Timing. Fucking timing.
We ain’t got none.
I can’t remember which one of us heard about the snowstorm first—maybe Feng watching the Weather Network, maybe me checking the weather app on my phone. We are Canadian, we are obsessed with the forecast. The conclusion was the same, though: after a mild winter, the first major snowstorm of the year was scheduled for Tuesday, December 29, which was rather inconvenient for us since we were flying on that day. Ah.
“What do we do?” I asked, an helpless French.
“There is nothing we can do,” Feng replied, the tough Canadian.
Indeed, there was nothing we could do. Flying a day earlier wasn’t an option since changing flights was expensive. Air Canada did email us offering this option but at the last minute, the night before, and we were not ready.
“Let’s rock’n’roll…” I muttered to myself when I had a last smoke on Monday, late at night. The blizzard had started and it was clear that the storm was coming. I went to bed that night listening to the sound of ice pellets hitting the window, wrapped into a thick blanket and cursing winter.
We woke up to forty centimeters of snow. The snow shoveling service we had signed up with hadn’t showed up, as usual. I wonder why we even bother. I grabbed a shovel and got to work. We had to clear the driveway. We had to get out of the house.
We finished packing. According to the Ottawa Airport website, half of the flights were still scheduled, half had been canceled. I was expecting us to be turned away at the airport. We are never lucky flying out of Ottawa and I’ve seen flights canceled for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Blizzard was one damn good reason to be grounded. I hated the thought of coming back home and being rescheduled for another flight. The house wasn’t clean but we had put everything away and the fridge was empty.
Feng’s parents drove us to the airport. My father-in-law drives slowly and carefully even on a nice day but this was the slowest and most perilous drive ever. Even Mark was quiet as he negotiated the snowy roads.
We checked in at the airport. Our Ottawa-Toronto flight was “on time”, at least in theory. Feng’s parents gave us hundreds of instructions, including not to let Mark under the sun and not to lose him. I smiled and thank them for reminding me how to be a human being. Then I walked away before getting too pissed off.
Amazingly, our flight was only about half an hour late. I wasn’t mentally ready. Were we traveling, really?
We arrived in Toronto at 6:30 p.m. and waited for our next flight, to São Paulo, Brazil. It was a long and boring wait spent in Terminal D and E. The flight was originally scheduled at 10:45 p.m. but it kept on been delayed even though there was no snow in Toronto. We eventually took off around 1 a.m. and all fell asleep.
Guarulhos Airport, São Paulo, 2 p.m, the following day. “Isn’t ‘GRU’ the vilain in one of Mark’s movie?” I wondered out loud, still sleepy and a bit cranky. Our visas were checked and our passports were stamped. We walked to the luggage pickup area where I explained Mark that our two backpacks would show up on the moving belt.
We waited. And waited. And waited.
And the bags never showed up.
I hadn’t expected that twist.
We dealt with lost luggage and got zero information. “Bags usually show up the following day. Or the next.”
“But we don’t have anything!”
Indeed, we only travel with two large backpacks plus two small carry-on backpacks. I had the computer, the camera, my Kindle, cable but no clothing or toiletry. Same for Feng. We had the most precious items but not the useful ones.
There was nothing we could do so we left the airport and checked in at the hotel.
Technically, we could spend up to $100 each to buy all that we needed and get reimbursed later, so we headed to the shopping mall. Feng was efficient: he grabbed underwear, socks and a couple of t-shirts at Loja America. I wasn’t so quick. I just couldn’t think, I didn’t know what I needed right there, right now. Everything? I hate shopping, let alone shopping in a rush, tired, in a country you don’t know. Eventually, I found a C&A (the same as in France, basically the equivalent of Old Navy) and bought a pair of shorts, two t-shirts, underwear and socks. I didn’t try anything, I hoped it fitted. For toiletry, we had whatever the hotel was providing.
We showered and all passed out. Time to worry about the rest later.