Posts Tagged With: transportation

Charlotte, NC to Mwanza, TZ in 79 Hours

It’s been a week now since mom and I arrived back in Mwanza and it’s taken me that long to get over the stress and anxiety of our trip from, for lack of a better word, HELL.  And before I go any further, I’d just like to say that I seriously considered titling this post, “Turkish Airlines Sucks”, but decided to be a bit more eloquent and explain the situation…so here goes!

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I’d also like to say that Turkish Air has now supplanted Precision Air for the number one spot on my travel “potty” list.  FYI Turkish Air, you are not a REAL European airline if you are more afraid of a 7 kg dog than an 80 kg drunk, belligerent man, just saying.  But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Goodbye Charlotte (Mom informs me this is also the name of a whiny rock band)

Goodbye Charlotte! (Mom informs me this is also the name of a whiny rock band)

We left Charlotte, North Carolina on a Wednesday and flew on US Airways to Washington, DC (an airport I may have pooped in, oops).  For the record, US Airways is awesome for doggies.  The flight attendant was super nice and showed me and mom photos of her own little dachshund, who I must say was quite the cutie.  Based on our excellent treatment by all the US Airways people, mom and I had no idea the personal hell we were in for once we transferred to Turkish Air in Washington, DC.

Enjoying US Airways

Enjoying US Airways

Once in DC, the problems began.  It’s too painful to relive all the terror the Turkish Air people put mom and me through, so I’ll be brief in my description.  More or less, the flight attendants told mom that it was “impossible” (sounds like a Tanzanian talking to me, once again these phrases would not be uttered on a REAL European airline) to bring me on board even though I’m a service dog and have all the appropriate paperwork and even though mom had called and arranged everything with Turkish Air months in advance.

Rejecting a service animal? You should be ashamed of yourself, Turkish Air

Rejecting a service animal? You should be ashamed of yourself, Turkish Air

In the end, I was obviously allowed to fly because here I am writing from Tanzania, but it wasn’t before both me and mom were made to feel incredibly unwelcome on the 10-hour flight to Istanbul.  Luckily our seat mate was great and mom and him complained together about the rudeness of the Turkish Air flight attendants.

Once in Istanbul, me and mom figured everything would be smooth sailing because the people in DC assured us that they had put a special note on our file so we wouldn’t be treated so poorly on the next flight to Dar es Salaam.  But NO, of course this message did nothing to stop the idiocy of this pseudo-European airline.  We were treated even worse on the next flight and were almost kicked off to be stranded in Istanbul.

We finally arrived in Dar es Salaam, tired and nervous at 4:30 in the morning.  We were too late to try to fly to Mwanza so mom took a chance on a taxi driver who turned out to be our savior in this whole bad dream of an experience.  His name was Sham (even I get the irony of this) and he was truly amazing!  He drove us around Dar es Salaam for over an hour looking for a hotel that would accept us because I’m not exactly welcome in Tanzania.  Finally after trying at least 15 different hotels, we were welcomed into the Peacock Hotel and immediately fell onto the bed for an amazing sleep.

Beds are awesome

Beds are awesome

It took mom 2 full days in Dar es Salaam to arrange a way to get to Mwanza.  Because Precision Air is afraid of little dogs like me, I was forced to ride in cargo.  Luckily, I had no idea what this meant until it was actually happening, otherwise I never would have gotten myself into such a situation.

While we were waiting for what I thought was just another routine short flight, mom gave me a little treat, a bitter tasting pill, but I think anything mom gives me is a treat!  Before I knew it I was being shoved into a crate, in a bit of a haze, and was having a hard time keeping my eyes open.

Seriously guys, what's going on?

Seriously guys, what’s going on?

Next thing I know, a Tanzanian man is carrying me away from my teary-eyed mom and then she is gone and I’m alone in my tiny cage.  WHY?  After a while, I’m driven out to the airplane, still in my cage and placed in the bottom of the plane.  What the heck did I do to deserve this?  Luckily, mom came to check on me in the bottom of the plane.  Unfortunately she was just there to say hi and then they closed the hatch and I was all alone.

In cargo, on Precision Air, all alone

In cargo, on Precision Air, all alone

By this point, my eyes were heavy and all I could do was close them and pretend I was with mom in our bed back in Mwanza.  And you know what, it worked!  Next thing I knew, I was reunited with mom and Taxi Tito and we were on our way to our bed in Mwanza!  Hooray!  Best day in a LONG, LONG time!  And then it got better because I was reunited with our awesome house and my best friend Twiga and my girlfriend Miss Piggy.

Reunited with my awesome yard!

Reunited with my awesome yard!

