My Life as a Traveler


Warning! This is long and boring, but might be helpful if you ever have to arrange a quick return from a European hospital back home all in 1 day. Read ahead at your own risk. More lovely Spain pics and pics of Mary and Susie next post.

The phone rang next to my bed at 3:30am. It was George, calling to say that he could indeed change Dominic’s flight to depart from Madrid for no extra charge. Did I want him to do it? Yes! That alone saves Carmen $2000, which is what it costs for a last minute flight from Madrid to Newport News. I got online to see how I could get Dominic to Madrid from Pamplona. It’s a 4 1/2 hour drive or a one hour flight. Fortunately, Iberia Airlines had a flight at 9am that would connect with the USAir flight. But Iberia reservations didn’t open until 8am and I couldn’t really tell online if the flight was available, so at 4:30am I turned off the computer and went back to sleep. I set the alarm for 7:45am to get to the hospital to sort out things with the insurance lady who was in at 9am.

The phone rang again at 7:30am. It was Carmen’s mom, calling from Germany. I talked to her yesterday, or at least tried to, since she only speaks German. First, she wanted to fly Dominic to Germany, but he needed to get home. Next, she wanted me to wait for her son who speaks English but is on a business trip in Portugal, to set up the flights. Again, got that handled. I’m sure she was trying to be helpful, but my German is not that good and my brain was not in German mode.

Here are the things I had to get done today:

  • Verify that George booked Dominic’s flight on USAirways and make sure he had good seats and a wheelchair to get him to/from the plane. Did that easily online. Check.
  • Call Iberia Airlines and book a ticket for Dominic from Pamplona to Madrid, complete with a good seat and wheelchair service. Had to call two times. First time to check availability and reserve the seat and wheelchair, second time to pay. Long phone call the second time because Dominic’s credit card was not accepted so had to use mine. They needed not just the number, but home address and phone number, too. Somehow it took several tries to spell Chesapeake Avenue to the Spanish agent, even though she spoke English. Check.
  • Call the Madrid airport because since Dominic is flying in on Iberia (terminal 1) and out on USAir (terminal 4), neither airline will transport him out of their respective terminal. Had to make 4 calls for this, the person who arranges such things was coming in “this afternoon,” which apparently means 7pm. Check
  • Pay the ambulance bill from the trail to the first hospital. Supposedly I could do this online, but not really. The Hotel Albret staff helped me decipher this and we determined that I had to go to a certain bank, just 3 blocks away to pay the bill in person. Of course, they would not accept Dominic’s credit card, only cash. In Spanish, no English.Check.
  • Check on Dominic. He was in fairly good spirits, considering his open-front cast was hurting his foot. The doc came in and ordered another x-ray just to make sure everything was good. After the x-ray, they redid his cast, which eased the pain, since it was a little tight. Is a coincidence that they send him to the Hospital de Virgin de Camino? Check.
  • Have Dominic separate out what he wanted to carry on the plane from everything else on his backpack. Since he was flying with two different airlines on two separate tickets, he could not check his luggage through. With a wheelchair, it really wasn’t possible to get to baggage claim and recheck his luggage in Madrid, so we were going to mail his backpack home. Check.
  • Call DHL to see how much it would be to pick up the backpack and get it to Virginia. $700. No way. What else?
  • Wrap the backpack and mail it via the post office. $130. Better. Had to go to the paper store, one block from the bank and buy wrapping paper. Borrowed tape, scissors, and a marker from the hotel front desk. Took the wrapped backpack 10 blocks to the post office. Could have sent it by boat, taking 3 months for $90. Made management decision for Dominic to get backpack sooner rather than later for closure. In Spanish. Check.
  • Have a long talk with the doctor about how Dominic will travel tomorrow. Learned about Deep Vein Thrombosis. Learned that Dominic would have to stick himself with a little injection of heparin every day, but especially for the flight. Learned that Dominic would need crutches to get from the taxi to the gate. Check.
  • Talk to the nurses to get Dominic enough heparin for his travel day, the day after, and the day after as well, since it was Memorial Day and Carmen would not have a chance to see the doctor til Tuesday. Totally in Spanish. Failed with the first nurse, success with the second. Check.
  • Talk to the insurance lady who just took Dominic’s insurance card and made a copy. No payment required, they will bill the insurance. Check.
  • Arrange a taxi for 7am to take us to the airport and made sure we would be able to leave with no problem. Check.
  • Go to the crutch store to buy light crutches for travel. Cost? $32. In Spanish. Check.
  • Print out Dominic’s USAir boarding passes. Had to go behind the hotel desk to use their internet, since could not print them out using a dedicated computer or wi-fi. Check.
  • Talk to Carmen two or three times by phone, a couple times by email. Check.
  • Talked to Carmen’s mom two or three times by phone. Ja, ja, Dominic is OK. OMG, check.
  • Talk to George, thank him for his help. Check.
  • Get lunch for Morgan and I – grilled chicken breast and bacon sandwiches with mayo. Gotta try this combo at home. Check.
  • Talk to Mary and Susie, who got special permission to stay 2 nights at the albergue. We will meet tomorrow in Pamplona after we see Dominic off and continue our walk. Morgan elects to continue the walk on his own instead of go home. Check.
  • Repack my backpack, getting it ready again for the Camino. Final check.

Lights out at 9pm. Exhausted.


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