Tech in this post: iPhone 4 used
Mal’s video account, made while we were waiting for the cat.
All things considered, the flight went pretty smoothly. We didn’t have time to get anything to eat at any point, because checking the cat in took about 30 minutes, but we were only delayed 15 minutes in leaving Miami. But we got safely to the Caracas Airport, and all our bags arrived, and we were ready to exit the baggage claim and meet the DH and the embassy driver…except there was no cat. I found an airline employee who was super helpful, and discovered that the cat hadn’t made the connection in Miami and was on the next flight, which would arrive in about 4 hours. With all reassurance that I’d have no trouble getting back into the baggage claim to get her, we made our way out and found Mal’s dad. You can’t take the luggage carts out of baggage claim, so we had to carry my multiple 50-lb bags by hand to the embassy van; thankfully diplomatic plates get to park close.
Traffic in Caracas is such that 4 hours would not be enough time to drive to our apartment and back, so we had to stay at the airport. I wasn’t expecting anyplace to eat, but they actually had a couple cafes, a restaurant bar, and a Subway and Church’s Fried Chicken (which I haven’t seen in like 20 years). We got two meals at Church’s – three chicken strips, fries, and a drink each – and that cost $40.00. It also took about 30 minutes, and the soda was poured from bottles. It’s good to be back in the developing world. Since there’s no chicken in the stores, I’m a little concerned about what it was we actually ate, but it was cooked and it was food, so good enough.
After that, we embarked on several hours of discovering that we wouldn’t be allowed back into baggage claim, and each airline employee we talked to gave us a different procedure. Everyone was extremely pleasant and helpful, but the problem remained. Since all of this was happening in Spanish, Mal had his first immersion class, and did surprisingly well. For instance, when someone gave us directions to the airline office, Mal picked out the word “azul” and looked in the direction the guy was pointing to see only one blue thing, a young woman wearing a blue shirt. So he knew we were supposed to go to her.
The flight we were waiting for was delayed, of course, but after it arrived and all the passengers had come through Customs, the DH found an airline employee who, rather than giving us a lengthy description of a process we needed to do, simply said, “Oh, I’ll go get her.” And sure enough, he came back moments later with our cat. She’d been in the carrier without food or water for about 14 hours, but seemed none the worse for the wear, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. The DH and the embassy driver had been at the airport for 7 hours at this point, so I think the driver pretty much hates our cat. He says there’s always something like this, though – sometimes they have to wait that long for the person.
The drive to our apartment was actually pretty speedy, since it was late at night and counter traffic. It was Mal’s first ride in an armored vehicle, and my first ride in that serious of an armored vehicle. The driver put the pedal to the floor and kept it there as we sped through some of the most dangerous urban areas on the planet. We got to our secure gated and guarded compound without incident, dropped our heavy bags in the middle of the living room floor, and were in our new home at last.