Carli and I are on a jaunt to Barcelona for a week in a rented apartment and then pick up The Liberty of the Seas to cruise for fourteen days. We stop at Cartagena, Malaga, Seville and then on to Las Canarias to visit Tenerife and Las Palmas before crossing the Atlantic to Ft. Lauderdale.
Our start is inauspicious. Our plane is more than an hour and a half late leaving Los Angeles. Immediately it’s obvious we’ll miss our connections from Madrid to Barcelona. Carli is booked in Business Class and I’m in the cheap seats so we are both sent to hang out in the First Class/Business Traveler’s lounge. Pretty cool, it’s a nice place with surprisingly good food and very pleasant attendants. After stuffing ourselves on Beef Bourguignon, cheeses and drinks, they call our flight.
Did I say we are traveling with a dog? Carli brought Baby, her companion/service dog.
Baby is a Chorgi, a Chihuahua-Corgi mix for you non-dog people. He’s about as mellow as they come and takes all adversity with aplomb. There is something about his big upright Corgi ears and greenish yellow eyes that instantly captivate everyone who meets him. He’s a true gentleman who looks up and submits graciously to ear rubs, neck scratches and compliments
Carli travels airports in a wheelchair. She’s piled high with Baby, his bed, bags, coat, carry-ons, and I’m schlepping along with a cart filled with our two carry-on bags, handbag, raincoats, neck pillow, books, computer…like that.
Almost at our gate, the cart I’m pushing falls backwards on me. The cart and I end up in a not-so-loving embrace as we sprawl ass over teakettle onto the marble floor. Ignominious. Embarrassed. Slightly in shock. I don’t seem to know how to get my various parts working well enough to get back up. Two men run to my rescue and manage to haul my unhelpful body upright. It must have been akin to trying to right a tipped cow. I thank them profusely. Did I say embarrassed? I limp my way along to the plane, bleeding a bit from one hand and decidedly sore in yet undiscovered places. Ouch!
Carli is delighted to see me moving. She watched the fall in horror and later tells me she thought we were off to the emergency room instead of on the plane.
I’m still groggy as an air hostess leads me to my seat where I paw around in my carry-on bag to find a book and instead find a fistful of some gucky stuff covering the interior contents of the bag. Some unknown thing has managed to squish itself out of its prior confinement when I fell on it. Very bad show indeed!
Face cream? No, too clear looking. Looks more like snot but clearer and cooler.
The Argon oil I bought at the book fair last week and just had to bring along? No, not oily enough.
I have nothing to clean the stuff off with, no tissues, not paper towels. I think of KY jelly. I know I certainly didn’t bring any of that. Through the crowd of eager passengers streaming aboard, I plead for papers towels and the Air Hostess passes along a handful of napkins. That’ll work.
I wipe off Frommer’s “Barcelona,” Dorling Kindersly’s “Spain” and Ursula K. Le Guin’s “Steering The Craft.” My computer case and handbag are covered with sticky goo and I’m stifling the urge to run off the plane and forget about the whole trip. Obviously Mercury is in retrograde and this is not the time to travel.
In my frantic muddling about in the goop in my bag, my seeking hand attaches to a very goopy baggie and there is the culprit—a tube of hair gel, colorless, thank the powers in the universe, that has no bottom. My landing on it must have blown it out, the force making sure that every object in the carry-on was thoroughly covered with the goop, yes, goop. Only slightly relieved I know it had no oil in and should wash off leaving no stain. A small comfort.
The ensuing flight is long. Cramped. Boring. Everything I managed to bruise in the fall starts to ache. My fingers hurt and my palm turns an alarming shade of blue; shortly the sore fingers considerately start to match. My friend Patria, who likes everything coordinated,would approve.
When I went to get out of my seat, my knee refuses to obey without some intense mental prodding. When it does move, it hurts like hell. One way to avoid the pain is to sleep, which I do for most of the trip.
In Madrid, we have a short time to make the next flight to Barcelona, missing the one we arranged for, of course. We are the last off the plane as Carli has to wait for her wheel chair attendant who turns out to be an adorable young guy who takes very seriously his job of herding old ladies around airports. He’s determined to get us to Barcelona and hassles the connection desk to get us on the next flight. It’s leaving in a few minutes. Running across the airport does little for my knee but we make the flight, stumble to our seats, the plane leaves the walkway to stop dead after rolling a few feet. We sit on the tarmac for close to an hour and I’m way back somewhere jammed in the middle seat. I don’t care. Next stop Barcelona. Trip over.
In Barcelona we claim three of our four checked bags; my large bag is the missing one. Of course. With all my clothes. For Barcelona. For a two week cruise. At the airport they said the suitcase would arrive the next morning. The baggage department fills out a claim form, they take the address where we are staying from our apartment confirmation which I underline and hand to the woman taking the information. She gives me a number to call to check on the bags arrival.
One of the first things on my list is to get a disposable rechargeable cell phone. By the time we reach the apartment it’s too late and all the stores are closed. The next day is Sunday. Have to wait until Monday. That will pose a problem as the woman at the baggage department is intent on insisting that I give her a contact phone number. I tell her we intend to get one. In the meantime, I figure I can rely on my computer and Skype.
We arrive at the apartment and are met by someone from the agency. The apartment is suitable but very oddly arranged with bizarre hallways, strange nooks one tiny bathroom, one normal one. Someone with not much design sense had a fling at the remodel. Oh well. We move in. I connect to the internet and call the baggage claim number to find out if the errant suitcase has arrived in Barcelona. The woman on the line tells me it’s arrived and will be delivered in the morning to the address I left.
The shower is not easy to crawl into but it feels wonderful after being in the same clothes for more than twenty four hours. I check out what’s in the small suitcase. One short and one long sleeve tee-shirt. Underwear. Two pairs of jeans. One is the wrong pair. I thought it was the comfortable pair when I packed it. Turned out it was the tight pair. Curses! I have makeup, medicine, toothbrush and toothpaste paste. I’ll survive. But I won’t look smart on the cruise in tight jeans and ugly sandals I wear for Tai Chi and walking. I mean really ugly. The kind you wear and hope your jeans or yoga pants hide them if you have to wear them in public. Comfortable, I’ll give them that…not great to wear on the cruise formal nights.
The next day the suitcase doesn’t arrive, but after half-dozen frantic calls, someone tells me that they had delivered it and it was accepted. Where? Who accepted it? She gives me the address. Down the street at the wrong number! She gives me the name, a boutique hotel. I call, they have it and can I come and pick it up? I’m so relieved I’m effusive with thanks both over the phone and when I walk a block to pick the suitcase up.
Carli and I celebrate by shopping for new shoes and letting out a sigh of relief. I know she didn’t want to listen to me complain about my missing case all the way across the Atlantic!