Tuesday, May 06, 2008

flying dogs

flying back to the US from cotonou, i had a little extra baggage... her name was josie. her papers said she was a lab, but i'd never seen a lab look like josie before. she was born and raised in cotonou and belonged to a missionary family there. because dogs can't travel (with certain airlines) between may 15 and september 15, the price family (who departs benin after may 15) asked me to bring josie along. this is the story of our adventure together.

josie weighs about 23 kilos. she's really very sweet, though i've only been around her while drugged on sleeping pills (not me, the dog). when traveling internationally with a dog, there are all sorts of hoops to jump through. lucky for me, the prices did most of the hoop jumping. josies shots, papers, and even the little computer chip embedded in her shoulder... everything was meticulously cared for. all i had to do was get her from point A to point B. easy enough, right? eh... no.

it started with check in. the peeps in cotonou insisted that my luggage could only be checked to paris... not to dc. i said, "are you sure?" knowing they were wrong, but they thought they were right, so i let it slide. i was going to have to go through customs in paris anyway to take the dog out for a walk, what's a little luggage to keep me company?

i arrived in paris. i waited half an hour for josie to appear. in the mean time, i talked to the luggage peeps... three men eager to help. they said to leave my luggage with them while i walked the dog. "you sure?" "mais, oui! of course." ok.

josie and i got through customs and i took her out for a walk. she was very happy, though not as jumpy as i expected, feeling a bit groggy i suppose. we met a homeless man. there was no grass. she sniffed around for half a hour and was content to go back in her kennel. she even took two more sleeping pills without arguing. easy peasey.

we went back into the aiport, at which point i realized i was screwed. there was no way of getting back to those oh-so-helpful luggage men. i went to the airfrance counter to explain the situation and ask for help. they immediately said it was crazy that my luggage hadn't been checked all the way to dc. duh. no changing that detail though... so onto the next solution. airfrance lady told me to go to the next terminal, with josie, to check in again. and my luggage? she promised it would make it. ok.

i made it to the next terminal, that was easy enough, and found my place in the longest line ever. at this point i accepted the fact that i was likely not making my flight. oh well.

(side note: in my effort to make this experience less painful, i left one of my carry-on bags with my friend rhett, who happened to be flying with me from cotonou to dc. unfortunately for rhett, he was spot checked twice in my absence, both times insisting that the third bag belonged to his "wife" who just stepped out to walk the dog. rhett and i are not married, nor will we ever be (unless he finds jesus), but half of cotonou thinks we are, so he just ran with it.)

back to me. after half an hour of not moving in the longest line ever, i realized i was in the wrong line... so i found the right line and waited another 15 minutes before someone yelled, "passengers for dc?!" yes! that's me! i scooted to the front of check-in where i explained the entire situation to the lady behind the counter. thank God i speak french now. the lady said that the previous lady was crazy to send me on without my luggage. she also said cotonou peeps were crazy not to check my luggage all the way through. after establishing these truths (once again), she said she could get josie and me on the plane, but made no guarantees about my bags. good enough. i know people think the french are snobs, but this lady was a gem. 15 minutes later, i was racing through customs.

i ran to my gate and arrived just as they were shutting the door. i was the last person to board. i passed rhett while walking to my seat, at which point he said, "thank God!" (though he probably didn't really say that since he doesn't believe in God) and he filled me in on getting searched while carrying my luggage with "girlie" things inside.

i collapsed into my seat.

the funny thing is, josie didn't even pee in paris. she just wasn't feelin' it. maybe she was too sleepy.

1 comment:

Rhett Gurian said...

Lauren- Glad to see I got a shout out in your side note. You can be my pretend wife whenever you like...and I'll let you know if I ever find Jesus.