Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Gosh, this is nutty. I’m sitting here at an immaculately clean hostel in Sydney, AUS (notably different from many of the hostels I stayed in while backpacking Europe TEN years ago. TEN in all caps because I can’t believe its been that long and I am yet again, feeling like a grandma. No offense, Grandma P, because YOU RULE). All caps.

It’s been such a whirlwind. Going from living abroad somewhere and all that comes and goes with that – still very unique, and also some sort of structure and relaxation – to traveling, which is a constant flurry of movement and forward-thinking to the next destination. I had forgotten these characteristics of traveling from that stint ten years ago. And traveling in this way is both amazing but also has the recipe for total disaster. We’ve had incredible days driving up New Zealand’s west coast for the past week plus, and eating like a King and Queen in Wellington. I will get to that portion in a later post with pictures. Yesterday was one of those disaster moments.

We were up at 4am, which for anyone who doesn’t have kids is a brutal hour of the day, especially when its coupled with the intensity and flash thinking of getting out the door and getting to the airport on-time for a 6:30am flight. The day went something like this: Out the door five minutes late. Got lost on the way to the airport = Stressful in the car. But we found it! Yay! Happy again in the car. Get to the airport on-time, however a giant line brings the anxiety back to my stomach. We finally make it to the check-in counter cutting it close and the gal behind the counter isn’t in haste. She lets us know that we are WELL OVER the 20kilo/per person limit for our bags. Um, news to us that there is a limit on an INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT. (insert me marveling at how backpackers can actually travel these days – again there’s Gramdma talking about “these days” – because its just so insanely expensive to travel and get around in this day and age). The excess charge? Yep, that will be $300. The moment she decides to drop this bomb on us is also the moment that her boss comes over to freak out that we are not yet through security. “Open the gate!” She shouts. “We need an escort to get them through!” She shouts again. Meanwhile, gal behind the counter continues to fumble through charging us for the excess. This might have been a moment where she could’ve said, “You know what, its too late and there isn’t enough time. I’m not going to charge you.” But she didn’t. And this went on for like five more minutes of fumbling while her boss freaked out about us needing to get to the gate. Seriously. Insert rage and panic starting to boil up from within me.

After the $300 mess, we begin running through the airport with our escort who is getting us to the front of every line possible, including customs and security. At security we are rushed, rushed, rushed – “Leave your shoes on!” Needless to say we are both flagged to have a bag searched. I’m baffled, as I have no idea what could possibly be liquid in my things. …Except the really expensive bottle of wine I bought to bring back as a souvenir! EFF. How could I have not known it was in my carry-on? And the snotty woman asked me the same thing, which incidentally started the tears. And the tears came down with a furry. Bawling. It was all I needed to tip the scales of sadness and exhaustion. Again we begin to run. I’m crying the entire time I’m running while Tyson is carrying nearly all of my things and trying to tell me its going to be okay. Patience of a saint is all I have to say. We go down escalators and we board a small bus that drives for seemingly ten minutes across the tarmac. When we finally get to the staircase to board our plane I notice that I do not have the laptop I took out of my bag at security. Amid the rushing and wine-taking and tears, I have totally forgotten about my laptop. A piece of my world containing so many things that are important to me i.e. all of my New Zealand photos, the book I’m writing, important renter and work documents etcetera etcetera. And as if we needed any more bludgeoning, Tyson realizes he too has left his identical laptop at security. This time I do not cry and instead I go into preservation mode. We flag down a ground crew man and tell him of our crisis. He sort of shakes his head knowing we need to board the plane and that we are so far away from security having had to take the bus to get there in the first place. Reluctantly he gets on his radio asking if someone has found two laptops. All I can think is that I do not care if we have to board a later flight, I’m not leaving without my macbook. Not today. Not after the baggage charge and the wine and my tears.

Someone has them.

Someone is rushing them to the plane.

We board. I’ve started bawling again. I don’t know why. I’m an emotional mess. A flight attendant is shocked by this and gives me a hug meanwhile another flight attendant is politely asking Tyson if I’m ok.

Ten minutes later that same ground crew man boards the plane with our laptops in-hand and gives them to us saying “Merry Christmas”.

All before 6:30am.

Ahhh traveling. Happy stories and photos to come. I think I just needed to purge this experience from my brain to start new again here in AUS.


Jamieofalltrades said...

Oh ma word! I seriously had an anxiety attack from reading that and found a few tears in my eyes at the end. So happy you got those comps back. I would have died if you didn't. Here's to happy travels, you've paid your dues!

deb&greg said...

I just want to know what the first comment really has to say! Can anyone help? Mom

suzie said...

Oh Fran! That sounds incredibly stressful. I understand the tears! I know exciting times are ahead.. I'm sitting here on my couch watching Blues Clues (well, I'm not watching!) while you and Tyson are across the world on an incredible adventure, hopefully on a nice warm beach! I'm watching for pictures and stories..

Angel said...

God how awful, I hate early stressful mornings:) Hope you're feeling better and have a great remainder of your trip. At least you got your computers back - had the airport employees not been rude and rushing you like crazy none of that would've had to happen. Best to both of you, be safe:)

Erin said...

Holy Schnikes! Let the tears flow girl, because that is a full on catastrophe! That Tyson sure is a keeper. I think he and Danny must have achieved full on Yoda status with their patience. Miss you and can't wait to give you a much deserved hug! xo

Lindsay said...

Holy shit that just stressed me out! Sigh. Sounds like it was a well needed purge however. ;)

Miss you come home soon. I love you!


tfletcher said...

Hi Andrea, I'm recruiter from Seattle. I gather from your blog that you are currently out of the country, (p.s. Love your pics!).

I have several contract opportunities within an interactive agency in Seattle. I need a Project Manager who has managed web development or advertising projects.

I was wondering if you had relocated permanently, or if you might be back in Seattle sometime soon? Please feel free to email me if you're interested, thanks!

Tiffany Fletcher