Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Dear Minnesota, Let us go already.

The "quick trip" to MN has turned into somewhat of a new all-time-record-travel-nightmare . Being competitive by nature at least I can say, "this is the LONGEST it ever took me to return to Haiti." Not sure there is really any true victory in that, but whatever.

Attempt one to go home looked like this:
Flight from Minneapolis to Chicago first. All morning flights to Chicago were cancelled . Still don't know why. They rerouted us through Dallas. We took one look at the connection time they were asking us to make to Miami and frowned upon their Dallas plan. We asked if we could start over again the next day. There ended up being great wisdom in that plan when we saw that the plane we were to be on, bound for Dallas at 1:25, did not actually leave until after 3:00 and that connection to Miami never would have happened.

Attempt two:
Wake up 4:20am. Declan starts mini-van, packs four 50 lb checked items and two heavy carry ons. Lisa has wisdom to check flight as we are walking out. Flight is delayed two hours. "Weather" - although it has not snowed in many hours. Call AA. Ask them if we can still attempt to make our connection to Haiti, knowing what we know about AA flight 803 ... (that flight has left on time once in the history of the universe - okay, maybe twice) ... We ask if we can try to make that connection anyway. Lady on phone says sure, try it. We go back to sleep one hour. Wake up. Go to airport with 280 pounds of luggage spread between six bags, diaper bag, stroller, car seat. Our ride speeds off, thinking to himself, "good riddance to bad rubbish." And, "I thought they would NEVER leave!"

Get to counter. Lady says "Oh, you are not going to make the connection to Port au Prince." I say, "Yeah, but that flight is notoriously late and we think we can try." She says, "Well, based on the fact that you land one minute before that next flight is scheduled to take off, the system won't let me print boarding passes or assign seats so your seats might get taken by others who are at the gate on time." With that we asked for a moment to think through our options and compose ourselves.

All the options were ugly. Staying overnight in Miami meant reclaiming 280 lbs of luggage and getting it to a shuttle bus to a hotel with a baby, (that we pay for because weather is an act of God and not the airline.) We think it over, and over and over. Paige pushes hard to go to Miami. She wants to be home asap. Lydie fusses. I feel my head splitting open from sheer frustration and unfairness of it all. I think about the lameness of asking Declan to turn around and re-load us. AAAAGH. We make a few phone calls, think through the ramifications of each choice.

In the end, the overnight/hotel option in Miami is bad for many reasons because ... 1. Troy does not really have much ability to come get us the next morning in Port - he prefers we come in later in the day. 2. I L.O.A.T.H..E. the Miami airport. In my experience there, everyone working behind a counter is terribly hateful. They seem not to remember that their job is to put people on planes, cause they always seem put-off by anything resembling- PUTTING PEOPLE ON PLANES. I just cannot get my mind around checking all the luggage back in at the Miami counter. It is that whole - devil that you know vs. the devil that you don't thing. I know the Minneapolis drill. Not so much the Miami one. 3. The most hideous roach-infested hotels in Miami still want $125 plus 40% tax for a room.

Sooooo ... all of this is to say - for the sake of all that is good, all that is pure, all that is true in this world -- we better get home tomorrow.

In reality, my problems with travel ... or Minnesotas refusal to release us, or whatever it is that is happening --- All of it is not so bad. Poor Troy, Tess and Jen and the fabulous remaining five are missing us. Tess is wonder-mom but at this point --- that game is getting old I think. Jen is missing Paige in the clinic. Troy said "this is getting long." PLUS, a large team came in today and Jen and Tess were left to prepare tonight's dinner and do all the finishing preparations for said team.

Tess and Jen, You signed up for an entirely different gig than this one. Thanks for rallying. Thanks for helping. Thanks for doing what needs to be done. You are both uber wonderful and we are truly grateful for your presence at the mission. Without you, nobody eats. Without you, kids are left to fend for themselves. Without you, Troy goes bonkers from lack of adult conversation. Hang in there, we will be there soon ... with multiple varieties of chocolate to soothe your frazzled nerves.