Don’t Freak Out – Part 4

Further Adventures of the Defi Diva

by Amber, aka Defi DivaKasbeer_gear_cart_cropped

“Holy crap! I can’t believe how long it took me to pack those boards!” I said in exasperation to Chris. He laughed, “Yeah it took me the better part of four hours yesterday. I kept having to run to the store for more noodles and tape. And then of course, I could only reliably use one side of my body for lifting and moving.”  Things were looking up though.  No locusts, or nuclear events stymied our trip to the airport, and Lou had successfully deposited us and our gear at Dulles International right in front of the Air France ticketing area. We engaged a couple of porters to help us with our boards and gear, and then Chris took his car to economy parking while our boards sat in front of the ticket agents attracting a myriad of attention from both the traveling public as well as the Air France staff. At the advice of Christine, we had prepaid for our excess luggage, with both Chris and I having to each shell out close to $1,100 round trip just to ship our two boards and sails. Sigh!  It is hard to be an unsponsored Diva…

While I was sitting back waiting for Chris to park his car I was overcome with dread as I watched as a ticket agent came up to our bags with a look of concern.  Uh-oh… then a radio call attracted the presence of another three Air France personnel, all wearing nicely tailored suits and official badges.  They all examined the gear closely and talked quickly, arms flying with the conversation.  At that point, I got up from my vantage point and walked quickly around the line of people waiting to get their tickets and see what the concern was. But, I have to say, that all my fears were immediately allayed. The senior representative had all the paperwork ready, they had been expecting our gear and were only discussing how best to move it down for inspection. A small mental “Woo Hoo!” went up in my head to Christine and Paolo!  What a relief! Just then Chris showed up from parking his car, and we were able to effortlessly check in. We were on our way at last!

Our flight was uneventful, but neither Chris or I slept very well. We were both amped with thoughts of the DEFI and the logistics we still had to face to get to the venue. We had decided only a couple weeks before, to spend the first night in Barcelona instead of trying to drive all the way to Gruissan the first day after we landed. I had done that from Toulouse the last time I came, and I’m not sure that I was technically or legally coherent during that part of the trip.  So when Chris suggested we spend the evening in Barcelona I was fully on board with the idea. Lucky for us, because it turned out to be the right thing to do for a number of reasons…

Chris and I parted briefly in Charles de Gaulle airport to catch our separate flights. I ended up getting the earlier flight, which allowed me time to collect my luggage and pick up the rental car. Once again I used the “bi-plane” technique I had mastered during my last trip which involved me laying my luggage crossways across the small luggage cart giving the appearance of a small Wright Brothers contraption.  And once again, I was confounded by the narrowness of the multitude of doors that I had to make my way through.  Stopping at each constriction, I had to off load each piece, slide it through the opening, and then carefully re-stack it on my cart to continue on my journey.  

Chris and I had reserved a van for the trip. But after conferring with the Avis car agent on the doors and elevators I would need to engage to actually reach the rental car, and then having flashbacks to the last time I did this, I decided to enjoy a “cafe et pain du chocolat” and simply chill out and wait for Chris.  Because after all, despite the lameness in my traveling companion, three arms are still better than two!

Eventually Chris showed up. When I saw him pushing a large Air France luggage cart I stared in disbelief! “Where did you get that?!” Chris answered matter of factly, “The Baggage Agent let me borrow it.” “Huh? They let you just walk off with their equipment?”  “Yes… I just smiled and told her I was Brazilian”, he said with a wide grin. …Oh, brother…

Chris did have to return the luggage cart and from that point on we assumed a sort of small flying formation to navigate the traveling masses and copious obstacles along the way. Mirroring our own version of a mini Spartan Race (minus the mud, and fire pits) we finally did manage to find our van. Luckily the seats folded flat, but it was just not big enough to hold all of our gear inside. We decided that we would have to put three of the boards on the roof. Unfortunately while the roof did have rack supports running along the sides, there were no actual cross sections to mount the boards on. So Chris and I decided to pull the swimming noodles out of the board bags and use them instead. (This was a trick that I had read about during my previous DEFI trip research.)  

As we set about unpacking our boards and stripping them of noodles, I was struck frozen when I unzipped my brand new Starboard 114 Futura.  Their it lay in its coffin of bubble wrap and brightly colored swimming noodles, crushed and splintering.  I turned to Chris and tried to speak but just couldn’t. “What?!! Are you ok?! What happened?” As he looked at my board to see the carnage for the first time, he paused and calmly said, “Uh…don’t freak out. Don’t worry we’ll figure something out…” 

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