Flying 8 lbs over 8000 miles… (bringing her to me)

The most poetic beer I ever had was a crystalline and lightly carbonated panacea that splintered through my aching and drippy head for long enough to pass a few clear thoughts through a funky impending flu and the layers of dust in the chaotic Vietnamese airline cargo office in backwoods Noi Bai.  It was the night staff that actually brushed away all the crumpled discarded forms on the floor, but it was definitely the beer that let me feel like a bit of a badass (with a totally uncool sniffle), and gave me the patience to wait a few more minutes clutching a bundle of indecipherable forms that I didn’t have the right information to fill out.  I blessed whoever decided to put that canteen there, and my pocket for having the 15,000 VND (about $0.75) needed for a canister of distraction.

The place had technically closed ten minutes earlier, and my cat was somewhere in the warehouse downstairs.  My boyfriend had disappeared with most of her documents fifteen minutes before that, and all I could do was wait, and maybe get a taste for what the past few days must have been like for herPowerless, shuffled about in loud and dirty places, with no companionship or idea of what was going on, random giggling staff poking through the holes in her carrier, and a rightful small bit of rage at being abandoned for a whole month in Montreal while we’d fruitlessly tried to find someone to take care of her in Canada.

At home in Hanoi, I saw the ghost of her tail more than once.  We’d lit incense for her.  We gave offerings of flowers and cookies on our terrace shrine, and blessed the blue cat statue that had come with our apartment, as if in some way, our love would be transferred and our foolish decision to have her flown here would turn out ok, and that she wouldn’t hate us.

Six years ago I made a promise…

(She doesn’t hate us.)

Despite running from one un-named airport building to another, from one vaguely-titled office kiosk to the next; up and down floors, passed back and forth between all sorts of personnel and even having to walk two kilometres through the forest in order to find the live animal control desk… the moment when her carrier came into view eventually happened.  (I admit it, I cried).  3 hours spent searching, 30+ forms later and 45 minutes after closing, we grabbed onto her and booked it to a taxi.

(Our home street had never had so much colour before.  Things I’d never noticed were suddenly places.)

I finally surrendered to the flu that night.  Crisis passed, through a mountain of tissues, I watched her pad gleefully around our apartment, flopping in joy on the rainbow quilt that signifies home to her (and us), meeting the blue cat statue for the first time, and talking nonstop, maybe about her trip, maybe about love, I don’t know.

I spent the whole next day shivering, half-delirious and less-than-half conscious, but my purring grey moonstone was safe, and vibrating softly against me…

If you have any questions about transporting a pet overseas, send me a message and I’ll offer any information I’ve got.

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5 thoughts on “Flying 8 lbs over 8000 miles… (bringing her to me)

  1. Eileen says:

    KITTY! Oh wow, what an ordeal–I’m so glad she’s arrived safe & sound. I actually have friends who just moved to London (where “just” = “in September”) and they haven’t been able to get their dogs there yet. I think they’re up on how to do it, though–it just obviously takes months on end. AND. Did you see that you’re on Food in Jars this morning? Yay!

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    • elizabethranger says:

      noooo, I didn’t see that, thank you for letting me know! awww, I feel better about posting a bunch of cat pictures now. :D

      But yeah, it’s also a really particular ordeal moving pets and I feel for your friends… I’m sending all the posi vibes I can and tell them I think they’re super brave and foolish in the best way (seriously, the best way) for refusing to be parted from their animal friends.

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  2. lili says:

    I had a similar experience trying to send a friends dog from Noi Bai to America. It was a horrible experience with a happy ending.
    Your blog is beautiful. I hope you’re enjoying Hanoi, I’ve just returned and am trying to acclimatise to this horrid damp cold.

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    • elizabethranger says:

      I’m glad your friends’ dog is okay! I couldn’t even imagine working backwards through that place… it’s amazing what you can overcome though, when a loved one is on the line.

      Ick, yeah, the winter here! It’s um, not too cold or anything, but it sure is gloomy. Yesterday was a brilliant day, but I almost can’t wait for the heat blanket to come back. At least it’s easier to take pictures, then, too!

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