Some trips go without a hitch, others are a disaster.
When Patrick and I left in January to go see my mom we were optimistic that our trip would be as smooth as the one we took to Asia. There’s a saying in France, Les jours se suivent, mais ils ne se ressemblent pas. The days follow one another, but no two are alike. Well the same can be said about trips.
Patrick and I got to the airport with plenty of time to spare. We made our way slowly toward the ticket counter where we were stopped by security to answer a few questions. No problem, this was routine. When Patrick showed his French passport, they wanted to see his ESTA.
“We don’t need a visa to go to the States.” Patrick and I told them.
“No, but you do need an ESTA.” the security guy said.
Patrick and I looked at each other. “What’s an ESTA?”
How were we to know that travel to the US now requires a machine readable passport? The ESTA was so easy to do online, but without one we weren’t going anywhere. The problem was Patrick hadn’t renewed his American passport, but we hadn’t worried about it. We figured he would just use his French passport instead. It was a good thing he brought along his expired American passport because the people there were extremely understanding and helpful.
Long story short, they waivered the ESTA for him and let him fly on his expired American passport for one day. The only problem was, by the time we got all that straightened out, we had missed our flight from Paris to Pittsburgh via Philadelphia. The airline personnel at American were as nice as could be and they got us on a flight heading to Dallas instead with a connection to Pittsburgh.
When we arrived in Dallas, we went through customs and no surprise Patrick was stopped for flying on an expired passport. He was carted off to one of the offices and I followed. When we explained the entire situation, they weren’t too happy, but they let us go with a warning to Patrick.
“You need to get your US passport renewed ASAP! Understand?”
Yes siree, Bob, that was the first thing we were going to do once we got to Pittsburgh. I passed through security without a hitch, but for some reason Patrick set off the alarm and was subject to a pat down. I waited on the other side and decided to go sit down and wait.
Wouldn’t you know, I bent down to tie my snow boots and when I looked up Patrick was gone. I went over to security and was told he left. I looked everywhere for him, but he had disappeared. According to Patrick, he didn’t see me bent over tying my shoe laces, so he assumed I went running to the gate to let them know he was on his way.
No, our smart phones were of no service to us, as I had tried calling him without any luck. If you know the DFW airport, you know you have to take a train to get from an international gate to a domestic one. After walking all over the place without finding him, I left for the connecting gate.
Patrick who hadn’t seen me at the gate took the train back to where I was so we kept crisscrossing one another on the trains. Bottom line, we missed our connecting flight out of Dallas. Again the employees at American were helpful and they placed us on the first flight leaving for Pittsburgh early the next day.
The way things were going, we weren’t about to take any chances of going to a hotel and getting stuck in traffic the next morning. Oh no, we decided to camp out all night in front of our gate. We did go to TGIF and ordered a frozen margarita for me and a beer for Patrick and had something to eat. When we got back to our gate we saw a bunch of cots and blankets for people to sleep on, so we found ourselves a quiet corner and went to snooze. Sleep we did not.
The next day we finally arrived in Pittsburgh tired, but happy to be there. However, my luggage was nowhere to be found. When it was tracked, I was told my suitcase was still in Paris because we hadn’t gotten on the first flight we had been scheduled for. At least Patrick had his. Then too, we had left balmy Paris for the cold winter weather that is common in Pennyslvania in January. I got sick and ended up with a bad cold. Thankfully, I didn’t give to my mom, but I did give it to Patrick and then a few days later my brother Bob caught it as well. So our first week there was spent in bed and away from my mum so she wouldn’t get sick.
Patrick was scheduled to return to Paris before me. The day he was suppose to leave was the day the blizzard came through the Northeast and thousands of flights were cancelled. It was deja-vu all over again. There was no way he was going to fly from Pittsburgh to Philly and then on to Paris, but I finally managed to get him on a flight from (yes, you guessed it) Pittsburgh to Dallas and then on to Paris.
Maya Muses: Bottom line, 37 hrs for a 7 hour flight, 3 missed planes, 1 lost suitcase, and 1 lost husband for 2 hours. My return to Paris I’m happy to say was without hassle. Would I do it again the way it happened? You bet I would, the time I spent with my mum was priceless.