In Europe with Ralph

RalphEvery three years we bribe my father to look after the menagerie, and take the winter off to visit the family on the other side of the world. This is a procedure akin to invading a small country with a guerrilla army, and the implications that we have to consider vary ridiculous amounts, just in case we thought we had worked out a foolproof way of getting our arses 17 000 kms.

This year we had to freight the Owl’s medication, pre-loaded in syringes and only stable at a narrow range of temperatures. I had horrific visions of being left behind on the tarmac after the airline decided we were terrorists, or having the medication confiscated and having to decide between the Owl’s health and a trip to Europe (don’t embarrass me by asking what I would have chosen). I rang the airline. I emailed the airline. I filled out some contact forms on-line on the airline website. Everyone promised me it would be ok, so I printed all these promises, and the repeated warning that they would not be able to refrigerate the medication on-board, and the doctors letters in English and Polish. I loaded the esky, hereafter known as ‘Ralph’ after my friend C’s late husband, the original owner, and I placed all our paperwork on the top.

As is the case with so many things I worry about, the oft-stated strict policy of no on-board refrigeration for medication turned out to be totally false. Leggy women in beautiful scarves whisked Ralph away and looked after him – in their concern for Owl’s well-being, we received lots of extra ginger ale, and they all but pre-chewed his food for him (I’ll promote you, Etihad, but if I do, can we have business class next time?) Then no one looked at Ralph, or the letters, until we were departing Frankfurt on the return leg of the journey, whereupon they opened the Polish version, looked bemused, and waved us through.