Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from Moscow

Hi everyone,

Well, there was a bit of a snafu in my travel plans.  My flight from Amsterdam to Moscow was delayed by over 2 hours which made my connection time in Moscow improbable to make... I met a really nice mother and daughter on the flight and they helped me with some logistics and some emergency notes written out in Cyrillic.  Note 3 "I'm going to miss my flight, would it be OK if I went ahead of you?" got me to the front of the cue at passport control which was about a million people so I thought my luck was going to change... NYET!  Which is exactly what the officious Russian lady said while pointing to my passport visa.  She grunted something about Moscow... da... Khabarovsk... NYET!  She looked up long enough to point to the back of the line and yell GO!!!  I was stunned... I said where?  GO!!! she didn't care where just go... I asked for my passport... she yelled for the last time GO!!!  NYET!!!  I sulked back with my 50 lbs of baggage towards the back of the room where there was a phone.  I thought now might be a good time to call the cosulate.  My card didn't work in the phone.  I saw 3 people standing by some benches on the back wall receiving their passports back from an official so I went there.  Which is where I stayed, and waited.  Eventually, this smug, American businessman who told me in Amsterdam that I wouldn't make my flight came in.  He snickered and said, didn't make it huh?  I didn't really answer... He rambled some story about having done this for 18 years... loitered for awhile and then smugly added as he left... "Merry Christmas" and with that, I started to cry.  Up to that point I was trying to be stoic... just be patient.  I'll figure it out... now... at 11:02pm I was crying.  Ironically, this got the attention of the people in blue who started milling about to figure out what to do with the bawling lady traveler with Canadian flag tags on everything.  They were pointing at their watches and doing their best but I couldn't understand.  Finally, a man in a grey suit came down the stairs and spoke to me in English.  He (I found out later although he never did tell me his name) works for the Russian Consulate.  He took care of me from there.  Turns out that my travel visa was imprinted with the 25th as an entry date and exit on the 31st but my invitation has an open date on it so they didn't match.  They didn't want to let me in until 12am or the 25th.  This got resolved but it was pretty much midnight by the time I passed through an empty customs area... no one asked me a single question - I just walked through.  The man in the grey suit met me outside the doors and |I told him no one was there, he said "that's ok... that's good... unless you have bombs or drugs in your bag....... you don't do you?  I managed a snicker and said, "No... not even citrus fruit" which I don't think he understood.  He called Aeroflot and rebooked my flight for later today (9:40pm so I lose a day) got them to cover my hotel and meals for today and ensured that I knew where I was going to for the flight tomorrow.  He also highly encouraged me to head into Moscow to Red Square and St. Basils just to experience it... I think for now, I'll continue to experience some safety and comfort at the hotel.  This man also kindly called my facilitator for me and explained the situation and told her when I would arrive.  Elya and I spoke briefly and she told me not to worry - she would make arrangements.  I can see the terminal I need to be at later outside of my room window (I will take a picture).  While waiting at the Aeroflot "irregular traveler" terminal I also met another young woman who spoke excellent English and she escorted me to my hotel as she checked in as well.  She is from St. Petes and is living in the USA married to a man in the military.  She was coming home for a vacation and they lost her luggage.  She emailed her parents from my computer last night, I emailed my SW and mom and had a much needed shower and turned in.  So, with that, I am here, in the first floor restaurant of the hotel eating my complimentary lunch (Missed breakfast and slept from 3am until about noon - thank God for sleeping pills and gravol!!!).  The chicken noodle soup and red warm tea/beet juice will be as close to turkey and cranberries as I get but I am safe and I am one flight and a train ride away from meeting my boy.  I woke up this morning and looked at his pictures and reminded myself that he is the reason and it will all be a crazy story and so worthwhile in the end. 

So, merry Christmas - have an extra serving of turkey with stuffing for me and an extra bite of dessert.  I didn't see Santa over the North pole so I guess you were all on your own merit this year in terms of what he brought - no last minute requests were delivered.  For now, that's it.  Tomorrow is another day... that hopefully will involve a train ride to Komsomolsk.

Merry Christmas from Moscow.


amy and kevin said...

You poor thing having to endure so much drama! I am so happy someone finally helped you out. We had an issue yesterday at the Vlad airport and it took a LONG time to find someone who spoke any English to help us. On top of all the emotional stress, traveling stress can be just too much. I am praying that the rest of your trip goes smoothly and this little boy is the one - your son!

Deb Woodcock said...

I can only imagine the stress you are dealing with! By now I am hoping you are on the train. My calculations with the time are not very good though. It will have felt very comforting to connect with Elya and feel somewhat shepherded through the rest of your visit.
Many Blessings!
Love you

Tracey and Chuck said...

Stacey -
We are thinking of you and hoping that you arrive to your destination safely and that your little boy is all you have dreamed of!
Looking forward to your next post.