Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Morocco ~ getting here: Arlington to IAD

September 2nd began early; it began when it started: at midnight with a sick child. JR woke me up complaining of a stomach ache. A few minutes, and every couple of hours, later she was throwing up in the bathroom. When she was not throwing up, her brother was nursing. Between JR and JR that night I hardly got any sleep, and morning did not fare much better news. Jannah-Rae was exhausted, feverish and sad. She hardly ate anything and spent the best part of her last day in the US on the couch watching shows on the iPad. Meanwhile her brother drifted in and out of his usual naps completely oblivious to the drastic changes coming about.

Around noon I laid down to rest but my mind was running wild with visions of the trip. I was worried that the suitcases where over packed, imagining the airline agents asking me to empty things out, having to pay penalties for the car seats, seeing the suitcases getting lost, and other travel-related horrors. I saw myself arriving late to the airport, the flight being cancelled, the kids getting more sick on the plane. So, instead of catching some sleep, I ended up repacking, moving things around, taking things out, calling the cab to come earlier and just stressing over the entire ordeal. And while some of my concerns later turned out to be just in my head, others were right-on.

After waiting in line for 30 minutes to check in at the airport with Air France, I was informed that Yousef was ticketed as an "unpaid adult," hurdle number one! More waiting....issue resolved. Next came the weight of the suitcases.

I was allowed three checked bags, two weighing 23 kilos for the fully paid fare and one for the infant weighing ten. The first suitcase on the scale passed the weight check; 18.8 kilos. Next on the scale was the infant suitcase; weight 18.8 kilos. Gulp! Deep breath in. Some waiting...all clear. Third suitcase on the scale; weight 18.8 kilos. What?! Wait a minute something is not right here... The scale was broken! And apparently it had been broken for a while according to the agent! It only took him a few suitcases to figure it out! Imagine if he had charged me for the infant suitcase as "over-weight" when all along it had not been! Luckily that was averted, but I hate to think what would have happened if things were different!

Now to get my mom a gate pass so she could help me through security. "Sorry, we do no longer issue gate passes to physically capable adults. Only for handicapped individuals needing assistance." Again, gulp, sigh, look of shock. What was I going to do? I had planned on her assistance in my mind all along. The supervisor was walking around. What would it hurt to ask again. I gave her the look of desperation. She looked at the kids then back at me. She ran to the back with my mom's driver's license. Another catastrophe averted! So far so good.

The security checkpoint was a breeze. They had installed a new security system since Jeff travelled two weeks ago and all we had to do was walk! No emptying out liquids, no taking electronics out of bags, no removing shoes. Look ahead, smile and keep going! The stroller was still with us. We were still going strong.

It was now 3:30 and we were at the gate after much walking and many elevator rides. We had been at the airport since 1:00 and JR was getting tired. While seated at a table getting organized a ground agent appears out of no-where asking us to tag our stroller. I was impressed. She was being proactive and helpful. I gave her what she asked for. She returned with a blow. My stroller, my donkey, my carry-on carrying apparatus, JR's rest place, Yousef's nap spot, my bathroom relief assistant had been checked in all the way to.... Rabat! "You will pick up your stroller in Rabat, madame," she beamed. It took a second or two to register. "What!" I yelled in response. I needed that free acquisition that I have embarked on locating before I left the US to help me when there was no help was around. I needed that stroller like I needed another pair of arms. "I'm sorry, madame. These are the regulations. We cannot gate check it for you to Paris. You have to pick it up at the end of your journey. But don't worry, there are strollers in Paris. Just ask an agent there and they will give you one." "Are you certain?" "Of course I am. Just fold up the stroller on your way into the plane." And that was it. I was stripped out of my life line and there was nothing I could do about it. All I had was her word that there was another life line mid-journey waiting for me.

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