Travel day is not something I ever look forward to, coming or going. If it were possible to beam myself to my destination, I would be fine with it, but so far that mode of transportation seems to be only available on television. For now, I must be at airports 90 minutes prior to departure, then cram myself into uncomfortable seats for many hours of misery. I am unhappy and usually snarky. Honey puts up with my miserable mood but I think that if she had a stick, she would beat me within an inch of my life on many occasions.
I am at The Playa now and life is better, but travel day did not pass without its normal assortment of frustrations. It always begins right at my house where the over-abundance of baggage must me checked, weighed and loaded into the car. This year we traveled with 4 pieces of luggage to be put under the plane and 3 carry-on pieces. Seven bags that must be moved from one place to another as we make our way slowly to the south. The total weight came in just under 230 pounds. Heavy and awkward is the only way to describe dealing with them.
Once at the airport we are able to divest ourselves of the worst of it and turn it over to the airlines. It will not need to be dealt with again until we land in the Dominican Republic. Until then I need only worry about my carry-on baggage and all my travel documents. Which, for some reason I can never find easily. I take out the documents to get my boarding pass, then put them away, then must retrieve them again to pass through airport security and again to board the plane, then again when I land to go through customs along with additional forms given me on the aircraft for entry into the country. That doesn’t sound too complicated except that I never seem to put them back in the same spot I took them from! I can never find anything easily!!
You would think that after so many years of traveling I would have a standard procedure but no sir! I get my passport out of one pocket and put it back into another. The forms and documents I have hidden in other pockets of my carry-on. Am I really this stupid?!!! I know I’m going to need them again, why am I trying to confuse myself?!!! Why do I not put them back where I got them from?? I seem to have some sort of mental block that causes me to make things harder than they need to be. I been doing this for fifteen years!! I can’t stop myself!!
I think that part of the problem I have is that when I reach the front of the line, I feel this overwhelming sense of urgency. I’ve been in a line for 30 minutes and it is only when I am face to face with the counter personnel that I retrieve my documents. Why do I not already have them in my hand? The reason is because I think I might lose them if they are in my hand and I will be sent to the back of the line! You’re right… this makes absolutely zero sense!!!
This year our travel was going relatively smoothly until we landed in the DR. The line to go through customs was immense. We had landed right behind a flight with at least 300 passengers and we were at the back of our own plane. By the time I got in the line there were 500 people in front of me. It took 90 minutes to get to the front of the line! When I finally reach the customs officer and I have fumbled to find all the documents I need to present, I am told to accompany another official to a back office. He takes my documents and tells me to sit along the wall. I’m expecting to hear the snap of rubber gloves! The only thing missing from this moment, is the ominous background music you would hear in a movie!
One official gives my documents to another, who is sitting in front of a computer. There is keyboard tapping. There is screen staring. There is Spanish conversation between the two officials. There is a nod or two. Then I am handed my passport and documents and escorted back to the customs desk. My passport is stamped and I am told I can go. Even now, I have no idea what had happened, or why!! Honey, who has been waiting patiently, and we go and retrieve our luggage, then make our way through the last segment of the entry process. Thankfully, we are waved through, I was sure I was going to have to explain the screens and Velcro! We make our way to the car rental desk.
“Lo siento”, the woman at the rental desk says to me, “there is no car here for you.”
What??!! Is this really happening??? It seems that the company that I have rented a vehicle from and paid for in full, has not sent a car to the airport!! I rented it two months ago!! The woman who represents two different companies at the airport, then tells me there is nothing she can do to help. It is also perfectly clear that she has no intention of even trying to help. I am told I will need to contact the rental broker to get this fixed.
My first two hours in the Dominican Republic have not gone well. I am angry and frustrated and had it not been for Honey, who had remained calm throughout this ordeal, I would still be at the airport screaming at the counter-girl! Honey convinced me to get a taxi and go to the Playa and deal with it there. It was sound logic, there was nothing I was going to be able to do to get this corrected where I stood.
Five days later I am still without a vehicle. There were a few messages sent and replied to at the outset. These are the standard type of auto-reply messages that request additional information and documentation. In these messages it states that it may take up to 20 days to rectify this situation. In 20 days, I will be back at home! Where I own a car! I am already out of pocket $100 for the taxi to the Playa and I will need to spend at least that to get back to the airport. I have heard nothing from the broker or the car-rental agency since Friday. Why would I?? It’s the weekend for them! They don’t work weekends!! What do they care that time is ticking on my stay in the DR! What does it matter to them the inconvenience I am experiencing!! They have a car outside their office in the parking lot!!! They’re not the ones on vacation, they’re on a weekend!!!
I know that if I stay diligent, I will eventually get my money back. But this does little to help my current predicament. If I hope to be able to go anywhere, it appears that I will need to rent another car for the duration of our stay here. Am I a dissatisfied customer? You bet I am!! Does it matter?? Only to me it seems.