Back in the morning to Sheremetyevo 2, just long enough to catch the shuttle (an unmarked, white van, thank you very much) to Sheremetyevo 1. The domestic airport was even more decrepit, but it at least it had bright new computer screens announcing the departure gates and times. We quickly found our flight listed at gate 13 and headed over.
“Don’t we need to check in over there?” asked my husband, indicating a row of desks.
“No, we have no luggage to check.” And so we sat.
When they finally began to board the flight, the attendant looked at the hand printed ticket someone had given me at the counter the night before, and said “This is not a boarding pass, you have to go over there to get a boarding pass. Hurry.”
And so we dashed back over to those desks my husband had asked about (yes, he was right) and showed them our tickets.
“I’m sorry,” said the woman behind the counter, “that flight has already left.”
You know, I had held it together for almost 36 hours. In all our travels, we had never missed a connection, never lost luggage, never been stuck anywhere except Logan Airport. I was exhausted, stressed, I’d been wearing the same clothes for the last two days, I was worried about ever getting out of this city and all I wanted to do is meet our little boy. So, with nothing left, I lost it on some poor young woman behind the counter in a Moscow airport.
“What do you mean? How could the flight have left? It’s over there boarding now!”
“No, that is the flight to Minsk, your flight left ten minutes ago, it is already gone, I’m sorry.”
“But there it is, up on the screen, at gate 13, with ten minutes to go!” By this time my husband was trying to shush me, something he rarely bothers to do.
“Oh, that is only what the computer says, and the computer is always wrong.”
But my little scene did get us some help. Of course the next Aeroflot flight was not until late in the afternoon, but perhaps we could get another ticket with the other airline that made regular trips. It was a small bite out of the cash we had brought with us, but we got ourselves some roubles and bought new tickets.
More waiting. Enough time to figure out how to use a Russian payphone to call our facilitators, and notice that an awful lot of the suitcases going by were mummified in brown plastic packing tape. Enough to question whatever made me think I could do this, and to worry that this was a sign of things to come.
At last they began boarding our flight - on to a shuttle bus. The bus was filled with Indians - were we in the wrong place again?
“St. Petersburg?” I asked the guy next to me.
“Yes, St. Petersburg, you are in the right bus.”
I must have expressed enough relief for him to catch my accent. “American?” he asked.
“Where are you from.”
“Boston.” It was a major city, perhaps he would have heard of it.
“Ah, Boston. I went to college there.”
Wow. Small world. I began to relax a little after that. He told us a few stories about his college days, spoke to his family about the fact that we were from Boston. Nice guy.
We boarded the flight and arrived in St. Petersburg an hour later. Our facilitators were there to meet us. Vika took us to the Air France office to make sure we got our luggage back. It was still Monday, the ministry would still see us and we could meet our son right after that.