One Wild Journey, One Crazy Couple, One Life to Live
I arrive to the Emirates check in desk in Dublin and search the faces of the attendants to determine who looks the most sympathetic. I spot a woman with a smile on her face and decide I will wait until her desk is free. I let several people go in front of me before I push my car-part laden cart forward as the man at her desk picks up his boarding pass and walks toward the departure gates. I smile as sweetly as I possibly can. She looks up at me and I can see the look of horror pass across her face. She sizes up my two large suitcases, two rucksacks and a dog box full of fragile car parts then looks me straight in the eye and says “do you know how much overweight charges are with Emirates”? My heart sinks. Of all the attendants, she looked to be my only hope of getting through without having to re-mortgage our house.
Earlier in the week, my husband and I provided Emilio, our VW car-part specialist in Dublin, with a hefty two-page list of parts that we would need before leaving Ireland for our last trip back to Afghanistan before the big adventure. This, we told him, was our last chance for parts, so we needed to make sure we could check them all off the list. He rose to the challenge and told us to leave it with him – he would do the best he could. He takes his job seriously, and we knew he would find what he could.
For a week in Cork we met with friends and family we had not seen for months. We attended the Christening of our nephew (who cried the whole way through upon mention that I would be his Godmother – who can blame him), dinners, lunches, brunches, and pub nights. We walked as much as we possibly could; having temporarily escaped from compound life where walking is a luxury. We shopped at all my favourite health food stores and stocked up on all of my allowable mobile convenience foods that will come in handy for the trip.
Two days before our flight, we called Emilio. He had almost all of the parts, bar a few that he had to ship in, so we arranged to meet him the next day.
We drove into the Rathangan countryside, where Emilio has set up his shop, and were greeted by his umpteen dogs. At first I thought I should be referring to Emilio as Leroy Brown! It turned out his dogs are as friendly as he is, but man, do they have a mean bark. To take him further from the Leroy Brown stereotype, Emilio’s place is anything but a junk yard. He may have what seems like hundreds of bugs parked everywhere, but each and every one of them glimmer with the new life he has to capacity to give them. He does amazing work and his passion for it is infectious. Emilio walked us through all of the parts and told us everything we would need to explain to Valon when we arrived in Afghanistan – all of which I promptly forgot.
We paid our bill and offered our never-ending gratitude to Emilio for going beyond the call of duty to gather all of our parts in an impossible period of time. As we slipped out the gate we retrieved our new door handles from the dog who had decided they were just as good a chew as a bone. Once we said our goodbyes, we sat in the car, looked at each other and said ‘how the hell are we going to get a car-load of parts onto the plane?!”
The night before leaving we bought bubble wrap, then more bubble wrap, plastic wrap and a dog box for packing the fragile parts. We packed, unpacked and repacked again. By the wee hours, we had everything as compact as possible. and I took one last read of my email before going to bed. In my inbox, I found a note from Valon saying: “sorry for my late reply; please find a list of other parts we will need”. I shut the computer with a sigh, knowing that even if we had that list of parts earlier, we would never have been able to fit them in. What we had would have to do.
I smile again at the lady at the counter and say as innocently as possible: but all of this is for charity“. She rolls her eyes, obviously having heard that story before. As she explains to me the cost per kilo for overweight luggage, she skims my ticket for my final destination. She looks up and says, “you’re going to Kabul!?” I nod slowly, realizing this may actually help my situation for once. She places the baggage stickers on our nearly 100 kgs worth of luggage and hands us our boarding passes while asking us to tell her all about the Kabul to Cork trip. At the same time I can hear the woman at the next counter charging a passenger for 2 kgs of overweight luggage. I fight the urge to hug our attendant – the one with the beautiful smile on her face.
Now, if we can only find the same kind of smile at the x-ray machine when we pass our car-part filled hand luggage through.