Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Time I Compared the Airport to the Olympics

Traveling with a baby is like the Olympic Sprint event. You are going up against some really tough opponents but if you could be just a little faster, just one step ahead, and hold on for just a little bit longer, you will win.

I've done this.

Traveling with two babies is like the Olympic Marathon. There are many opponents. World-class opponents. You would be smart to think this one through, to steady yourself. Don't spend so much energy in the beginning because you have a long way to go. Pace yourself and you will be victorious.

I've done this too.

Traveling with two babies and two dogs is like the Olympic Decathalon event. You've gotta be good at everything, all at once. Be ready to jump far and jump high. Be prepared to make a mad dash and hurdle some sh*t. Everything and anything is possible. But if you could handle the pressure you will taste the sweet wine of victory.

I've done this as well.

There was actually even a time when our flight was delayed that Husband and I played Airport Olympics; climbing the stairs while timing each other, waiting for the escalator to be clear so that we could run up the down escalator while again timing each other, fast walking around a set row of seats, all while, you guessed it, timing each other.

But alas none of these events had prepared me for the most grueling of Olympic events: Traveling without a passport. The only opponent here is yourself.

And... check.

My grandmother had been having some health issues and we weren't sure how long we had left with her. If I waited for Christmas break on December 20, I might not make it back in time so I was leaving Dominican Republic a few weeks earlier than Husband with both kids to get home to NJ. I don't like the process of traveling all that much to begin with but doing this without Husband and with two kids was making it all the more daunting. Waiting to check in at the counter, I handed Husband the three passports to hold: daughter's, son's, and mine. I started to look through my purse for the other papers I needed.
"Where's your passport?" Husband asked.
"There," I responded, "I just gave them to you."
"No, your passport? It's not here," he informed.
I looked up confused. (Side note: Husband is an awful "looker." He will miss something right in front of his face as a regular occurence so I thought this was one of those moments) "Seriously, babe. I just gave you all the passports."
I took the passports from him and thumbed through them. It immediately hit me. The flashback of what happened:
The week before Husband needed our children's passports for some governmental paperwork that needed to be processed. He took out Santiago's U.S. passport and because Santiago was born in Dominican Republic he also took out his Dominican passport. He didn't need the Dominican passport but Husband brought it anyway. Here's what the passports look like when stacked on each other:

The week before was also Thanksgiving weekend. We were going away on Wednesday evening, coming back Sunday and I was flying out on Tuesday. I was packing up a family for two trips: one long weekend road trip and 6 weeks back in the states. It was a busy time.
I should have checked. I always check. And then I check again and recheck some more. And then one last time for good measure. I've gotten this neurotic behavior from my mother. But this time, I didn't. I didn't check at all. Insert slap forehead. This time I saw three passports on the table, counted three passengers that were traveling and packed the three passports without checking them. 
It wasn't until that moment that Husband questioned me that I realized the three passports I packed were daughter's passport and both of son's passports. Mine was still in the closet. In our bedroom. At home. In Zona Mirador Sur. At least 40 minutes away.

Husband was quick. Literally. He ran to the car and drove home as fast as the wheels on our Spacewagon would let him drive. But Santo Domingo traffic can compete in its own Olympic event so this was going to be close race.

In the meanwhile, I was going to pray that the attendant would let me check in without my passport. My prayers were answered in the form of Manuel, the most helpful airline representative an unprepared flyer could ask for. He calmed my nerves, checked me in, even gave me a free bag. He asked me if I knew my passport number and then shrugged it off quickly thinking that's a silly question, who knows their passport number?

Me. I do. Yes, I know my passport number by heart. I have my license number memorized. I'm telling you this so you could understand that this is the kind of person I am. The kind of person who doesn't leave their passport at home.

The only thing left to do now was wait. Wait for Husband to return or wait for my flight to take off. Wait...

I tried to keep calm. Don't lose it. Breathe. You have been training for this. You are ready. Focus on the right now not the finish line. Be ready. Feed the kids. Take the kids' shoes off. Take off any jewelery that might beep through security. Security? Oh God. What a shit show that always is. Don't think about security. Stay focused. Stay calm. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Manuel said as long as I am making it through security by 2:30, I should be ok.

It was 2:30. Husband was close but still 10 minutes away. I was not where Manuel said I needed to be. I felt the tears rising. How much longer would I be able to keep myself together? Was I losing this?

Husband arrived. I met him at the curb, rushed through our goodbyes and made a ran for it like a Bolt. I started to crumble. I hadn't even been able to give Husband a proper goodbye. It would be 6 WEEKS until I saw him again and the last thing he saw was the rumpside of a crazed airpot athlete running off in the distance, an Olympic Sprint with two kids in tow.

The story gets hazy here, like Alice falling through the hole. Take two kids out of stroller - one of which can't walk... or stand. Fold stroller. Put everything on the conveyor belt. Walk through. Take everything off conveyor belt. Put shoes on. Throw kids in stroller. Arrive at Customs agent person who tells me that since I am not a resident and have been here passed the allowed time I have to pay the tax. Get out credit car. You don't take credit cards?!?! Cash? AMERICAN cash? What American cash? I don't live in AMERICA! Go to money exchange. Exchange pesos for dollars. Run back. Pay tax.

Run. Sprint. Faster. Harder. Hurdle. Arrive at gate. Flight delayed 30 minutes.

Victory. Is. Mine.

So, Expat Blog Challege Day 5, to finish your statement: I was at the airport and realized I didn't have my passport.

Thanks to In an Opal Hearted Country for the February Expat Blog Challenge opportunity.


  1. What a crazy story! It was stressing me out just reading it!

    1. tell me about it. i was sooooo stressed out waiting for HUsband to get there. looking at my watch. counting the minutes. looking at my watch. ugh. never again.

  2. Seriously nearly peed my pants thinking of Mike combatting Dominican traffic and hurdling things in house to get to passports and back in time. Man, this should be a beer commercial or something for sure. Like, "it's been a drink [beer, wine, whatever in large copious amounts] and watch [sports, project runway, old SNL videos from the *good* years, etc.]." Amazing you made it. Writing mine (for yesterday AND today....we all have our hurdles) tonight. Hugs and love. Miss DR so much it aches...... :S.

    1. hahaha, Kimi. yeah Dominican traffic is just something you have to know to understand like fog in Seattle or the magical taxis of Manhattan. And you're right... this would make for an amazing (SNL) commercial. can't wait to read yours.


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