Dave and I do not travel well together. We would NOT do well on Amazing Race. Well, maybe we would do okay, but we would definitely end up divorced afterwards. And I think it’s not only important to know that, but it’s also okay to admit it.
When I say we don’t travel well together, though, it’s less about the arguements (and name-calling and crying and shouting) that would arise should we participate on Amazing Race, and more about the fact that together, we seem to have really bad luck at airports. Yesterday, for example. I started Wednesday out by making a list so we didn’t forget anything. I was very proud of myself for being so prepared and organized. I wrote out all the notes to my maid, called and booked a taxi for 4am (well, I had someone who spoke much better Spanish than me do it- thanks Darryl!), and started packing. When Dave came home, we packed the rest of our stuff and did all those little things that we usually put off until the morning before we go, and went to bed. The alarm was set for 3am, taxi at 4am (even confirmed), airport by 4:30, flight at 7:15am- no problems, right? Wrong.
First, the alarm went off. But apparently at 3am, the radio station plays some delightfully quiet eveator music that no one can hear over the fan in their room. So we woke up at 3:48am, with a giant curse word being the first thing out of my mouth. We rushed around like crazy people, brushing teeth, scaring the dogs and generally resembling headless chickens. The taxi was already outside so we practically threw ourselves out the door, sweating all the way. I didn’t get to hug my puppies goodbye (the maid is staying at our house with her kiddos all summer- they’ll be fine) so I was a little sad.
But alas, we were on our way! We made it to the airport in record time and it was practically deserted at 4:30am. We filled out the endless exit/customs forms and made our way straight to an agent… only to be asked if Dave had filled out his form. “What form?” I asked in my cute little Southern accent which was emerging of its’ own accord, knowing we were just hours from being home. “The ESTA. Online,” the agent replies, kindly. “Uh, no. I didn’t see anything anywhere that told me we needed to fill out something,” I replied, still sweetly. It was a bit of a lie, though. At Christmas, a customs’ agent in Miami had mentioned the form. But he said it would be at least two years before it was required. Dave sporadically mentioned filling it out since then, but he never did and I wasn’t worried about it. After all, we had two years.
Apparently not. The guy says Dave can’t fly into the US without filling out this form. I asked, not-so-sweetly now, all traces of Southern-belle quickly fading, “Where can he do that?” To which the agent replied, “I don’t know. We don’t have internet here.” “You don’t have internet here?” I practically screamed, incredulous. “In the airport?” He looked slightly startled and said, “Oh, no we have the internet in the airport, just not up here. But they won’t let you down into the gates without a ticket.” Teeth barred, I asked as politely as was still possible, “So.What.Do.We.Do?” To which we got the helpful response, “I dunno.” Thank you, helpful man.
I marched myself, my husband and our bags over to the security guy at the gates and told them our situation. He had to ask someone else but eventually they agreed to escort Dave down to the gates to the internet cafe. He was able to fill out the form and was back upstairs abotu 20 minutes later. During this time, I was making very stunted conversation with a very nice black police (he wasn’t black, but there are two types of police in Guate- the black-uniformed police tend to be a bit corrupt and scary; the green-uniformed police are nice and helpful). But this one was young and cute and very patient with my limited Spanish. We taught each other some phrases in our native languages and he asked if I had a sister and if she was beautiful. I said yes.
Back up at the counter, the new agent asked for Dave’s printout, proving that he had filled out the form. Dave looked shocked saying that nothing on the page said he needed print anything out. She said, “Sorry, he can’t fly unless he proves he’s filled it out.” I am, at this point, about to break down and cry. Luckily, right then, her boss came over and said that it sometimes takes 24-48 hours for the form to show up in the system, so it was okay. And she printed out our tickets, took our bags, and off we went.
If this were the first time something like this happened, I would not be so sure of our travel-demons. But it’s not the first time. And unfortunately, it probably won’t be the last.
(If you made it this far, I’m curious what you think of my writing style? Could you leave a little comment or two, maybe telling me if I give enough detail or too little? Does the story make sense? Did you skim? What could I do to make it better? Any editorial feedback is appreciated!)