Friday, August 20, 2010

Hooray for Technology

And so I could either wait until Lufthansa re-opened at 4:00am to see if we could get on another flight, or try calling Dad. I went back to the 24 hour post office, this time nearly losing it myself, and after 3 tries was able to get Dad on the phone. I told him our predicament to which he said, "how the hell did you do that?"

It doesn't matter now. I need your help. First I need you to text Mom and tell her that I'm ok and will be back to get her soon.

I also have to cancel your hotel reservation in Frankfurt.

Right. Well ok. I'll wait here and call you back.

Dad was able to cancel the hotel. He was also able to text Mom and she responded while I was on the phone. I told Dad he would have to try and find the flight online. In the meantime I was going to have to find Mom and get her through customs since I was not coming back with a boarding pass. Only I had no idea how to get back. I tried a few ways but became more lost. The airport was shutting down in several areas and I became frightened that I fucked up. I asked security guard after security guard and it seemed like they all gave me the wrong direction. By pure chance I ran into a man that helped me find the ticket sales counter in the first place and knew of my situation. He lead me back to customs but not quite all the way.

So I went backwards through customs and was screamed at in Turkish by a security manager. He screamed and yelled and I was so shocked all I could say was, "No! Please! You don't understand. I have to find my mother!!!!"

Panic had finally seeped in and tears were brimming as I had to explain to the hundredth person with little English where my mother was and why I needed to get her and bring her through. One security guard confiscated my passport and held me by the arm as I directed us back to Mom. She was talking to a nice Malaysian man who hugged her goodbye once I was spotted. The guard demanded to see Mom's passport and she stupidly pulled out the Israeli one. He got more cross and asked us a series of questions. I told her to get the damn US passport out but she was annoyed with him and started to complain again. She was somehow told that Israelis didn't need to pay for a visa to enter Turkey and I said, "who cares damn it? It's $25!!!" Then he demanded to see our expired boarding passes and asked where our luggage was.

I had no idea where it was. Turkish airlines at the ticket exchange assured us that if we didn't get on the plane then our luggage didn't either but who knew? It hadn't been the priority to deal with this whole time and I had no idea whatsoever of how to get it. So the guard followed us through every step of the way back and ended up being really nice when he saw us finally together and hugging on the other side. I actually hugged him in thanks too but to my dismay he was jeered by his co-workers.

Of all things in the Istanbul airport I amazingly found a 24 hour Gloria Jeans where we could sit through the rest of the night. At this point it was midnight and I figured Mom needed to freshen up while I texted with Dad and got our tickets.

Dad was able to find tickets for $325 each online but needed my credit card to pay for it since Mom had maxed out theirs. So the vacation that was supposed to cost me nothing now cost me a lot. I paid and we were issued a confirmation number. Now all I needed was to find our bags. Once Mom got back and ordered a coffee I set out to do so.

The way they have it set up is to dial a number for lost luggage and an airline attendant will help you. I dialed about 4 times and consistently got a busy signal. I managed to find an attendant who directed me toward a crowd of people waiting to find their luggage. No one spoke English but after some hand motions and a half hour wait I was led to the holding area. Only staff is allowed in so once again they took my passport. It took some talking and waiting and sorting but since I kept the bag claim receipts it was easy for them to find it. (KEEP YOUR CLAIM TICKETS PEOPLE) This was the simplest part of the evening.

I went back to Gloria Jeans at 1:30am and rested there until 4am when we could check in. A long journey still awaited us.

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