May 31, 2009

A rough start to a long trip

Thursday, May 28, 2009
Our flight this morning was at 6:55am. So, I asked Mark, our generous friend who offered us a ride to the airport, if he wouldn't mind picking us up at 5:30am, or actually 5:45, as the Kansas City airport is never crowded, or so I thought. After finally getting my bags packed at 1am the night before, I set my alarm for 5:00am, and went to sleep. I woke up, and took a nice hot shower. Then, around 5:25 am, Nando, my husband, said to me: What time did you say the plane is? I said 6:55, so Mark will be here at 5:45, and, “Oh, sh#$, that is wrong. I fuc$#ed up!!” We need to be at the airport at 6:00am, so we should have left at 5:00am....

I called Mark, and, luckily, he was ready and came right over. We made a mad rush out of the house and, by 5:40, am, me, Nando, and the three kids were packed into Mark's minivan and ready to go. I told Nando, who was driving, that we have to make the one hour drive in 45 minutes, because if we are not there by 6:25 am, we are not going to be able to get on the plane with checked bags.

On the way, I checked the flight on my Blackberry, and, to my chagrin, it was on time. We made it to the airport at 6:27am, and the SkyCap guy tells us it's too late. Resigned to the consequences of my miscalculation, we go inside, and wait in line to talk to an agent. A few minutes later, I was able to talk to an agent, and told her: “We're on the 6:55 flight to Miami.”

“Do you have bags?”

“Yes, four.”

“Okay, you need to hurry, you are late.”

And, can you believe she began to tag our bags! Every one of our four suitcases was a couple of pounds over, so we had to take a few things out. One of the things I took out was Nando's power drill. That was mistake number two, as that didn't make it onto the plane. But, we did! We made it on board despite an unusually long line at the security gate, ten carry-on bags of varying sizes, and the power drill. We were that family who got on last that everyone had to wait for. But, we got on!

We boarded the plane and headed to our row of seats, row 45, all the way at the back of the plane. Two of our assigned seats were taken by a woman with a small boy. She had moved because they were seated apart. I asked the lady if she would prefer to move or sit next to my kids. She told me she didn't mind sitting by my children, so Nando and I went up to rows 36 and 31, and went to sleep while our kids entertained themselves and the nearby passengers for the duration of the flight to Atlanta.

I was glad our layover was in Atlanta, because they have a play area. Play areas are one of the best ideas airports have had! An indoor playground while you are waiting for your flight – fabulous idea. Unfortunately, someone decided to close the play area at ATL. I noticed they didn't close the smoking lounge! Now we know where their priorities are.

Despite the lack of a designated play area, the children managed to entertain themselves with the two carry-on suitcases full of toys that we brought with us while we waited for our 1:30 pm flight to Miami. Tatiana and Soraya's favorite item turned out to be these Pokemon books that explain all of the characteristics of each of the Pokemons. I was hesitant to buy this book in Border's yesterday, but the girls insisted they would actually be interested in reading them. I suppose they were right.

The flight from Atlanta to Miami was fairly uneventful. Except, there was an older gentleman seated in front of Raymi. She dug her feet into his seat, and he asked me to ask her not to kick his seat. Thereafter, each time she used the seat to dig her feet into, I told her not to, and even prevented her from doing it a couple of times. But, she's five, so she kept forgetting. So, the woman seated next to the man, perhaps his daughter, turns around and tells me to tell her to stop. I told the woman that I was watching her, but she's five and sometimes forgets. She told me: “You need to control your daughter,” to which I replied:

“Don't you talk to me like that! Now, I was being nice...”

I guess my tone of voice did it and she kept her thoughts to herself. Now, I do try to limit the extent to which my children inconvenience others, but when we are going to be traveling from 5am to 10pm, I do let some things slide. And, I'm not that bad. In fact, as I was getting off of the plane, the man behind me told me he thought I was doing a great job of controlling my children!

After that plane ride, we made our way over to the international terminal, checked in for our flight to Kingston, and I spotted the famous Miami Airport restaurant: Carreta Cubana. We had some delicous empanadas, a Cuban sandwich, and a chocolate croissant. After that meal, fatigue began to set in – I should have had a cafe cubano as well. Fortunately, security was bearable, and we made it to the departure lounge, to find out that our 6:55pm flight had been delayed an hour.

We parked ourselves by the windows and I looked for things to entertain the children. Tatiana played on my laptop; Soraya watched a movie on the ipod, and Raymi found a woman to ask a million questions to. I sat down to relax and Raymi came over. She began to talk to a couple sitting near me, and told them we were going to be in Jamaica for 60 days. They asked me what I was going to do. I told them I was going to do research on people who have been deported from the US. The man told me that was brave.

It seems as if whenever I mention to Jamaicans the subject of my research they think that deportees are a dangerous lot, even though the vast majority are deported for non-violent crimes, and some are deported simply for being undocumented.

We made it to Kingston with a fairly uneventful plane ride. Tatiana and Soraya kept watching the ipod, and Raymi fell asleep. Not without kicking the chair of the woman in front of her, though. This woman, however, took it upon herself to ask Raymi not to do that.

Upon landing in Kingston, we got a taxi to our new apartment, and the woman who is renting to us was here to help us settle in. Finally, around 11pm, I was able to get to sleep.

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