Monday, March 01, 2010

A Long Way Down the Road

Waiting It Out
Waiting It Out
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
"Are we there yet?"

This isn't the first time I've been asked this question during our long journey from La Paz to Auckland. The journey started at 08:30 Wednesday and concludes 17:00 Friday somewhere south of New Zealand's capital. Even though this family has been able to literally travel 1,000s of nautical miles without getting bored, you can't expect everyone to display the same creative thought processes while sitting on their ass in an airplane.

"No," I reply. "We are not there yet."

It feels like we are never going to arrive. We left Casa Buena in La Paz with Dario of Ballena early after a quick breakfast. It was almost heartbreaking listening to the morning net for the last time. It was more wrenching to chase kitty down and stuff her into her box. Box life, however, didn't last long. We climbed into the truck and headed off jammed cheek by jowl by whisker for a four hour drive to Cabo San Lucas Airport. It should have taken just under three, but we got lost. DrC detoured us briefly to Bahia de Los Muertos.

"I'm bored."

The plane left almost immediately from Cabo… since obviously we were late. We only paid an extra $USD300 for the bags and the cat. All in all, a bit less than I had anticipated. The first flight was a three hour American Airlines cattle call during which we were provided with absolutely no amenities. AA now charges $3 for a bag of airplane peanuts. While everyone was friendly at the airport, our stewardess was a first class snippy bitch, and it really sucks to not even get a pretzel for our troubles.

"Of course you are bored. Read a book."

"I read my book."

LAX would have been a five hour exercise in twiddling our thumbs except we had to take care of Dulci. We gave her a chance to do her kitty business first. Don't let anyone tell you LA doesn't have any grass. There is a lovely patch of fake Dog Park grass next to the terminal. Dulci didn't particularly like it, however, and chose to cross her legs until we walked her over to the scrabbly bushes away from the dog smell. I then hustled her off in a cab to Alaska Airlines cargo where I said a tearful goodbye. Then it was back to the terminal… two miles on foot. The walking actually felt good, but as I was a bit pressed for time and starving, it made me more than a little bit cranky.

"Read another one."

"I don't have another one."

We had a really nice but absurdly expensive dinner at the airport in Los Angeles. The food was expensive… the beers were $9.40 each. What the pho? Unbelievable. Fortunately, we were paying in miscellaneous US change that we'd somehow accumulated over the years. Nearly 20 pounds and $70 of it. I'm sure the waitstaff were cursing us as we left, but there you go. It was time to climb on to our VAustralia Airbus where we were finally treated like customers rather than cargo. We were fed and watered… the first alcoholic beverage is free… and made as comfortable as possible for the 13 hour flight.

"Watch a movie."

"I've already watched three movies. I don't want to watch a movie."

This is a plausible claim. The international Airbus trips offer modern interactive entertainment systems which are really quite amazing. There were literally 100s of movies, TV shows and documentaries to choose from. I started with intellectually stimulating bits about the oceans, New Zealand, and international relations then moved on to a nicely acted chick flick. Then, as my brains leaked out my ears and my soul trailed increasingly far behind the plane, I switched to Harry Potter. This proved too intellectually challenging so I switched to the hopelessly nonsensical and plotless Transformers 2.

I take a deep breath, "Play a game."

"Will you play chess with me?"

DrC and Friend
DrC and Friend
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
We transferred in Sydney from VAustralia to Emirates. Emirates perks are even more pleasant and thorough than VAustralia. I can recommend without any reservation Emirates and will actively try to get booked on Virgin, Virgin affiliates and Emirates flights in the future. If at all possible, I will never take another US carrier anywhere in the world again. On our giganormous Airbus 380 Emirates, the food was outstanding, the service friendly and helpful, and the liquor altogether free. I know you are not supposed to drink, but we had a nice red wine with our chicken korma anyway. Screw it.

"I can't play chess. My brain is numb. Challenge Jaime to game of Pong, why don't you?" Having absolutely had it, I turn to look my seatmate directly in the eye and say in my most matronly, unequivocal mommy voice, "Now shut up. I mean it, Dean. Just shut up. Your boredom is not my problem."


judith said...

great post!

Jim and Heather on Meerkat said...

Ha ha ha!! OMG... I miss you.

Behan said...

I'd be laughing out loud if everyond on the boat wasn't sleeping, so it came out more like a stifled snort. Priceless, Toast.

Anonymous said...

Very nice. Send it to a travel mag.

Bethany said...

Welcome to NZ!!

inklenaomi said...

I've travelled with that family...