Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sorry... We´re here!

Sorry for the delay. Things have been a bit surreal and I was REALLY tired when we arrived. But we have arrived.

The flight here was interesting. We left on Fri, Sept 18 in the evening. The cats made it through security which was actually easier than the ticket counter (which brings me to another thought: why is it that airline counter staff seem not to be trained in anything outside of issuing a standard boarding pass and luggage tag? I don´t imagine that people fly with pets every day but surely it´s a relatively common occurance. It took 3 or 4 people to get our cats ticketed).

Mister did surprisingly well on the plane. For those of you who know our cats, you know that Mister is a bit of a crybaby. But he also accepts whatever fate is handed to him and as such acted like, "Oh, I guess I´m in a carrier now! Ok!" Shady, on the other hand, is a fighter. So even though she´s technically quieter than Mister in a moving vehicle, when she gets it into her head that she is going to escape, she is GOING to escape! We had several bouts of 10-15 minute fights with the carrier on the plane. Luckily the only thing at risk were my feet which were next to her soft-shell carrier and thus her claws.

The only real traumatic moment of the whole thing (if you put aside the emotional yuckiness of saying goodbye to so many people you love) occured around 2am (which by the way is both Chilean time and EDT at the moment). I was so exhausted that I actually fell asleep pretty well on the plane. That and I traded my usual red wine with dinner for a Tanqueray & ginger ale... Anyway, I was actually asleep when suddenly I was awakened by the sensation of falling dramatically. I clamored for my seatbelt as I lifted out of the chair en route to the ceiling. I had one on but I loosened it so that I could shift around while I slept. When I opened my eyes, it turned out that indeed, we were falling! That lasted for a second or two and then suddenly we were unfalling and headed up rapidly. Then another lurch that was so bad that I felt dizzy and people screamed and the cats must´ve been pasted to the ceilings of their carriers.

Turbulence. I have never felt it so bad. Gratefully it lasted for about a minute, maybe two, and the screaming was brief. But the next thing I noticed was that Nick wasn´t in his seat. I looked up, half expecting to see him pierced into the ceiling, but he wasn´t there either. He had gone to the bathroom and had the joy of experiencing the worst turbulence either of us had ever felt (and you know we are in the air a lot!) while peeing. Here I thought it was awful for me. I won´t go into details about it but I´m sure you can use your imagination......

So we did arrive, on time and everything. Customs was surprisingly easy to deal with. 10 or 15 minutes and we were through con gatos. And so here we are! We are staying at the Las Condes house until the apartment is ready. I had taken some pictures to share but the dolt that I am forgot to pack the proper USB cord for my camera, so I guess that will have to wait. Perhaps soon I´ll have a phone that can take some photos.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Surprises, surprises

In making a major life transition, such as getting married, moving or having a child, one must expect there to be at least a few bumps in the road. Unfortunately, they don't come with big "Warning! Speed bump ahead!!" signs posted along the way and so they catch you unawares. For us, one of those bumps came yesterday at the vet.

Moving a pet to another country is no small task. All countries require paperwork and shots, and most require quarantine. Luckily for the wee ones (and my psyche), Chile does not require quarantine. But we all know that the real work is in the paperwork, not the peaceful rest enjoyed inside a quarantine cage (taking a bit of license there...).

Yesterday was our final pre-trip exam, which was required within the last 15 days before travel. We contacted myriad sources to determine exactly what was needed and we were pretty sure we had all of our cats in a row, if you will. The first thing that happened when we walked in is a surprised inquiry: "Your flight is leaving Friday? You're too early! This has to be done within the last 24 hours." Blank stares. We have read about things to be done in the year leading up, things to be done in the two weeks leading up, but never did the phrase "last 24 hours" come into play. We went with our gut and said that we were pretty sure that within the last 15 days was the guideline, so let's go with it.

That was fine. But within the same breath, another exclamation: "Oh, this form has to be sent to Columbus!" What. "Is this the right form you need? If so, it needs to be certified in Columbus. There's NO WAY you'll get this back by Friday!"


At this point I started to get that dizzy-hot feeling that happens when your blood pressures rises higher than a sphygmomanometer can read. Fortunately for my vet, who shall remain nameless, I am incapable of freaking out at most people. But I do have to ask, HOW did this going to Columbus business never come up in the 47,000 discussions we had with the 3,500 people with whom we discussed moving our pets? And honestly, how did the Vet not even mention that when we were in 30 days ago for their rabies vaccinations and to discuss moving them?? How did none of this information appear anywhere??????

It doesn't matter. We had to get the certification. After consulting with several same-day courier services ($600 round-trip!), the office to see if overnight mail would be sufficient, and after crying for about 6 hours it became clear that there was only going to be one solution to this problem: I had to go to Columbus.

An impromptu, last-minute 6-hour road trip is approximately the last thing I needed this week. But this story has an incredible ending. My TOTALLY AWESOME Dad offered to do it for me. I am really bad at asking or accepting favors, let alone one that involves a same-day trip to Columbus. So it's been sort of difficult for me to get over feeling guilty about it, but I have to say it saved my butt. There is no way I would've been able to make that trip AND do the 465 things I had to do today. I am truly, truly grateful and indebted!