Thanks to our eldest daughter, sitting on the other side of the globe, for her unintended title to this post. She was fully invested in our scramble to negotiate the rubix cube of covid international travel, with the global updates that change virtually every 24 hours. It’s safe to say that any international travel, at this time, is no picnic!
Who would ever have imagined that we would be “trapped” in the USA, after an incredible month of wrapping up our youngest daughter’s student athlete life, road tripping, adventuring, connecting with old friends and making new friends, that we would be “groundhog-day” at Chicago international airport?!
What would we have done without our angel, Julie who, unbelievably, dropped us off and bade us farewell THREE times over? We have been “touched by angels”, “surrounded by angels”, “blessed by angels”, more especially these past nine months of “homeless gap-adventuring” than ever before and for that, there are no words adequate to express our gratitude to each and every non-winged, halo-less, human angel that we are fortunate to call our family and friends.
So, back to the final leg of our adventure… All three of us, packed and ready to hit the home stretch – 4 large suitcases between us, along with our well travelled carry-ons, we managed to fit into Julie’s spacious American car (we love those when it comes to airport runs and house moves, right?) To think that our daughter managed to pack five years of university life into four large suitcases, is something to behold – neither an easy, nor desirable task. Thanks once again to angel Sherri for the loan of her large suitcase and to the many Goodwill Stores across America, where we found two other suitable cases for a song!
The thing with luggage is that it cannot be left alone whilst trying to negotiate travel drama, lest it be confiscated as “suspicious baggage” by airport security. Thankfully we were three so at least one of us was able to keep watch over the cases. Not so lucky for a fellow traveller trying to get onto the same flight as ours, second time UNlucky for us. I watched with mounting stress as the hapless woman was turned away from the check-in desk, a panicked, desperate look in her eye, phone glued to her ear as she frantically tried to arrange for her brother to get back to the international departures to reload her luggage and get her to a rapid PCR testing station, some 15 minutes drive away – the money-making cess pit that this covid virus has created is enough to make me want to rant on and on and ON!!!
I got to the woman and suggested that I watch her bags for her, since I was sitting with our mountain whilst we waited for our second set of covid tests to come though in time for check-in. Needless to say, they pinged into our inbox exactly one hour after our scheduled flight departure!
She dashed off to hail an Uber to get to the rapid test centre, leaving me to watch more of the same drama unfold around me – interesting places, international departure halls are…
Eventually, our attempts at being re-tested were foiled. Time had ticked by and the check-in closed on our second attempt at getting home. In dashed the breathless Irish lady, for whom I danced a happy jig, whilst I rushed her baggage trolley to the desk for her. Next flurry of repacking, re-arranging, and re-weighing ensued before she headed to the boarding gate and I headed to the oversized luggage belt on her behalf. I felt a real surge of victory with the last wave to the Irish lady: at least ONE of us had made it!
Thankfully, by our third farewell to Julie, our faces were fairly well known to the staff at Chicago International departures desk and, following our flurry of assistance to the Irish lady, we were on the “good list” for being properly helped when our turn rolled around. This time, all tests were positive (NEGATIVE), correct, valid and deemed good to GO!
Not so fast. All except ME!!! Why on earth? Well, as the holder of one dark green national passport only, I had completely overlooked the need for a visa to the UK in order to transit in Dublin, despite holding a valid Dutch residents permit – thanks Brexit, NOT!
Step in another “angel” in the form of the lovely Laura who promptly rattled her beautifully manicured nails across the keys on her computer keyboard and declared that I would be flying direct to Amsterdam on KLM, if I would kindly check in at the next door counter! Well, praise the Lord for these mercies!
Bummer that I had to wrap up our adventure alone, with a two hour wait at Schiphol for my travelling team to arrive via Dublin, but beyond grateful for the kindness of ALL persons involved in getting us home.
Home, it really was as, there to collect us, along with our many suitcases, was another angel, (also in a most conveniently large vehicle which is especially useful for airport runs and house moving) Jolien, wearing her signature red, wide smile and warm embrace – HAPPY SIGH!