Three airplanes, a bus, a lot of sweat, and a reward-churro later, we are in Spain! Rota, to be precise. It’s amazing here. The weather is gorgeous, the food has been great, there is wi-fi and beer in pretty much every business. Getting here was mostly not very stressful, although that could be attributed to the fact that I was running on fumes the whole time and partially catatonic. I left all the packing until the night before because I am a procrastinator and an optimist and an idiot. I was up until 3am, and only got August’s bag (mostly) packed. Hadn’t even touched my own. Praise our pastafarian overlords that my sister, Catie slept over, because she watched August the next morning while I packed the rest of our stuff (for three more hours??) and showered. The shower was very important to me, which showers usually aren’t. But I knew there was lots of running around with bags and a stroller and a few people sitting next to me on planes that wouldn’t respect my personal space between me and the next time I wouldn’t smell like stale Auntie Anne’s and someone else’s BO. So shower I did.
My mom drove us to the airport and came in with us until we went through security. This was extremely helpful, because we had two huge rolling suitcases, two carry-ons, a stroller, a diaper bag, and then that toddler of mine. We checked in and then ate some lunch together before saying goodbye right before the security line. August and I took a plane from Baltimore to Newark, which only lasted less than two hours and was pretty easy. I was shoving lollipops in his face because I was very panicked about his ears popping, but he was fine. I have an old iPod Touch that I have loaded up with some of the shows he likes, and some toddler apps, and he just played with that the whole flight. We got to the airport pretty early, and lucked out with there being a little playground-type thing near the gate with a bunch of transportation-themed structures that August climbed on until it was time to board. That did a great job of burning some excess energy and made it a little easier to get him to sit still in his seat. However, he started our first flight by playing a game I like to call “I Will Now Scream Lots of Times So Everyone Knows I Am Here.” I am sure our fellow travelers enjoyed that one. I know I did. After he got that out of his system, August was mega chill and it was a short, easy flight.
Once we got to Newark, we had a little bit of a layover between flights, but minutes-while-traveling are about a third as long as normal minutes, so what I thought was a nice chunk of time to relax and grab dinner turned into a mad-dash to get August some kind of food I knew he wouldn’t fight me over eating (questionable macaroni and cheese—always a hit) and then get him into an overnight diaper and pajamas before our plane flew away without us. I had limited food in my system at this point, but there wasn’t time to get myself any dinner, so I resigned myself to airplane food and was hopeful that August would be asleep by the time it was served.
We got on the plane and August was much less pleasant. Probably because he only had a sorta-nap that day, and probably because he was right in the window of Look How Awake I Am that turns him into a lunatic right before he crashes in his crib. I got him onto the plane and sat him in his seat. We were in a three-person row, with August at the window and me in the middle, and the lady in the aisle seat seemed none-to-pleased to have a baby neighbor. I totally get this. I do. Small kids on flights are unpredictable, and often loud, and often crying, and that sucks for people that are trying to sleep on a red-eye across the Atlantic. But guess what? This is no cake-walk for me, lady. I’ve got a diaper bag that I’m having a hard time shoving into the overhead bin, a backpack full of things I am hoping can keep my kid happy and a carry-on of things I am hoping can keep me happy that I’m trying to fit under the seat, a toddler I can’t convince to wear his seatbelt without him convincing anyone who can’t see us that I am beating him mercilessly, and I am running on empty. On top of that, I have a rude woman who, instead of offering a little bit of help to an obviously struggling fellow human, is expending all her energy on some impressive stink-eye. But hey, by the time I got everything situated and August and I in our seats, I turned to apologize for the commotion and saw that there was a different lady sitting beside me, and my old seat mate had changed seats. I was not sad.
It took about two hours to get August to fall asleep, and then I was free to eat some suspect “pasta and meatballs” while watching a couple episodes of Friends on my seat TV. TVs with On Demand videos on airplanes are the most genius things on the planet, and I hope whoever thought of it is very rich in both life experiences and dollah bills. I enjoyed some quiet time to myself before going to sleep. And by going to sleep I mean leaning over my sleeping child to protect him and distract me from some of the worst and most frequent turbulence I have ever experienced. I am not a good flyer. I have gotten better in recent years, but only marginally better. I never take off my seatbelt, because that is the moment I am sure the plane will plummet and I will hit the ceiling. I also keep myself purposely dehydrated so I don’t have to pee. So instead of sleeping, I spent the next six hours telling myself that I wasn’t going to die. When we landed in Madrid, I was both exhausted and elated and mostly happy that there was only one more plane.
