They Don’t Show This in the Pictures
Beautiful scenery. Awesome food. A passport full of stamps and adventure stories for days. Pictures of mountains, blue water and bluer skies. I has envisioned some ‘what-if’ scentroid but none like this. I mean, I knew traveling was going to bring some struggle. But the struggles I just faced in the past 36+ hours took the cake. I don’t even know where to begin so I’ll start with the end.
- ALWAYS pack extra clothing in carry-ons…just in case your luggage goes missing.
- Check and double check boarding gates…just in case the gate changes within the last 30-45 minutes.
- Pack better snacks…just in case you miss your flight and have to spend the next several hours searching for alternative routes. Donuts and Doritos are not it.
- Smile. Don’t cry…just in case it could always be worse.
I’m sure I can add to this list but those are the main ones I can focus on now that I’ve finally gotten some sleep.
Here’s how it all began…
Thursday morning, I woke up around 7 am and made my daily to-do list. I still haven’t broken that habit. I had three classes to teach, I needed to pack and clean, and I wanted to be out of the apartment by 4 pm. I really need to stop working on days of departure and arrival. I knew the three metro lines I needed to take to get to the airport and our flight from Madrid to Barcelona didn’t depart until 8:50 pm. From Barcelona we had a flight at 7:00 am to Fez. I still hadn’t figured out if we were going to tough it and sleep in the airport or find the air-rooms I had read about. Either way it went, the surrounding hotels were booked and I had not intentions of paying for a room and paying for transport to the room for a few hours in a bed.
We got to the airport with two hours to spare, so we ate. I checked our gate…J21. We sat in the play area where Jayla quickly made a friend and around 7:40 pm I told her we need to go to our gate because they were going to begin boarding at 8:20 pm. We sat down and played a few rounds of Uno. When I looked at my phone the time was 8:44. Why hadn’t we started boarding yet?
The gate had changed. We had missed our flight. There was nobody at the Vueling customer service counter. I damn near went into panic mode BUT I had to relax. I was finally able to speak to someone from Vueling..were they helpful? Not at all. That’s when all of the, “If onlys,” and the, “I should haves,” started running through my head. I purposely purchased the small carry-ons so I would always have our luggage and not pay the fee but when we checked in we were offered stowing for free. First ‘should have.’ I should have kept our luggage.
I needed to get to Barcelona by 5:00 am. That was all I knew. I tried the train. The next train left at 7:00 am. I tried the other airlines. Iberia had a flight to Tangier but it’s three hours away from Fez. ‘If only.” If only I had my luggage, I could go to Tangier and find new accommodations. Struck that down because my departure was still from Fez. Then I thought, maybe I can get from Tangier to Fez, it’s only 3.5 hours away but I didn’t know if there would be a train so that idea was out.
I got it, I could take a taxi. The first taxi driver said he’d do it for 650 Euros. Nope, that’s out too. Jayla says, “Mommy, can’t you just drive your own car?” BOOM! A rental.
Oh, let me add this to the LESSON LEARNED list…
5. Make sure they have automatic vehicles….just in case they primarily use manual and it cost WAY more for automatic.
I paid way more for a rental than I would ever pay but this was an emergency and about the same price as the two tickers would have been to Tangier. I told the representative I needed a GPS because as I’ve stated, my skills in directional coordination are lacking. Two hours later, after the missed flight, I’m sitting behind the wheel of a rented Dodge Ram trying to fight the panic. It was 11 pm. I was exhausted but still had a 5.5 hour drive ahead of me. I can’t even explain how empowered I felt driving through those countries in Spain. There I was, mostly likely to get lost even with a naviagtion system, and we made it to Barcelona at 5:05 am. Got through check-in by 5:35 am. Security control, 6:00 am. Second check point, 6:05 am.
I hauled ass to the screen to double check our gate. Our tickets said D11. The screen said check back in 30 minutes. 30 minutes for a flight that was supposed to board in 30 minutes. Oh well, there was a McDonalds and I was beyond hungry. I don’t even eat McDonalds but I did that day. The gate number eventually showed…D7.
We finally boarded and set off for our destination…Fez, Morocco.
I thought I’d sleep on the plane but once again, Jayla made a friend and they played with her My Little Pony toys the entire flight. When we did land I was so relieved BUT…
That’s when the next, ‘I almost broke down but I held it together,’ event took place….
The airline left our luggage in Barcelona.
Okay, when I was in the luggage claim office, I did lose it for a few minutes. ‘It’ being my sanity. Jayla was outside of the doors, sleep on her backpack and a blanket. I was in the room alone and I seriously considered buying two tickets back to the States. I had no idea what I had just gotten myself into. All of the superwoman, she-beast mode feelings I previously had were being washed away with my tears. Then I sucked it up, woke Jayla up, grabbed our backpacks, found a taxi (we were supposed to be picked up by a driver…He was going to have our names on a sign…so fancy) but we were three hours pass our original pick up time. Oh yeah, the arrival time was 8:00 am. We didn’t leave the airport until 10:30 am.
I put the luggage situation behind me. Eventually, I’ll get our luggage. I can buy something to wear in the meantime. The adventure continues. Now, at this point, I thought, okay, that is behind me. I’m going to find this room, eat something, and go to sleep. That didn’t happen. The taxi driver, after damn near killing us, that man honked his way down the street, and slid past other drivers like he was the only driver, let us out at an entrance. He told me to walk all the way down and turn right. Got it!
After two hours of lefts and rights and several people trying to help we finally found the AirBnB. We ate. We slept.
I will have the pictures with the beautiful scenery and the great food. I will smile and pose. I will still see the blue water and bluer skies. I will take these experiences and learn these lessons. I will continue this journey.