asked repeatedly if I had a phone or camera charger in my bag, which I did not, and they never did figure out what was showing up on the X-ray image. Still, they let me through and even escorted me to the front of the line at the check-in counter to make up for the wait.
Fat lot of good that did me. It didn’t help that there seemed to be a communication failure, and I initially thought the hold-up had to do with the suitcase debacle. I was so confused when the ticketing agent told me she needed to take my passport. Turns out, the computer system was down, and they were taking passports upstairs to have boarding passes and luggage tags hand-written. They initially told me this would take about 20 minutes. Over an hour later, I wasn’t the only one nervously tapping my foot and feeling my blood pressure rise as I continued to wait. I ended up being one of the last people called, and then I had to go back to the security area where they were–for some reason I still haven’t figured out–keeping my suitcase.
By the time I finally got to the security line, I was starting to feel a little better. I knew there was no way the flight would take off on time because every passenger had been affected by the low-tech check-in process, and I recognized some of the people in line near me, who were to be on the same flight. When it was my turn, the woman I was expecting to send me through the metal detector instead handed me over to a man who escorted me to a separate security area, one where they swabbed my bag and shoes and sent my carry-on items through not one, but two high-tech scanners.
There was one other person there who was also supposed to be on my flight, and when the two of us were bumped up in line due to our supposed boarding time, he looked at me and said, “Don’t worry. It’ll be fine.” I did my best to smile, but almost burst into tears right there, not only because I was hitting my breaking point but because these are the words my husband has repeated to me countless times, and would have said in that very situation. But he, having seen me off at the last security check point, was long gone.
I was one of the last to board the plane. Fortunately, it was not a full flight–whether because of the computer issues or some other reason–and I was able to snag an aisle seat, saving me from having to disturb another passenger every time I had to pee or wanted to stretch my legs on the 12-hour flight. I felt like I could finally breathe a sigh of relief.
Then, shortly after dinner service, the turbulence started. Because of where I live and the proximity of mountains to the airport in my city, I’ve had my share of bumpy rides, usually right before landing or just after taking off. But this was intense. The whole fuselage swayed from side to side with such force that I had to grip the arm rests out of sheer panic–something I have never felt, even when being shaken about in the tiny planes that usually fly in and out of our smallish airport. I remember thinking, This can’t be how I die. Without my husband. On the brink of another shot at IVF.
Of course, everything was fine (as Hubby would have predicted) but it was the scariest ride of my life.
From there, things were mildly annoying at worst. I had to re-check-in when we arrived in the US because the handwritten boarding passes only covered the first leg of the flight. I had a long wait between the second and third flights, and I constantly had the fear in the back of my mind that someone would remove our questionably-bordering-on-illegally-obtained meds from my checked luggage. They are now sitting on my kitchen table, so I was worried for nothing.
And the best news is that when I finally got to talk to my husband, he said his dad was doing much better, after finally getting some much-needed sleep. That seemed to be the cure for most of his confusion. He will, however, have to stay in the hospital, probably for another couple of weeks, and when he does go home, he’ll have someone staying with him to make sure he is medically and mentally okay from day to day.
Thank you all for your concern for my family. Your words helped me get through some of those uncertain days and nights.
At some point, I will write a post highlighting the good parts of our trip, but for now, this is already way too long, and I have a to-do list to get through before I return to work tomorrow.