Tick Tick Tick

We woke up on Cinco de Mayo with not a ton left to do, but it still took a decent amount of time.  We had to toss all of the bedding, plus everything in the refrigerator.  Thankfully the trash bins weren’t very far outside the front gate, so even though it was a lot of trips, it wasn’t a huge ordeal.  We also had to clean up the house.  Manolo wasn’t thrilled when I told him the day before that we had to leave, but when he protested I more or less said “they won’t let us stay in the country, what do you want me to do?”  When he said we’d need to pay for the month, I told him no problem, to just keep the deposit.  After that, he didn’t seem so bothered. 

But we wanted to leave the house as spotless as possible so that he wouldn’t ask for more.  We decided to leave some stuff that we’d bought, such as the range extender for the wi-fi, the booze that Sandra didn’t take, the wheeled grocery cart that we’d bought (and used only once or twice, since usually we bought so little that carrying a bag was sufficient), and a bunch of kitchen stuff (various knives, openers, measuring cups, unopened spices, etc.).  After we cleaned everything to get it presentable (and very presentable for people who packed up in less than 24 hours), we took pictures to document its condition.  Manolo was due to show up around 10:00, but didn’t, so I just texted him the photos and told him where we were leaving the keys. It's a bummer that I never took any photos between when I first looked at the place and when we moved out, as I have no pictures of "home" besides the front yard, but it is what it is.

Charlotte was due to arrive at 11:00 to transport us and the dogs.  I’d seen her van back in January, and thought everything would fit without too much re-arranging, but wasn’t positive.  If anything, I thought we might be able to put the dogs in the same crate, then take the other crate apart to make it smaller.  She arrived right at 11:00, and I quickly started moving all the bags, dogs, crates outside the bungalow, outside the gate, and into the van.  It took longer to pack up the van than I expected, and while we had left a good amount of time to do whatever at the airport, once we left I was thinking we should have allowed for some more time.  We did have to disassemble one of the crates, but after that, everything was fine.  We gave Charlotte an un-opened bag of dog food, which she told us she’d donate to a local bulldog rescue.

And just like that, we left home.  It happened all so quickly, there really wasn’t any opportunity to reminisce, get emotional, etc.  Plus, there was still work to do, as until the dogs were on the plane, I wasn’t going to be too comfortable.  Charlotte drove us around the island, through the north coast, La Laguna, Santa Cruz, and then the south coast.  There was no traffic, as it was the middle of the day on a Wednesday.  When we arrived at TFS, it was quite windy outside.  I went to go get 3 luggage carts while Crystal and Charlotte took stuff out of the van and re-assembled the second crate.  People kept asking me for carts, and looked surprised when I told them I needed all 3.  Each dog got one cart, our checked luggage went on the third cart, and we wore our backpacks.

The check-in lines were pretty long, but there was a Star Alliance Gold line that was fairly short and we were able to get in that one, behind maybe 3-4 other groups.  When we got to the front, there was maybe 90 minutes before departure, which seemed more than enough, although again, I would’ve felt more comfortable with more.  The guy didn’t seem at all troubled we had dogs, and he found our reservation and excess baggage stuff, so that made my blood pressure drop a good amount.  But it immediately went back up when he said there was a slight problem that he needed to call about.  From hearing his side of the phone conversation, it had something to do with them charging us the wrong amount - too much, actually - for the dogs.  It took a long time to sort through, however, and required him to leave the podium to go make a call or meet with someone or something.  The people behind us were irked, we hoped not at us, as the time just kept ticking down. 

At a couple points in time I wanted to tell the guy to just take the extra money, that we needed to go.  On some of our trips over the years, we compared some of our nervy airline instances to the end of the movie Argo, but really none of them were.  This was much closer.  If, for whatever reason we couldn’t get on the plane, we had no home to go back to – we’d moved out and thrown away all our stuff.  It occurred to me that one of us should’ve gotten a ticket for a couple days later, and have the first person fly out with both the dogs.  That way, if something went wrong, we’d still have a house.  But Charlotte had indicated that it was one person per dog, so that wasn’t a possibility.  [In hindsight, I’m not sure if it actually is one person per pet, or whether one person can fly with two dogs.]  As the time kept going by at the check-in desk, I became more and more of a wreck, but didn’t want to scream or cry or any of the other things I felt like doing, fearing that would only make things more difficult.  I was messaging Charlotte back and forth, as she was kindly waiting for the “all clear” message from us.  I kept her updated as best as possible, but I didn’t know the full details myself.

