Jadzia awoke at 4:15 a.m. and she wasn’t bothered to be awake. She was very excited. “Today we’re going to Bolivia!”
I tried to get her to scarf down a pancake before my dad showed up to take us to the airport. (Thanks, Dad!) Yoli and I were awake and surprisingly functional considering we had been awake until about 2 a.m.
We were anticipating a difficult day ahead, what with a long layover and a long flight. What would the girls do? Would they lose their minds?
Turns out, we had the most trouble where we least expected to have it: right at the beginning.
The American Airlines ticket agent at Lambert was not familiar with how to issue an infant ticket. We were stuck at the counter for what seemed like forever. I watched as the minutes trickled by on my watch, helpless to do anything to improve the situation (though I was tempted to hop the counter and take a stab at their ticketing computer myself). It didn’t help when he asked a fellow agent “What time is it? I only have five minutes to get their luggage in or it will be too late.”
After that it was on to the security line, my perennial least favorite experience of all time. We had a lot of carry-ons. Some for the kids, one with food, and some with items we couldn’t afford to check and have lost. Plus we had the stroller. I think we had to push around eight of those plastic bins through the x-ray machine. And then the attendant asked me “Sir, can you tell me what these capsule-like things are in the bottom of your bag?” I had no idea what she was talking about. I guess she found the answer herself, because soon we made it through and were back to putting on our shoes and re-filling our bags.
It was a sprint to the gate, which wasn’t too far away. We breezed onto the airplane (that’s what happens when you’re almost the last one on) and found that it wasn’t very full. Score!
The flight to Miami was uneventful, but it was a milestone for Jadzia. She was old enough to really enjoy it, and since we were late she didn’t have to spend 15-20 minutes waiting around in her seat for all the flight action to begin.
Arriving in Miami was what I dreaded the most. How would we kill five hours there with no play area? Would we give in and pay $75 for access to the Admiral’s Club to escape MIA’s teeming masses?
Actually things worked amazingly well. Our flight to Santa Cruz was going to depart from gate D42, the very same gate we arrived at from St. Louis.
A quick bit of scouting revealed that gate D30 was under construction. A big wide area of seats (and electrical outlets) with hardly a soul. It was perfect area for us to set up shop. Ludi and Jadzia played a bit with the blocks we brought. They also played with Jadzia’s baby doll and the stroller. Ludi was constantly walking from the carpeted gate area out to the tiled main corridor where neverending hordes of travelers stampeded to their gates. I spent plenty of time corralling her. Anyway, gate D30 was a godsend.
Eventually we busted out the computer and a few DVDs. After that it was lunch time. We had promised Jadzia we would go to “a restaurant,” but most of MIA’s decent restaurants are outside the security zone.
During our five hours we made many, many circuits of the terminal. I took both Jadzia and Ludi at different times for more “scouting runs,” seeking better eatery options.
Ultimately we decided not to drag our luggage all the way out there and go through the security process all over again. There was a “food court” farther down the D concourse with a seating area, which made it restauranty enough to satisfy our promise. We had three empanadas (beef, chicken, and ham and cheese), some banana chips, and a turkey sandwich on a wheat kaiser roll.
Our flight to Bolivia was not much of a problem either. Jadzia was really really good on both flights. Ludi was very antsy, but she wasn’t screaming or crying. And thankfully the Santa Cruz flight was also pretty open, so we took up an entire row (six seats), which gave us plenty of elbow room.
Jadzia passed the time by doing “actividades” (activity books she got from her Nanny and Grandpa for her birthday), watching TV (but not really listening to it), and sleeping.
Unlike previous flights we have made to Bolivia, this one was nonstop to Santa Cruz. That was very nice, no wasted time in La Paz letting other people board.
We had no problems going through immigration. The girls entered as Bolivians thanks to their Bolivian consular birth certificates. My visa was in order, too, so it was all good.
It took a while to get all the luggage and make it through customs. After we did, we saw Yoli’s sister Lucy and her dad Don Hector waiting for us. It was about 10:30 or 10:45 p.m. at that point. We took all our stuff to a compact SUV where we found Lucy’s husband Juan, doing what I’d been looking forward to doing since I woke up at 4 in the morning: leaning back and snoring the night away.