In the last year I’ve wondered whether or not I want to keep blogging. I don’t always have exciting or funny stories worth sharing, especially since I’m not actually that funny (at least not intentionally, according to my husband), and other times I just can’t find the energy or time. Earlier this summer I decided I did, if for no other reason than to share stories of our lives with the kids someday. So here we go, starting now and hopefully using some time this year to catch up on the 1.5 years I missed (thanks COVID).
Last week we were scheduled to return to Cairo after 6+ weeks of home leave in the US. A few hours into a pretty stressful morning at the airport, I texted my girlfriends to say “Hey! At least I’ll have something to blog about again!” A friend quickly reminded me to be careful what I wished for….and she was right.
It all started two days before our scheduled travel back to Cairo. Abby, JR and I were required to get COVID tested to go back. We used an urgent care one town over, one of the only places nearby that guaranteed results and a stamp in less than 24 hours. Egypt inexplicably requires a wet stamp or QR code, which is not standard in America. We did the nose swab – much more pleasant because they no longer try to reach your brain – and continued our day packing and preparing. That evening, Abby and JR’s results came back negative but mine were inconclusive. Awesome. First thing the next morning I called their office. The nurse was very helpful, she said the lab would run the results again but wouldn’t know the results until around 11am. Since we were less than 24 hours out from our departure, I had to find a backup plan.
We also had to return our rental car to the Akron Canton airport that morning, so we made our way there while I found a testing place about 30 minutes from Akron that offered results in less than an hour. After returning the car, we waited outside the other new testing place until 11am, when I heard from urgent care that my test was still inconclusive. I went into the testing place, took a second test, and quickly got my negative results – thank goodness!
After spending the morning running around, the afternoon was dedicated to more packing. William was missing his favorite new toy, so I was out in the garage searching my mom’s car for it when I saw my travel stroller in the corner. Here’s my inner monologue: “Oh! I would have completely forgotten about that, thank goodness I came out here. I’ll move it over to this pile….wait. Where is the other stroller? Where is the City Mini? No. No. NO!”
I went back in the house and asked my mom and JR if either of them had removed the City Mini stroller from the rental car we had just returned earlier that morning. Nope. And so, JR was off to the airport for the second time that day to retrieve it. Thankfully, the nice people at Enterprise were able to grab the stroller from their Lost & Found rather quickly.
Also yes, we still travel with multiple strollers. Come at me, bro.
The rest of the day passed without issue. I couldn’t sleep that night and dreaded my 4am alarm, but once we were up and moving I was ready. Except our transportation to Cleveland airport never showed up. They were supposed to come at 5:15 and JR started calling them about ten minutes later. The driver said he had a flat tire and was 40 minutes away. But during the next call 15 minutes later he said he was still 40 minutes away. Alarm bells were ringing. We quickly had to think of a Plan B in the likely event that the driver wasn’t going to make it on time.
My mom and I had the kids in her car driving to my grandma’s house on the other side of town to borrow her van. Keep in mind, it’s super early in the morning. It’s dark out, and my elderly grandma is sleeping. My mom and I are calling her repeatedly. We have a garage door opener to her house, but the door to get inside is locked and we know she sets the alarm. My mom is looking for keys get in the house (her copy was conveniently back at our house), but we’re also scared to use it even if we find it because the alarm will go off and it will probably scare the crap out of grandma. Eventually we decide to drive back to my mom’s house to get her key. Poor JR is just standing in the dark driveway with all of our luggage, pacing and waiting for someone to show up. Just as we drove away from her house, grandma called – she’s awake! So we rush back to her house, grab her van, call the driver who was still MIA and inform him his services won’t be needed anymore, go back to my mom’s to load the luggage, and race to the airport.
JR is reassuring me the whole drive. We have enough time, this is okay, just don’t get a speeding ticket. At the airport, I parked grandma’s van and then met everyone else at check in. We said a hasty goodbye to my mom and got in line to check-in. At the check-in counter, the United employee informed us that William’s passport didn’t have the required 6 months validity for travel to Egypt. He was about 20 days short. Mind you, it is 7am at this point. Our flight leaves at 8:35. The security line has grown alarmingly long and goes further than I can see. I am PANICKED. I started texting my coworkers, asking them to have someone from the travel office at the Embassy call me. I got a call from Susan, who worked some serious magic. She spoke to the gate agent, explained why this was all ok and not an issue, and then we just had to wait for the gate agent to get approval from her supervisor. The minutes were ticking by. I asked her if we were going to make the flight. She said she would get us to the front of the security line and we should be fine.
And she was right! After about 30 minutes at the counter, we were checked in and being ushered to security. We collected our things after the checkpoint and started husting to our gate which is always, without fail, the furthest gate from security. How is that possible? But we made it, even with a few minutes to spare, boarding the plane at 8:15. I’m dripping sweat, my heart is racing, and I am like, wow that was enough excitement for the month/year! We settled into our seats and I sent that fateful text to my girlfriends – “Hey! At least I’ll have something to blog about again!”
About 15 minutes later, the pilot came on the speaker and said we were experiencing a maintenance issue and would be slightly delayed. Because of course. I wasn’t too concerned because we had a full two hours to transfer in Dulles airport. Around 9, the pilot further explained the maintenance issue and said it could take some time (no specifics were given). He said anyone with a tight transfer in DC should get off the plane to speak to the United agents to rebook. JR and I discussed and felt like we still had time, even if it meant another race through the airport in Dulles. At 9:30, the pilot gave more details and said they needed to get a part from a different aircraft, install it, and then run through safety checks. I called Susan at the Embassy again – bless her – to talk through our options and we got off the plane. The kids were SO confused. Because our onward flight was Egypt Air, there wasn’t another flight from DC to Cairo until…two days later. Awesome.
After another hour plus of waiting and phone calls and lines and decisions and begging for our luggage to be taken off the plane (we got 8 out of 9 bags back, which is it’s own story), we found ourselves waiting outside the airport for my mom to pick us back up, a mere 5 hours after we had said a tearful goodbye.
We sure made the most of that extra 40ish hours in Ohio, redid our COVID tests (my third in 4 days – FUN!), said our goodbyes once more, and I’m happy to report that we are now back in Cairo! The second attempt two days later went much smoother than the first, with the only notable exception being William face-planting in the Cairo airport and having the worst nosebleed I can recall seeing. Blood EVERYWHERE and kids screaming going through customs. The perfect way to end about 24 hours of travel.
Now we’re recovering from jet lag and settling in for two more years in Egypt!