Reunited with Twiga!

Reunited with Twiga!

Reunited with Miss Piggy!

Reunited with Miss Piggy!

Was it worth it?  Sure it was, but it could have been a lot easier.  Mom and I will have to figure out another way back when we head home in May…

An Addendum: Apparently mom and me are not the only travelers to suffer at the hands of Turkish Air.  See the blog post here and all the comments that follow.  Boycott Turkish Air!

http://blog.myletsadopt.com/2010/10/26/turkish-airlines-worlds-worst-airline-for-pets/

Boycott Turkish Air!

Boycott Turkish Air!

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Journey to America, Part II

Mom declared it a computer-free Christmas so I haven’t been able to finish telling you about my journey until now, so here’s the rest of the story about how I ended up in the frozen tundra of Upstate New York.

Here’s what my looooong trip looked like from Nairobi to Amsterdam to Detroit to Syracuse to Seneca Castle:

NBO to AMS to DTW to SYR to COLD

NBO to AMS to DTW to SYR to COLD

We spent the day of December 19th hanging out in Nairobi.  I want to re-iterate how super awesome the people are at the Nairobi Hilton!  Every single person knew my name and loved on me like you wouldn’t believe.  To all my East African canine travelers, stay there next time you’re in town!

Throughout the day I alternated between walks around the city (to a chorus of “he’s so cute”) and napping on the couch until it was time to get back in the car and head to the airport.

Napping

Napping

Nairobi

Nairobi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7:05 pm

We’re in the car headed to the airport in Nairobi.  I can hear mom’s heart beating and because I’m her therapist I know she’s nervous.  I’m pretty sure it’s my fault.  We’ve got a really long trip ahead of us and I know she’s nervous that something will go wrong with me.  I try to reassure her.  I know that I’ll bark and bite (just kidding, I don’t bite) my way through any problem and that eventually we’ll get to where we need to be.

Mom’s carrying me in my custom-made African dog sling so we’re looking super stylish when we arrive at the airport.

Slinging around

Slinging around

 

8:04 pm

We enter the airport and go through the first of many “security checks”.  The people want to know what I’m doing there, but mom just ignores them because she knows they won’t understand.  At the check-in counter we’re told that we have to go see the manager even though mom confirmed me on the flight months ago with Delta.  Oh Africa, when will you ever understand the awesomeness of the dog?

We spent almost 45 minutes with the manager explaining what I do and showing him all my paperwork.  When he was finally satisfied, we were released and allowed to check our bags.  We still had more than 2 hours before the flight so mom wanted to take me outside for a potty-break since I’d be forced to hold it for a really long time once we were inside.

As we tried to leave the airport the Security man asked if there was a problem and mom told him she was taking me to the bathroom.  The man said, “but there’s a bathroom just over there” and pointed to the human women’s bathroom.  What a dummy!  First, I’m not a human and second, I’m not a woman.  Mom laughed and explained that I didn’t use a toilet, and that I needed to be OUTSIDE to do my business.  I guess I should come with a sheet of instructions to hand out to people in Africa!

10:34 pm

We’re finally on the plane!  When our seat-mate came, mom said, “I hope you don’t mind dogs” to which he replied, “They’re not my favorite”.  But let me tell you, I won that man over like nobody’s business and had my head in his lap by the end of the trip.  In fact, mom asked him if he was now a dog lover and he said that yes, he was, as long as they were all like me!

Also, a big shout-out to the KLM flight crew.  They were so nice and made sure that I had lots of water so I wouldn’t get dehydrated on the 9 hour flight from Nairobi to Amsterdam.

On the KLM plane to Amsterdam with my new friend in the background

On the KLM plane to Amsterdam with my new friend in the background

 

6:19 am

We’re in Amsterdam!  We don’t have much time here so we go straight to the gate for our flight to Detroit  I’m a little embarrassed to say that I had to go potty so bad that I tinkled on the floor and they made mom clean it up with the only thing she had available: her scarf.  Sorry mom!

In Amsterdam. More waiting.

In Amsterdam. More waiting.

 

8:35 am

And we’re on yet another plane. Our seat-mate this time is a dog-lover and he’s also from Upstate New York just like mom and me.  He doesn’t mind when I snuggle up against him and sleep the 9 hours between Amsterdam and Detroit.

AMS to DTW on Delta

On the Delta plane to Detroit

 

11:03 am

We’re back in America!  We have to wait in a long line to actually get into the country.  Lucky for me theres’s a rug that looks like gravel so when I stealth-pee no one can tell and I don’t get in trouble.  (And even if someone did see, I dare them to hold all that fluid in for more than 9 hours.  Humans are lucky because they can get up and go to the bathroom anytime they want on an airplane, but us dogs, we’ve got to be strong!)

