Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Three kids, Ten bags and a Dog

After nearly twenty-five years is the Developing World, I can remember some scary situations.  In the early 80's, the place my daughter took piano lessons was blown up by the PLO shortly after she had walked home; Laurie Berenson had her shoot-out/arrest in Lima, a couple of blocks away from us; my husband drove through an intersection in Colombo, Sri Lanka 7 minutes before the prime minister was blown exactly there; and my family had to be rescued by the marines in boats, out of our house during a cyclone flood in Colombo.  There were other tough adventures.  But hands down/no contest, the hardest thing ever for me was taking three little children on 30+ hour journeys in airplanes.

I did this several times.   There was the time when we boarded a plane in Oman, setting off on our journey, three children in tow.  Before we started,my son, age 2, turned and (accidentally)swooshed his cup of milk right into the stewardess's face.  Then, fifteen minutes into the flight, he went back to his window seat, pushed up my lunch tray, and changed the location of the lunch to the front of my chest. Then it was apparent that he wasn't well, and used up all but two of his diapers.  And this was the first 30 minutes, with at least 25 hours to go.

But the most amazing of all was the story of our trip from Maine to Lima Peru in 1994.  At the time, I was in Maine with the two boys, ages 11 and 7, and 3-year-old daughter.  We also had acquired a three month old lab puppy, Jenny.  My husband was going to move directly to Peru from the last post.  I was moving our stuff, ourselves, and our puppy on my own from Maine.

It started out smoothly.  We caravan ed to Bangor, Maine airport as I had three kids, 10 bags and a dog.  Jenny went off in the conveyor belt; the bags did too.  I felt liberated with only the kids.  We got down to Boston, changed terminals, got in line for our boarding passes to Florida.  As I stepped up to the counter the clerk said, "I wouldn't go to Florida if I were you.  Hurricane."   I looked at him.  "I have 3 kids, ten bags and a dog.  What would you do if you were me?"  "Stay in a hotel," was the answer.  Well that wasn't in the budget, so he told me I could apply for some kind of "mercy" flight back to Bangor.  We crossed to another terminal, had a conversation and got tickets back to Bangor.  Then they told me they had lost the dog.  Apparently a handler somewhere had let her out of her kennel.  In time they found the dog and brought her back up on the main floor where she promptly piddled because she apparently had a urinary infection.

Once in Peru, I collected beads like this Peruvian turquoise and these sterling silver beads
We flew back to Bangor.  A friend picked us up.   She generously let us all--sick puppy and all--stay with her as we had rented out our own cottage behind us.  Three days later we tried the whole thing again.  We made it to Boston, and then we made it to Florida.  When we got to Florida, I lined up to get my boarding pass.  The clerk said, "Sorry.  We are overbooked.  I don't have a boarding pass for you."    "That's impossible," I said.  "Do you know I have three kids, ten bags and a dog, and I started this voyage four days ago?" He shrugged.  I told my 11 year old, to hold on to both children, and I took the elevator up to the first class lounge.  I got in with my diplomatic passport, sat down next to a nice gentleman from Maine, and told him my story.  He went to the receptionist there and asked her if she could get us four boarding passes for that flight to Lima.  She printed them right out.  I thanked him,  returned to my children, and went to the (economy) lounge for boarding.    As soon as we were seated in the airplane, a voice from on high  said, " We are overbooked; we will pay $ 500 for each boarding pass .

On any other day I would have taken that offer.  But not on that day.  I had three kids, ten bags and a dog, and we were going to Peru.