Airplane Travel, Mom Humor, Uncategorized

Taking a Baby to Costa Rica- Part 1: The Hydraulic Parking Shuttle From Hell

Them: “You’re taking a baby to the middle of the Costa Rican jungle?!”

Us: “Yes.”

Them: “Are you crazy?!”

Us: “Ummm, maybe?”

Yes, we did it, and lived to tell the tale. We booked the tickets, reserved the house, bought a bag full of expensive sunscreen, and coaxed a bunch of other family members into going with us, before we could change our minds.

Tropical plants, cheeky monkeys, warm water, magenta pink sunsets, no need for pants, shirts, or shoes; sign me up.

But, first things first, we needed to get there.

Packing, driving the two hours to the airport, and finding a parking spot at the long-term parking concrete-jungle was fairly easy, but the easy ended there. We were shocked when a shuttle appeared mere moments after we schlepped all our shtuff over to the nondescript shuttle stop. Usually, we have to wait an hour, then frantically run after the passing shuttle that “didn’t see us.”

We entered the miracle shuttle, parked our traveling tushies in the back, and rolled along on our merry way, for about 50 yards. At this 50-yard mark a woman-with-wheelchair needed to make her departure from said shuttle, and the necessary ramps were lowered to accommodate her safe descent. Part of this ‘ramp lowering’ consisted of special hydraulics, which caused the right side of the bus to tilt towards the asphalt below; very disconcerting, but at least this guy “knew what he was doing.”

She was able to exit without much fanfare, and the shuttle driver attempted to balance out the listing bus. We slowly raised back to “right,” had a fleeting moment of ‘yay here we go!’ then persisted to tilt down on the other side. We were the only people on the bus now, and there was no one waiting in the wings to enter; “why the heck are we now sloping so far to the left I need to hang on to a stability pole to stay in my grafittied blue plastic seat?”

As I attempted to steel my nerves against the unease I felt at being a passenger on the ‘Unintentional Carnival Ride Shuttle,’ he started to drive! “You can’t drive a tilting bus! My baby is on board! Do you have a liscense to drive a shuttle, or any car?! Who are you?! Are you trying to kill us?! Let me off!” Before I could verbalize any of my neurotic internal dialogue, the shuttle bug Gods smiled upon us, and he STOPPED THE BUS. Good idea.

He then persisted to right the tilt…. and tilted it back to the other side. This ‘up, down, down, up, errrgg, crunch, and ‘other unsettling noises’’ carried on until my nervous mama asked the question on everyone’s mind, “Should we get off the bus?” That sentence is an anomaly in the world of airport shuttle buses, you NEVER get off the bus until you reach your final destination, out of fear that you’ll be forever trapped in the airport parking abyss, because another bus will never come; well, at least not until you’ve already missed your flight.

We attempted to ponder her inconceivable question as our non-traveling carnival ride continued, and flowed into the nervous shuttle driver moving to his last ditch idea of revving the engine of the non-moving bus for an inordinate amount of time. A mental image of the bus bursting into flames flashed through my mind as we all simultaneously made the silent declaration, “Okay, that’s it, we’re breaking the cardinal rule of airport shuttle etiquette, and we’re getting the F off this bus.”

The driver opened the doors without a word, and we stumbled out to the relief of fresh air, and non-tilting solid ground. AND, there was another shuttle pulling into the stop in front of us! HALLELUJAH! We are saved! We ran to Shuttle Number Deux, and sighed a breath of ‘thank goodness we didn’t get catapulted out of the Plexiglas windows of Shuttle Number ‘Oh Heck No.’’ As we recounted our harrowing tale to our fellow Shuttle Number Deux passengers, the new driver transported us to the end of the sea of cars, and announced he was done for the night, and we would need to transfer to another shuttle before continuing our journey on to the port of planes.

We dragged our gear out of the ‘Seemingly Savior Shuttle’ and trudged over the “new shuttle.” As I tilted my head up from fumbling with my straight jacket of a baby carrier, my mouth went dry as my gaze landed upon the new driver of our “new shuttle;” but he wasn’t new at all, oh no, he was the driver of the Hydraulic Parking Shuttle From Hell we had just escaped from. We were stuck in the Twilight Zone of parking lots, and I couldn’t change the channel.

In an unnaturally high-pitched panicky tone I exclaimed to the ‘I wish you were driving us’ shuttle driver, “You don’t understand, I have a baby, I CAN NOT get back on this man’s bus, I CAN NOT, did I say I have a baby?’ In an attempt to console me, he pointed at the menacing concrete ramp leading to the ‘LAX Departures,’ and explained, “You just have a two minute ride up that ramp to your terminal.” Hey buddy, it only takes a second for a bus to tilt and go careening off a steeply pitched ramp. He smiled, shrugged, and walked away; leaving me with a nervous looking ‘I’m quitting after tonight,’ shuttle driver. I felt just as bad for this poor guy as I did myself.

I held my breath, boarded the shuttle, closed my eyes, and envisioned a bottle of anti-anxiety-anything pouring into my body. We had a few wobbles on the ramp, but made it to the terminal catastrophe-free.

As the shuttle pulled away, the back tire flew off and left the shuttle incapacitated, with an angry stream of now-stranded “very important people” full limos in its wake. Just kidding.

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