Thursday, January 5, 2012

Nous sommes arrivés en France!

We made it!

Happy Holidays mes amis. We are now officially living in France! We still can’t believe that we aren’t just here on vacation. We also finally got Internet so I can start putting some posts up.

We were busy up until departure with the preparations to leave and trying to fit in as much social time with friends and family as we could. After the packing/moving was done, we could focus on getting all our documentation in order, getting the dogs & cat ready, trying to clean out the house, packing our suitcases and trying to slip in some fun.

The animals needed to visit their vet for an exam & for paperwork, and then visit the USDA vet for sign-off that they were good to go for international travel. It was tough to figure out exactly what was required for bringing them to France with us, but S was able to find some good websites full of information that we followed. You would think the airlines would have information on shipping pets to France, but no. And every time we called Air France to check, they wouldn’t have the information correct – that we were taking 2 dogs & 1 cat with us on the plane in the special cargo area. So we had to keep calling & trying to get them to update their records. We were up late the night before departure getting their crates all assembled, labeled, making sure the documentation required was attached, etc.

We went down to Southern California to spend some time with my family over Christmas. We went out with friends every night beforehand trying to see as many people as we could. Even though it took away from packing and cleaning, it was good to see everyone. Being down at my parents was especially nice as it forced us to take a break. We could still work on emails and documents, but we enjoyed some downtime just hanging with my family, seeing some friends in So Cal, and even doing some Christmas shopping.

We drove back up to Bgame on 12/26, leaving really early. We got home around noon, and started gathering all our suitcases and clothing, etc. to put in the empty dining room as our staging area. We also worked on getting the house set up for our annual Dice Game. Yup, I’m still crazy. We hosted 10 people at our house for dinner and our Christmas Dice Game. Everyone brought food so we didn’t have to cook, but we did need to get set up & find seating for that many people. Thank goodness for neighbors with extra chairs! We had a great time with everyone and continued with our packing after everyone left. S was up all night getting the house in order, packing, etc. There was a pile of stuff we couldn’t fit in our luggage – even after borrowing a suitcase from our neighbor G! So that stuff will be mailed to us. I don’t even want to know what that’s going to cost! Some of the Christmas presents the girls got were heavy and in big boxes. Oh well…It took ages, but luckily we were out the door right on time at 1:00 to head to the airport on the 27th.

We put the dog crates in G’s El Camino, had the dogs get in the crates, & added some luggage.. We packed the back of our LandCruiser full of suitcases, and put the cat crate in with R&C in the middle seats. I rode with G, and we had our friend C come with us to drive the LandCruiser back from the airport. When we arrived at SFO, we got 5 luggage carts, and managed to load everything onto those, which meant we only had 1 extra cart. That was totally manageable. We got to the airport check in counter without any major mishaps. But then we realized one big one – with all the craziness of trying to get packed up and out the door on time, we forgot one critical traveling task. We forgot to check on the flight schedule! Turns out our flight was canceled and the next one was in 3 hours! Poor dogs! So we found out where the closest area was where we could let them out of their crates to go to the bathroom and hang out a bit. (Thank goodness for that area at the airport!) We had bought a harness for SC the cat, and we even let him out to walk around a bit. We all hung out there for awhile, then the girls & I went back into the terminal to get some lunch. When we got back it was time to get the animals to the oversize luggage drop-off and for us to head through security. It was so hard to say goodbye to them and watch them be wheeled away, hoping someone would take good care of them. After going through security, S stopped and had something to eat & then we were off to our gate.

When we were on the plane taxiing away from the gate, words kept flashing in my head: “I can’t believe we’re doing this. I can’t believe we’re doing this”. It still seemed so crazy that we were moving to France. I felt the same as when I’m heading up the hill at the beginning of a very large rollercoaster wondering why the heck I said yes to the ride. Let the craziness begin!

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