Ollie scouting out new spots to sleep in Douala.
13 August 2015
Ollie's Odyssey Begins
As you can see from these pictures, Ollie was not particularly enthused about her impending move. She also experienced several courses of rabies shots, a microchip implant, and USDA-notarized paperwork. Despite our only having a three hour layover in Brussels, she had to meet onerous EU standards (Cameroon's were not as strict – really just the rabies shot and confirmation).
On the road, though, she remained quiet, if not still, when confined to her soft bag (with “privacy flaps”...). Life outside the bag was more stressful, including when I had to carry her through the metal detector and was also selected for TSA extra screening. Once I walked through the metal detector, an agent called out “I need a hands check” (to inspect my hands for chemicals) so I waited with Ollie writhing in my arms as the agent became increasingly curt (“I need hands!” “Hands!”).
After a few minutes someone came to check my hands (as I swapped Ollie between arms) then we proceeded to collecting my carry-on. After conducting a chemical(?) check of the bag, Ollie was allowed to return to her sanctuary. This was followed by searches of my checked bags, a body pat-down, and the brief sequestration of my shoes for further scanning.
At this point the hardest (or most entertaining, from Blair's onlooker perspective) portion of the trip was over. Before landing in Brussels we noticed on a stub with our boarding passes that ALL flights to African countries depart from something called “Terminal T.” No, Brussels Airport isn't that large, these were just leftover gates from Terminal A that were redubbed Terminal T gates and partitioned away from the rest of Terminal A...
Terminal A: Shengen destinations
Terminal B: International (non-Shengen) destinations
and then there was Terminal T: Africa.
Guess which terminal has one cafe and one duty-free shop...
I carried Ollie through one more metal detector and asked whether we needed to present her paperwork anywhere. Nobody seemed terribly concerned so we proceeded to our gate.
This we discovered after sitting in a waiting area with the other passengers travelling to various African countries (along with flights to Washington, DC, and New York City) and taking a shuttle bus to the T portion of Terminal A.
Onwards to Douala. Ollie would occasionally push around in an attempt to escape (reminiscent of the “breakout” scene in Alien – the bag, after all, was not much larger than she was), but remained quiet so the passenger seated above her was none the wiser. Good thing too as one of United/Brussels Airlines requirements was that your pet “may not annoy other passengers.”
Upon entering Douala, officials were similarly uninterested in Ollie's arrival (the school thought there'd be a vet on hand to inspect her and her paperwork). Nobody even bothered to stop us at Customs and we were on our way to Ollie's new home!