Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Expat - Days 2 and 3

In this uber-exciting account, the cats arrive and we make an epic trip to IKEA.

First of all, I keep forgetting that I've only been here for 3 days. I am trying to figure out why I'm tired all of the time, and then I remember that I'm still burned out from my last hectic month in Baltimore and now currently trying to remember my new phone number, what time it is where, and what is in my shipment (in a boat somewhere crossing the Atlantic) and what I need to buy. Also, in other interesting discoveries, no one seems to know where anything is. I have thrice - perhaps even more - now gotten into taxis and had the cab driver ask me for directions to where I am going. You're asking the wrong person, here, dude. There are like 14 highways that crisscross this area and I have no clue what goes where.

Live animals! 50 pounds of paperwork taped to the top.
Moving the cats was simultaneously the easiest and most stressful aspect of the move. Easiest because we used a fantastic service - Pet Relocation - and they took care of everything. They told me which vet to use in Baltimore (apparently, you need one certified in international travel), helped me set up appointments, made sure I had all of the right paperwork correctly filled out, looked at the cats' records and told me which vaccines they needed, and walked me through every step of the process. They even told me exactly which carriers to purchase which are approved for international travel. The stress aspect came from the upsetting knowledge that I would be putting the cats through a lot to get them to the Middle East. Fiona, aka "Small, Troubled Cat," (click here for pics) throws a royal bitchfit whenever she has to go somewhere in the car so I couldn't imagine sticking her on a plane for umpteen hours.

A couple of things I didn't know about international pet travel:

1. As of (insert historical date here), pets are not allowed inside the cabin of commercial airliners when flying internationally. Instead, they must be shipped as cargo in a special pressurized cabin dedicated solely for this purpose. As a result, there are a limited number of carriers that actually do pet transfer services - Lufthansa, British Airways, and KLM to name the 3 that I know of. The plus side is that the hubs for each of these have boarding facilities and are well-versed in pet travel.

2. A reputable pet transfer service WILL NOT SEDATE YOUR PETS. I had originally thought this was the most humane way to get animals through very long flights, but my agent gave me some literature explaining that animals are naturally predisposed to dealing with high levels of stress and that sedation will confuse their bodies and can cause them to go into cardiac arrest. This is apparently the primary reason for things going wrong in pet shipments. 

The Relocater agent worked with me for the past month explaining each step of the process - health certificates, vaccines within 30 days, final vet visit within 10 days of travel, USDA health certificate approval - there was more paperwork involved in shipping the cats than my visa has required. An agent picked up the cats from where I was staying in Baltimore and another agent brought them to our new flat in Abu Dhabi. Door to door service! Also, they signed me up for Flight Aware alerts so I knew when the cats' flights departed and arrived, and they gave me all of the tracking information for the shipment. 

I wonder if the Animal Hotel is near the Red Light District?
The cats had a 10 or so hour layover in Amsterdam where they stayed in a kennel, had their crates cleaned, and were given food and water and a litter box. The agent in Abu Dhabi called once he had cleared customs with the cats and assured me that both were alive and looked good.

I have no idea how much either cat freaked out over the 48 hours that we were on our separate travels from Baltimore to Abu Dhabi, but I will say that within an hour or so of arriving in the new flat they were eagerly eating treats and purring and acting completely normal. However much #smalltroubledcat freaks out, she bounces right back. I didn't get much sleep that night because she slept ON my neck, licking my face. 

I was so relieved to have both cats arrive healthy - although probably not happy - and they are settling in quite well in the new flat. They have a balcony to lie on and many windows to look out of, and it's not -10 degrees the way it was in Baltimore so they're not huddled around the radiators trying to keep warm. Everyone is quite happy.

New desk! (one of 3 trolleys)
On the third day, God created IKEA and we went and bought everything. I didn't ship much in the way of furniture, and The Gentleman was living previously in a furnished apartment, so we had to buy things like a coffee table, dressers, a dining table and chairs, and a desk for me. Fortunately, if you spend more than 2500dhs (about $680 - which we most definitely did) they not only do free delivery but provide a team to put your furniture together. Huzzah not having to assemble IKEA furniture! 

Also, it's important to note that IKEA hosts Curry Wednesdays and you can make reservations for two for the classy IKEA Valentine's Dinner. The Gentleman refused to acquiesce, leaving me to believe that he doesn't think I deserve reservations for Valentine's Day at IKEA. Jerk.

All of our new furniture will be delivered on Monday, which will be quite welcomed as we're currently using cardboard boxes as our coffee table and have clothes all over everywhere because there's nowhere to put them. I did buy plates, bowls, utensils, and some pots so last night we had a very civilized dinner of leftovers on actual plates instead of paper and using actual utensils instead of plastic. 

The cats are weirdly obsessed with the shower. They don't understand it, and they like to go in it after it's been used and lick the water off of their paws. Weirdos.

 Coming up - chaos as it rains in Abu Dhabi!


kat said...

Since you're going to be there for a minute. You might have to start titling your posts rather than numbering them;) "ON the third day, God created Ikea." <3

The New Glitterati said...

Ya, figured that out right after this post. Didn't really intend for it to be a theme, so that's a good thing :) So glad you're reading!!