Eventually, at 13:40, with departure set for 14:30, whatever problem there was got rectified, and the guy gave us our tickets and to wait to the side for someone to come by to escort us and the dogs to where they needed to go.  We apparently needed to go with the dogs to wherever they were going.  So we waited about 10 minutes, until 13:50, seeing all the lines all but disappear, and then a woman came.  We walked as briskly as possible, with carts with dog crates on them, seemingly from one side of the terminal to the other.  There was a separate security area, and we had to take an elevator down to a lower level.  The elevator wasn’t big enough for everyone, so Crystal went down with the woman, and I waited for the elevator to come back up.

When I got off the elevator, Crystal was running past me yelling for Lola.  Then I saw someone walk in from another direction with her.  Apparently there were very strict instructions on how to proceed.  The dogs had to go through a scanner, but not in their crates.  The crates had to go through a different scanner, not with the dogs.  So while Crystal was trying to put the crate through the scanner, Lola ran off.  Thankfully she came back quickly.  Once I was down there, we repeated things for Avon, which was easier since there was now two of us.  We were pretty flustered, and worried about how close we were cutting it, but eventually it all got sorted.  The language barrier with the employees didn’t help, but hand gestures made things a bit easier to comprehend.

After the dogs were back in their crates and on their way to the plane, we took the elevator upstairs (together) and started hauling ass back across the terminal to go through security ourselves.  It was now less than 30 minutes from the scheduled departure.  The check-in area was almost completely empty, and the screen said “final call.”  We got through security quickly – no one else was in line – and then ran some more to our gate.  The door to the gate was still open, and we ran all the way to the door.  We got on the plane, and all the storage space was full, so we were looking for areas where we could move some stuff around.  We were sweaty and stressed out and trying to get situated, and the Lufthansa people only cared about us putting on a different mask and kept pestering us; apparently the ones we were wearing wasn’t good enough for them.  I fought every urge to not yell at them, so as to not get kicked off the flight.

Finally seated, I was able to exhale.  I would’ve slumped, but the seats were so cramped I physically could not slump – my knees were right against the seat in front of me.  I don’t remember anything – not one thing – about the flight.  Apparently I texted Charlotte to let her know everyone got on the plane, but I don’t remember it.  Looking at the photos, we were on the right side of the plane, but I could’ve sworn we were on the left, so I really don’t remember anything, which is almost unheard of for me, at least when sober.  Also looking at the photos, we flew over some of the other islands on the way to Frankfurt, and saw a bunch of windsurfers just after we took off from TFS.  We landed in Frankfurt right around 20:00.  It was a lot different than January, as it was still light around 20:00, with sunset not until almost 21:00, whereas in January the sun set around 16:30.  The trees were green, and there was no snow or ice.

The inside of Terminal Z was pretty much the same, though – empty.  After getting off the plane, we apparently waited by the windows to see if we could see the dogs.  I say apparently because I don’t remember any of this either.  The photos clearly show the crates, but it’s not possible to make out the dogs inside.  After the dogs went off to their home for the night, we meandered around the terminal.  I don’t remember this either, as I thought we went straight to the hotel.  We apparently went into the Lufthansa lounge, which I also don’t remember.  I’m assuming all the stress and nerves and everything else just made me black out after I calmed down from everything that transpired at the Tenerife airport, which I still remember vividly months after the fact. Ironically, that's the part I wish I could forget.

Now resuming with what I remember, we eventually ended up in the hotel and checked in.  Thankfully we’d made reservations the day before, as there were quite a few people waiting for a room, our room.  They were hoping we wouldn’t show, as we were the last to check-in.  We were sorry, but not really sorry, to have dashed their hopes.  I told the person about the wi-fi issue I had in January, and he gave me a coupon for our next check-in, whenever that might be.  After checking in, we got some food and drinks from the vending machine, as that was the only option.  We made a car reservation for LAX, to drive us back to San Diego.  That was the one thing we hadn't done the day before, but seemed the least important. Because of all the shortages due to COVID, combined with life starting to return to normal in California, the van we rented cost more for just a few hours than it cost for us to fly the dogs from Tenerife to California.  Whatever, at least we’d managed to extricate the pups from the island that had been there home for the first part of 2021.

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