After getting through customs, we get our bags and a nice man looks at my papers and writes DOG OK on a form and we’re off to yet another gate to wait for yet another plane.

There’s a bit of culture-shock in store for me in this Detroit airport.   First, there are these scary moving stairs thingies so mom puts me in my sling so I don’t have to figure out how they work.

Moving stairs = scary

Moving stairs = scary

Then we enter a colorful hallway with a moving sidewalk!  Can your imagine, Americans are so lazy they need their sidewalks to do the walking for them!  Mom knows I need the exercise so we just walk the normal way that humans and dogs have been walking for centuries, one foot in front of the other.

Avoiding the moving sidewalk

Avoiding the moving sidewalk

Disco Detroit

Disco Detroit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1:31 pm

We’re on a tiny plane this time, headed to Syracuse.  Mom and I are pooped.

2:58 pm

We’ve landed in Syracuse and we’re done with planes for a few weeks, hooray!  Uncle Ben and Grandma meet us at the airport for our last leg of the trip, a simple one-hour drive from Syracuse to Seneca Castle.

Uncle Ben has brought me a big puffy coat to wear and I quickly realize it’s because it’s FREEZING in America.  Seriously mom, after all this travel (66 hours to be exact) we’re in an inhospitable ice land.  WHY?

New coat

New coat

Also, while I appreciate the new coat, it makes me look fat.

TAKE ME BACK TO TANZANIA!!

TAKE ME BACK TO TANZANIA!!

 

 

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Shipping Cats

I don’t think I ever properly introduced you to my friends and (former) housemates: BlackCat and WhiteCat.  BlackCat and WhiteCat belong to mom and Aunt Amanda’s friend Jilli.  When Jilli moved from Mwanza to Dar es Salaam she needed some animal lovers to watch her cats and everyone knows that Mwanza’s animal sanctuary is located right here at my house! BlackCat and WhiteCat quickly integrated into our household and we all became good friends.

BlackCat, WhiteCat, and me

BlackCat, WhiteCat, and me

Well, I knew there was trouble brewing when Jilli showed up on Friday night with a big cage.  Mom used to put me in a cage when she left for work, but I hated that darn thing and I can’t stand the site of these animal torture boxes.  The cage sat around the house for the whole weekend so I kind of forgot about it, but a few hours ago everything changed.

Jilli put a Maasai blanket in the cage and then mom put me inside to see how I liked it.  Even though this cage is WAY bigger than the one I used to have, I still didn’t like it.  I believe it’s for unmannered dogs and therefore I clearly do not need to be in one ever again.

Nope! Not for me

Nope! Not for me

First Jilli captured BlackCat and put him inside and LOCKED THE DOOR.  This is when I realized that this was no joke.  Jilli was actually preparing to take her cats somewhere.

Stuck inside

Stuck inside

Poor BlackCat

Poor BlackCat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WhiteCat was smart and hid in a suitcase in Aunt Amanda’s room, but eventually he was found and then placed in the cage with BlackCat too.

At least they have each other

At least they have each other

WhiteCat goes in

WhiteCat goes in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As soon as my kitty friends were in the cage, Jilli and the Maasai carried the cage up the driveway, out through the gate, and then into the back of a waiting car.  Where the heck were they taking BlackCat and WhiteCat?

Stop! Bring them back!

Stop! Bring them back!

Where are you taking my friends?

Where are you taking my friends?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I started freaking out so mom explained that Jilli was taking the cats in an airplane to Dar es Salaam.  I bet it must be scary for a kitty to be in a cage in an airplane without his mom.  But I suppose BlackCat and WhiteCat will be ok because they have each other for comfort.  BlackCat and WhiteCat will stay in Dar es Salaam for a week with Jilli and then they will do the long flight like I did a year ago.  Mom says that I shouldn’t worry because BlackCat and WhiteCat are very lucky that they are moving to America, especially since WhiteCat was just a Tanzanian street cat that never could have dreamed of such a good life.  Apparently they even get to go to a special kitty hotel in the Amsterdam airport between their flights.

I wish mom had let me know a little sooner that BlackCat and WhiteCate would be making the trip to America.  I could have given them some pointers and told them what it’s like to go on an airplane for many, many hours.  Except that when I went I got to sit with my mom (lucky me)!

Saying goodbye

Saying goodbye

I’ll miss my kitty friends, but in the end I’m happy for them and excited for their adventure.  Jilli better let them e-mail me from time to time and perhaps I can even visit when I’m back in America too!

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