Saturday, July 20, 2013

Getting There

Well, as always seems with my travels, our trip started off as quite an adventure.  About eight minutes before we arrived at Dulles Airport in DC (remembering that we live about three hours away in Philadelphia) I realized that I had left my old passport at home.  I had my valid passport with my married name, but had failed to realize that my visa was in my old passport!  Landry called his friend who is watching our house and he had to take a picture of the visa with his phone and email it to Landry’s sister.  We just hoped that the airline would allow me to board in Turkey without a valid visa in my passport.

The first leg of our trip was about ten hours long and we landed in Turkey around 4pm local time.  We only had about an hour once we had made it through the transit terminal and there were three things I wanted to try: Turkish coffee (as a shout out to Haifaa and Bahjat), apple tea, and ice cream.  Since we were in such a rush and didn’t know how far we had to walk to get to our gate we passed the only place I saw to get ice cream.  I’ll have to save that and the apple tea for our flight back.  I ended up getting Turkish coffee and Landry got some really good baklava.  
Turkish coffee and baklava

This is what happens after you've already been flying for ten hours

Views of Istanbul from the airport

The line at our gate was crazy long and they weren’t even boarding yet, so we sat down and waited until the line had gone down to just a few people before getting up.  We were two of the last three people to board and sure enough, the agent at the gate told me that I couldn’t board the plane without a visa.  I explained to him that I had a valid visa, I had just forgotten my passport and that my sister-in-law would have my visa waiting for me when we landed in Gabon.  He argued back and forth with us for a while and then called his supervisor who, after several heart pounding minutes, agreed to put me on the plane after explaining that Gabon was not required to accept me and I may need to turn right around and head home.  Needless to say, I spent the next six and a half hour flight worrying about whether or not we’d get through customs in Gabon.

Enter Landry and the infinitely small community of Libreville (and when I say small, I mean that everyone seems to know everyone, despite hundreds of thousands of residents).  Before we even got completely off the plane he had run into two people he knew from high school, one of whom worked with security.  Landry explained the situation to him and he ran around the airport until he found a security officer that would help us.  The security officer escorted us past customs, sat me down on a bench, and had Landry go out to get the copy of my visa from his sister.  He came back with the copy and after much flipping through my passport, photocopies, and lectures about how complicated we had made things, my passport was stamped and we were in Gabon.

This is what you look like when you've forgotten the second most important document of your international travel :-(

Relief was very quickly replaced by frustration.  We had made it to Gabon, but once again our bags had not.  We landed at 2am on Friday….our bags will land at 2am on Monday…hopefully.  Thankfully, we packed everything we needed for the cultural wedding in our carry-on. I must say though, except for the bag issue, Turkish Airlines is awesome.  Free pillows, blankets, slippers, and travel kits, good movies, and free wine with dinner!

It’s been great being back.  We met our niece Lyn for the first time and we spent yesterday and this morning hanging out, helping to get ready for the wedding this afternoon.  More stories, I’m sure, to follow and definitely many pics!

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Just, wow. I can't believe.... Anyway, this was a good story.