Adam sent me an email ahead of time to tell me how to navigate the Madrid airport, because he said it had been a little difficult. We also weren’t taking this last flight on the same airline, and it had been booked separately, so we had to get our baggage and then check it for our next flight. Sweet shit on a ‘smore. While sitting on our plane at the gate, I slung the diaper bag over my shoulder, then put on the backpack, told August to hold onto his stuffed dog very tight, put my carry-on on my arm and held August in front of me. We got our stroller that we checked on the plane and ran to the baggage claim, finding out along the way that while we needed three elevators to get to the baggage claim, there was a total of one. Helpful people were helpful and helped me carry the stroller down the stairs. This was also while I was realizing just how difficult it was going to be to remember any Spanish I learned that would be useful in the moment. It wasn’t even until later that I realized that when I was asking people if they spoke English, I was actually saying “I speak English?”
We got to baggage claim and I grabbed our bags. There weren’t changing tables in the bathrooms, so I put a suitcase on either side of August and changed him on the ground, then the real fun began. I hooked my diaper bag to the stroller, shoved August’s dog underneath, buckled August in, put the backpack on, and put the straps of my carry-on around the handle of one of the two enormous rolling suitcases, and we were off. And I looked like a nutjob. Pulling a suitcase with either hand and my right arm outstretched so I could shove the stroller along in front of me. I had to get up one floor, then take a bus to another terminal. I was very happy to see an escalator/ramp type deal, and wheeled us on. Then I realized everything was heaving and on wheels and I wasn’t wide enough to block everything, and then August’s stroller wheel was catching on the curb of this whole thing, and I freaked out because we were going to fall back and then fall for eternity because we were on a giant inclined treadmill. I turned around and yelled “Help me, please!” to the person behind me, and this wonderful punk dude ran up and grabbed one of the suitcases and helped me up the rest of the way. He didn’t speak any English, and as I said, my Spanish was crap. We got to the next floor and I think he asked if we needed more help, but I thanked him and told him we were good.
I was wrong. It took us a while to find the bus, and I was again becoming hyper-aware of the shortened length of minutes-while-traveling. We didn’t have much time before our next flight. But hooray for everything, because the guy that helped us up the ramp (I will refer to him as SuperPunk from here) was waiting for the same bus. We figured out we were going to the same terminal, so SuperPunk helped us get on the bus and then stood with our bags so they didn’t fall over. He got us to our airline so we could check our bags, I said gracias a million times, and then told him again that we were good, which was true this time because I would just be pushing the stroller after this. We got checked in with 20 minutes until boarding, thanked the universe for family-priority at security because we were able to race on through, and got to the gate just as it was time to get on. Having subsisted on crackers since I wasn’t able to find us any breakfast yet, August was in a surprisingly good mood, and was great for this last flight that was taking us to Sevilla. We landed, found actual elevators, got our bags, and then came out a door with all these people waiting like in Love, Actually. And there was Adam! I felt like the cute little tree fairy boy that now plays Jojen Reed on Game of Thrones.
It hadn’t even been a full week since I had seen him, but I was so happy to be with my husband again, and very happy to hand him both suitcases. He was pretty relieved that we made it. August was sound asleep in the stroller. I was super jealous. We took a bus downtown and found some food. I ate the most delicious baguette with cured meat in my life, and am very happy that this is a “thing” in Spain, and then ate a chocolate churro as a reward for not ending the day lying down in a freezer with a toe-tag.
We took a two-hour bus to Rota, but not before the bus driver tried to drive off while Adam was still loading our stuff into the baggage compartment underneath. I always assumed STOP was a universal phrase. It is not. It does not become more universal if you scream it, either. I had a mini heart attack about ending up in a place I did not know, not being able to speak the language, having no idea where I was actually going, and with no way to contact Adam, because I kept yelling STOP THE BUS! MY HUSBAND! STOP THE BUS! And the bus was still moving. Then the bus stopped and Adam got on and we were good to go. I’m pretty sure I got my heart rate up enough to burn off most of that churro.
Anyways, that was our journey to Spain. I am thoroughly impressed and appreciative if you read this all the way through because this post is almost as long as the actual journey itself. We are currently renting an apartment, and Adam is working half-days while we are here. I’ll be writing more about what we are doing while we are here, and when we get home I will write a post about what worked and didn’t while traveling and while at our destination. If you’ve been to Spain, or traveled internationally with a toddler, I’d love to hear about it and I would especially love to pilfer any tips you may have. And just because, if anyone wants to throw any Spanishy (or not) recipes my way, we are cooking at the apartment a pretty good bit, and I’d love some ideas for what to make so it’s not Pasta Wednesday every night.