Days 39 & 40 – The Long Way Home

So, it was time to go home. We’d had such an uneventful time in the sense that everything went smoothly throughout our time away. We hadn’t missed any trains or the like but it seems all of the close shaves were saved for the final day. We had packed everything on Sunday night, except for the clothes we wanted to wear home. The pack with all the dirty washing was left unsealed awaiting our pyjamas. We were allowing an hour and a quarter to drive to the airport. It was a miserable morning weather wise, raining and very windy. I had spare clothes for the plane for Matthew and Sophie in their carry on bags – that and lip balm were advice from my well travelled friend, Rhonda.
Our little car was packed to its max with the parcel shelf propped vertically between Matthew and Sophie in the back. We travelled for about half an hour with signs reassuring us we were on the road to the airport then there was a disturbing lack of signs for about 10 minutes and Chris had a hunch he’d taken a wrong turn. So I grabbed my phone and pulled up google maps. After I couldn’t really get that to be helpful Chris spotted a service station so thought he’d pull in to top up the rental car. I also grabbed the enormous paper map out of the boot. Chris was back in the car all too soon and said it wouldn’t accept our credit card. It was about 4.45 in the morning and the petrol station was unattended but the pumps will operate with a credit card. Not this time! Chris discovered, much later while we were at Paris airport, that it was actually my credit card he was trying to use with his pin. No wonder it didn’t work! Oh well, Europcar will fill it themselves and pass on the charge to us probably at a high rate but that’s not the only surprise they will get. After we did a U turn and ventured back to one of the main motorways Sophie gave the warning that she was going to be sick. She hates me telling people when she is car sick but I can’t leave out this episode.
We asked Matthew to undo Sophie’s seatbelt and asked Sophie to wind down her window. Chris suggested she lean her head out to vomit but Sophie started being a bit hysterical as the rainy wind gushed against her face and she was screaming that she didn’t want to fall out of the car. Meanwhile, I was scrounging in the car for a receptacle for her to vomit in but didn’t find anything in time so the car, and Sophie, were now covered in vomit. Poor Matthew normally bails out pretty quickly when we stop for these situations but there was nowhere to stop and it was too late now, plus we were cutting it fine to make it to the airport in time for our flight.
So on we drove and thankfully started seeing signs to the airport again. Chris pulled in to a drop off zone at the airport in a fair line of traffic and the kids and I piled out. Chris put the luggage on a trolley, I pulled out the spare clothes I had for Sophie, stripped her in the windy rain on the side of the road as she shivered and I managed to dress her and bag the pesky clothes and head towards the terminal while Chris returned the rental car. By now we were really cutting it fine. Looking like the Beverley Hillbillies with the trolley fully laden I went straight to an information desk. I told the girl we needed to be on the flight to Paris that was leaving at 6.15am. It was 5.53. The ticket said the final call would be at 5.55 and we hadn’t checked our luggage yet. I asked her which way to go and then couldn’t find my way through the crowds and the cordoned off snaking lines.
It was the end of a long weekend in France and it was Monday morning and a flight that would get business people to Paris in time for a nine o’clock meeting so it was very busy. The lovely lady I had spoken to was obviously watching me and came out and lead me to the front of a check in queue. I sent Matthew to stand at a point where I could see Chris and he would be able to see Chris coming. We have a bopping signal we do to find each other in crowds or in the bush so I deployed it. The trick is to stay looking nonchalant as you shape your lips ready to let out the bop then while everybody is looking around to see where the noise came from you just look like any other by stander. Well that’s the idea. Matthew responded by yelling out at me that he couldn’t see dad yet and he’d let me know when he could so stop hassling me! Sheesh! At some time he will realise that not every situation is always about him.
Anyway, Chris emerged as the check in guy was saying one suitcase was too heavy. So there I was unpacking things into my carry on pack and Chris joined in so we got the 27kg bag down to 22kg and the guy tagged them and sent us on. The next queue was hideously long. It was now after 6am and there was no way we’d make it if we joined the queue so I ducked under those cordoning off things and stood nonchalantly (I’m getting pretty good at that) at the front of the line to be next for hand luggage screening. I couldn’t explain really because I don’t speak French well enough to gain anybody’s sympathy so I said nothing and we moved forward to put our hand luggage on the conveyor thing. Great. Now all we’d have to do is run to the departure gate and hope they hadn’t closed the flight. Not quite! Matthew’s backpack was the source of scrutiny as it came out of the x-ray machine. The man started gingerly unpacking it, I took over and emptied it. It revealed the plasticine that Matthew had intended to use in case he needed any new models to finish that movie he started. The man said, “This is forbidden” and just like that it was no longer ours, I packed the backpack again and moved on to the walkthrough check. I beeped, twice. I had to stand astride while the lady frisked me then waved that wand thing all over me. I was feeling a giggle welling up inside because what else could happen on the way to the plane? It had been a string of unfortunate events and now we were really worried that the plane would be taxiing away without us but Chris was telling us to keep running because they’d wait for us otherwise they’d have to unload our luggage. So we made it! Right on 10 past 6. We made our way into the tunnel to find that it was a bit clogged with people so we were fine. More passengers even came to line up behind us. We went to our seats, sat down, relieved to be there, and waited for push back and waited and waited as we watched a few more people come onto the plane individually looking flustered but pretty happy at the same time. The plane ended up leaving 35 minutes behind schedule and from what we could make out from the announcements in French and muffled English translations we were delayed because of the time delays at the security checks and people’s luggage was on board so we were waiting for them. We are lucky we had a few hours to wait in Paris airport but others had missed connecting flights.
Anyway, it all worked out in the end and I’m typing this on our final leg of the journey somewhere between Singapore and Sydney.

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