Sunday, June 12, 2005

(Insert witty travel headline here) 

Day one of our Sauerkraut training

Y'know, one common theme I've encountered in my readings about living abroad (travelling, too) is to be flexible. In fact that's one of the things I expected to be discussed about during these two weeks. What I didn't expect was lab work the first day out.

The morning started fine. We got up way too early--it was "way too" since we stayed out late to catch Balkanarama at Georgia's--and headed off to the airport. The lines seemed rather long, but we realized that this was the first time in a few years that we've flown on a weekend. We didn't book our own flight and neglected to secure seat assignments. (I thought about it briefly on Saturday, but iCab didn't like the airline's website and I never got around to booting up the laptop.) The agent managed to get the girls adjoining seats, with Noodles and I planted separately elsewhere. We thought it was
chaka raka de--no big deal. The kids are of an age where they can sit responsibly by themselves. After we boarded but before we departed, a flight attendant came on the intercom and asked if anyone had lost a camera case. I briefly thought I should check with Bunnah, to whom I had delegated to carry on the camera. (My carry on was the laptop, don't ya know.) But I was pinned in at my window seat and since I didn't hear howls of dismay from row 23, I didn't bother to check.

Anyway, after a nice flight, Noodles and I hung out in our seats until our young'uns come forward. Bunnah, as you have guessed, did not have the camera. She thought that
we had it. We rushed forward to ask the flight attendant about the found camera. Predictably, she pointed out that she had announced it over the intercom. We quickly established that we had no interest in assessing blame and wanted to know whither to inquire about our camera. She sent us to the baggage claim office. We headed over there--Noodles upset, Poodlepums devastated, Bunnah quiet and myself copacetic. Of course, it was all my fault and I wasn't going to get angry with myself. I just kind of handed the case to Bunnah and didn't bother to tell her that it was supposed to be her responsibility to bring it along. Anyway, we went to the office and Noodles tried to explain the situation to the baggage dude. In a perfect world, I would have handled it, being of more rational mind, but Noodles finds it very theraputic to take charge and try to solve the problem when crises occur. Besides, I wasn't much help. I couldn't even remember what make of camera it was. (I'm pretty sure it began with a "T"...)

Meanwhile, while we are attempting to deal with lost and found paperwork, our bags arrive on the baggage carousel. Poodlepums lugged all of them off the belt. She also noticed that the one we call the Chinese suitcase had an open latch. We closed that and Noodles grabbed the side handle to drag it out to the pickup area. She grabbed it and the Chinese suitcase--the suitcase we had purchased in Guangzhou, China for 280 yuan after the handle broke on its predecessor--broke a handle. It also had a big dent on the side. This was
not being a good day. So in various states of negativity, we wandered out to door #5, where the van with "Sauerkrauts" written on the sides was waiting to pick us up.

Well, it was
supposed to be waiting. Maybe it had waited and the ever vigilant airport police had forced them to move on. So we waited instead. And waited. With a sense of deja vu, I went back into the terminal to call the number that we were supposed to call if the van wasn't there. Then I came back out because the number was a St. Louis cell phone number and I was too cheap to pay for a long distance call. After another 15 minutes or so, I stopped being so cheap. "Oh, yeah, sure," the voice on the other end said, "we must have missed you. We're heading back to pick up another load of passengers so we'll be there in about twenty minutes." So we waited. And waited. At one point I was lounging against our suitcases with both children leaning back against me. Finally after 45 minutes (or so) I spring for another call to offer to make our own way to the training site. It was then when I found out that the Twin Cities' airport has two terminals. While we were sitting at door five of the Humphrey terminal grumbling about the driver, he was sitting at door five of the Lindburgh terminal, probably grumbling about us. Oh, well. We missed the official registration time, but we did make dinner. Really can't complain if you make it by dinner.

Oh, yeah. Then there were all sorts of opening ceremonies and meet and greet type events. That was relatively boring, from a blogging standpoint. Well, I suppose I should mention that one dude has offered to give us some Mandarin lessons. sigh..... I know I'll appreciate it in a couple of months, but I was hoping to take break from that.