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Monday, July 1, 2013

Together again, gee it's good to be together again...

So I spent my blissful rejuvenating time in Peru and flew home alone to record rainfall in Seattle.

Mike was supposed to follow me a week or two later.

But he didn't. He stayed in Peru.

For two more months. The job really, really needed him.

So what could we do? What we did: at the end of those two months I packed three suitcases, found a house-sitter for the dog, and woke the kids up in the middle of the night.

"Thomas, it's time to get up."

"Noooo, it can't be."

But it was. Through SeaTac security at 4 am. On our way to Peru. As a family. For the summer.

Well, actually our summer, their winter. A shame to trade away the Northwest summer, the best part of the year, but being back together would be more than worth it. Kids grow too fast.

Both kids were looking forward to watching movies on the plane. That, at least, was tangible. Peru was too far away, only photographs and the vaguest idea of what it would be like to them.

I tantalised them with tales of daily ice cream, no rain, and a swimming pool. Theatre movies all summer long. As it turned out I kind of lied about all of those things, but it wasn't deliberate.

the ubiquitous ice cream dude. but not in winter.

Airport discussions are funny. For instance, Bethy mentioned that it was hard to hear her Gameboy. I suggested plugging in the earphones to hear it better.

"My Gameboy doesn't have earphones, Mom. It's from, like, the 90's."

This was better than the previous conversation during which Thomas informed me that dinosaurs walked the earth in 1984.

And when Jimmy Carter appeared on television? Forget explaining that.

On the plane we had been seated all over the place, but I managed to finagle us seats together after all. Thomas had brought his stuffed tigers, Hobbes and Hobbes' dad, Michael.

Michael Tiger started to yowl and paw at the window. Apparently it was his first time flying, and he was nervous.

Fortunately Thomas was the picture of confidence and talked him through it; "It's no big deal! The takeoff is my favorite part!" Once his tiger felt better, Thomas concentrated on his Bedazzled game, tap-tap-tapping on his screen which unfortunately is positioned on the back on the chair in the next row which irritated the woman in the seat in front of him to no end. Bethy was barely aware of anything, deep in her worship of the television god.

5 1/2 hours later we arrived in Atlanta, which Thomas was terribly disappointed to discover wasn't Peru, "What?! Another plane? Well, OK."

This second flight had us seated all over the place and nowhere near one another. I had gone online and done what I could, but begging and pleading had no effect at either the help desk or the boarding gate. We were in a sort of tic-tac-toe arrangement and Bethy was getting signs of anxiety. Wonderful.

I tried to join the "boarding early/ needing assistance line" and another woman got a bit passive-aggressive with me about it. The line was sort of fractured and scattery and made no sense, nor was it moving so I volunteered us pretty much at the front of it. That's where people with kids were supposed to go.

Behind me she said snippily "SOME of us think we should wait in line." At her shirtiness I turned and asked if she was waiting. She said "obviously". But are you boarding? "I'm first class," she asserted.

This character assessment was actually up for debate but as she hadn't answered my question and that's all I cared about I put a hand on her shoulder, smiled, and said, "are you trying to be difficult?"

My humor is apparently not for everyone. Maybe that Leffe Dark at ATL's Belgium Beer Cafe wasn't the best idea. I hadn't had one since Dubai...

No, it was a good idea.

I decided to escape onto the plane, as she was starting to swell like an overripe tomato and looked seconds away from slapping me. Ah well, everyone has their problems. The staff member at the gate grandly said, "of course you may board, now madam," to me when I made sure it was OK.

So there. I hope she heard him. "First class" my patootie.

Bethy was whimpering and showing signs of hyperventilating at having to sit among strangers. Thomas, on the other hand, was happy as a clam when I got him settled in his seat behind me on the aisle.

When the stewardess came on and said "Welcome to Delta flight number 0151 to Lima, Peru" he cheered, "YAY! That's where I'm going!" This made the passengers around him smile and I knew he was good to go.

The seat next to be remained empty, empty, empty. 10 minutes before departure I moved Bethy to it, and when the passenger who as supposed to sit there dashed up at the last moment they were more than happy to have her former seat further forward in the plane. You could see the tension drain out of Bethy.

happy kid

Thomas immediately began kicking the seat in front of him, which would be my seat.  5 1/2 hours later of that and I had some real sympathy for anyone who has to sit in front of him. It didn't bother me...but he's my kid. I'll have to have some sort of strategy to avert that for the flight home. Like a bulkhead seat. Or a half-straight jacket.

The lines at Immigration were unbelievable. At 11 pm with two kids this is not the kind of thing you want to see. But with two kids, you get pulled out of that line and into the "you don't have to wait" line by a nice man in a reflective safety jacket. It didn't hurt that both kids were cuddling stuffed animals.  Envious looks from fellow passengers. One woman with older kids asked how we got into the line and whether she could join it with her teenagers.

Er, not up to me; look for the yellow safety jacket man, I told her.

The kids nearly knocked Mike over when they saw him, screaming "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!"

In the darkened taxicab Bethy was concerned only with her Daddy, while Thomas was making observations. "Everywhere is Spanish, Mom." The signs, billboards and street signs and restaurant names were, indeed in Spanish.

Turning onto our street, the Malecón Cisneros, Thomas blurted out, "Palm trees! I remember those from Dubai!"

Apparently they also remembered the crazy driving, as neither of them even seemed to notice.

Admitted through the gate by a friendly guard, and up 13 floors in the very, very slow elevator deposited us and our luggage into our new home.

The kids liked the looks of it and so did I. Clean and spacious. Wood floors, simple furniture, soft beds, huge windows looking out over the Pacific, and the lighthouse just up the coast from us, all of Lima spreading out to the east. A calm sanctuary in a city of nearly 9 million people. A population comparable to that of New York City.

The children clambered into their beds, still in their clothes, and fell into deep, deep sleeps.

The next morning Thomas was clambering to go find some guinea pig (cuy) to eat, Bethy was making gagging noises at the idea, and I was realising that life would be business as usual, but with that Indiana Jones edge of exploration that we love.

together again

17 hours after landing Thomas said, "I was sick of Spanish. Spanish, Spanish, Spanish! But now I'm used to it." and Bethy rolled her eyes. Then she bounced around like the butterfly she is.

We made it through the day strictly on fumes, dashing across streets, getting minimal groceries and giving strict instructions about not getting run over or falling off the balcony, and for heaven's sake to watch out for the near-boiling water that comes out of the faucets and oh, yes, don't drink the water.

We didn't find any cuy for Thomas to eat that day. But we did secure a nice wine for Mom and Dad.


  1. I'm so happy for you that the whole family gets to be in on the adventure again. And, yes, at least a little bit jealous.

    1. Girl, I shop that aisle. I know exactly how you feel.

  2. I'm not sure how I managed to miss all these posts - my apologies! Loving hearing your travel stories. You are a brave, brave woman traveling with children. I have a similar (but sadder) story to tell of an extremely long transatlantic travel day with my kids (5 hour delay before a 7 hour flight, coupled with kids throwing up on the plane) where we were pulled out to the handicapped immigration and customs line because, I believe, we looked so pathetic :) Molly would have a very similar reaction to being separated from me on a plane - yay for passengers who are accomodating!

    1. Goodness! You win!! As for other passengers, is it just me? I love helping out people with kids on flights when I fly alone. Bet you do too. Thanks for the blog lovin'!