The following is a satirical account of a disastrous adventure that is not in the slightest an exaggeration of the ridiculous truth.
Inigo Montoya: Canine of dubious origin and breed, from Ecuador. Short legs, shy personality, freakishly long body. Proved his bravery when sustained the journey from his home country to Africa, where he became a leader in the small group of mostly cowardly compound dogs.
Mr Wild: Rightful owner of the dog, from England. Short temper, shy at asking questions, freakish power to befriend and be loved by all animals. Proved a foolishly devoted pet owner in the story to follow.
La Lorena: Magnificent creature of the Earth, an expert on all that is possible and also a few of the impossible things. Has been identified, on occasion, as a princess for her benevolent nature, her esoteric beauty, and occasionally for winning like a little princess. Proved to not be a pet person through various failed attempts at animal care during her early years, and has only succumbed to the enthralling cuteness of one animal since: Montoya.
And so it came, as all knew that would come, the time to leave Africa behind, taking only battle wounds, rose-tinted memories, and oh, the dog. It would fall upon La Lorena to find a way for Inigo to get to the small Mediterranean island of Cyprus, as she, in her infinite wisdom, had managed to get the dog to Africa in the first place.
Inigo could sense something was about to change, as everything except his kennel disappeared from the house. He stretched out on the floor and heard La Lorena make call after call and type email after email in order to arrange transport for a dog from Lilongwe to Kyrenia. Interesting fact: only if a plane has a temperature-controlled baggage area can a live animal travel on such plane.
The cargo agencies proved highly incompetent and expensive, but after much thinking and considering, the light bulb turned on: La Lorena would book a flight from Cyprus to Malawi, and on her return journey she would take the dog with her as ‘extra luggage’. What genius! Ja!
Not until a couple of weeks before her scheduled departure from Cyprus did La Lorena realize she, as an Ecuadorian passport holder, has to apply for a visa to pretty much everywhere on the globe, and thus, having failed to obtain a visa to Greek Cyprus, a frenzy of emails ensued whereupon Mr Wild became the scheduled passenger for the voyage.
And so, Mr Wild assumed all the responsibilities of the tricky process to follow. “Don’t worry, everything has been checked and you have all the documents, and the ones you don’t you know how to get, and I will send you the ones that are still in process, and don’t forget to bathe the doggie before his flight, it’s bad form to show up smelly to an international flight.”
Assured, he took off with nothing but a backpack with a few basics. Little did he know his journey would be much longer than scheduled, and furthermore, that nothing he could pack in that bag would help him.
Mr Wild arrived at the good ol’ city of Lilongwe, where he was warmly received under the hospitality of a most redoubtable friend, Miss Montgomery, and was entertained and catered to by many other fine citizens. He followed the directions of the “Plan to get Inigo to Cyprus” that La Lorena had drafted, and soon enough he and the puppy were standing at the check-in counter of Ethiopian Airlines in Lilongwe.
Lesson #1: Never, ever, fly with Ethiopian Airlines. Ever.
Mr Wild and the boxed Montoya took off on a Wednesday. They made a bee-line to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, and then parked there until a 4am flight departed to the Egyptian capital, Cairo. In Spanish, El Cairo. The pair sat in the airport all day, one dreaming of mattresses and the other making a detailed psychoanalysis of the effects that sitting in a box could have on a creature such as himself.
The scheduled departure was not with Ethiopian, but with Egypt Air, though it was booked through Ethiopian. Lesson #2: never allow an Ethiopian Airlines employee to book anything for you. Not even a hair appointment.
Mr Wild boarded the plane, found his seat, and began browsing through the Duty Free magazine. It was departure time when a flight attendant approached him. “Excuse me, Mr Wild? Do you have a dog with you? Could you please come with me for a moment?”
Remember how only planes with a temperature-controlled baggage area can transport animals? Well, this plane didn’t have one. So, sorry Mr Wild, you cannot come on this plane with your creature. Let us get your luggage out of the belly of the plane while all of the passengers stare through the little windows.
Two hours after departure time, with all the luggage of the plane spread out on the runway, the attendant concluded Mr Wild’s bag must have gotten lost somewhere else. Anywho, gotta go, bye-bye!
Mr Wild stood in the runway with his dog, though not his bag, and sighed.
Egypt Air was in charge now, and though they could not find the bag to save their lives, they assured Mr Wild that a flight to Cyprus leaving in 24 hours would be able to carry the dog. They checked him at a nice hotel and told him to wait. What about the dog, he asked. Oh, just take him with you. Don’t I need a bunch of paperwork to get him out of the airport? Nah.
Lesson #3: When you have pets, move to Egypt.
Thus the unlikely pair went to watch cable TV and eat hotel food. Meanwhile, La Lorena, who had prepared a happy welcome for the travellers, sat holding the car keys, her makeup wiped out with a tissue.
The next day Mr Wild was spared the shame of being asked to step out of the plane, this accomplished by not letting him on in the first place. Temperature-controlled baggage area? No, not on this plane. Why don’t you come back in the morning and we can find you a flight with those conditions.
The disgruntled pair went back to the hotel, straight to the bar. Back in Cyprus La Lorena kicked off the shoes, wiped off her makeup, and proceeded to eat a disproportionate amount of the lasagna she had just made.
Did I mentioned there was still no sight of the backpack? On the fourth day of wearing the same clothes, Mr Wild and his difficult companion were sent to Athens. That’s right, Greece, another continent entirely. This, Egypt Air representatives who should choke on an individual size day-old roll said, would allow the pair to catch a suitable plane to Cyprus. In fact, let us book you the flight, you’ll be home by late afternoon.
In Athens – a lovely airport, by the way – Mr Wild waited for his connection and then queued into the plane. Browsing the in-flight magazine, there she came: “Mr Wild, is it? Please come with me for just a moment”… that’s right, off the plane, you and your live animal!
At this point I do believe even Inigo was pleading with the airline. Mr Wild managed to keep it together somehow, and much admiration to him; some of us would be behind bars for the reaction we would have had.
And so, another promise was made: at 10pm a big airbus with temperature-controlled baggage area will leave for Cyprus and arrive at midnight, well passed the bedtime of the airport vet. Naturally La Lorena was on a phone frenzy again. Get the vet out of bed, and go to the border at 1am, to try to convince the Turkish authorities to let the dog through at these most questionable hours of the night.
It was closer to 2.15am when La Lorena spotted something in the distance of no-man’s-land (see buffer zone, Nicosia). There, in the dim light of the border patrol, a man approaching with a giant box.
The triumphant pair were received with hugs and kisses, and a load of enthusiasm from all the women officers who came out of their immigration booths to pet the doggie. Mr Wild won them over with his 2am weathered charm and they were unable to resist letting the travelers through.
The bag, which had been waiting in the Cyprus airport tagless for a few days, was picked up after much hassle a couple of days later.
There’s an old, wise saying in Spanish: perro de mierda!
(Inigo was found 36 hours after his escape, he had nothing to say)