I'm here in the horse barn at the Endurance Village, my computer is perched on a bale of pine shavings, I'm sitting on a bucket. Khruschev is relaxing in a paddock along with the other USA and Canada horses. Feeling rested, and starting to get into a routine... will take some time to describe our trip over.
The departure from LA was very smooth. We loaded the horses in the cargo box
around 10 pm. Hoisted the box onto a big flatbed and drove them to the departure
DiCamillo was there with SR Sharee, and Christy Janzen's horse Tais was also
travelling with us, with Kim - Christy's groom - scheduled to meet us in Dubai.
The cargo plane (CargoLux jumbo jet) was huge. We unloaded the box with the
three horses off the truck, and then hoisted them up into the belly of the plane -
packed in there along with all of the other cargo. Mersant International was the
shipping agent and they had a professional groom with us the entire trip. Great
guy - big burly Irishman named Des. Has been shipping horses for 30 years and
he made us feel relaxed and comfortable from the start. He actually rode in the
box with the horses during the truck transit to the terminal, and while the box
was loaded onto the plane. He also stayed with them during take-off and landing.
He was loads of fun, and had stories about the old days - 100 + horses tied side
by side in the cargo hold - packed in like cattle - stallions challenging each
other... sounded like some wild times.
It was very cool being able to walk around the ground under the jet - making
sure our gear was loaded, so close to the rumble of the engines. It was dark out
and made it seem even more exciting. Karen and I rode in the 'passenger' section -
a few seats right behind the cockpit where the crew rode. We could watch the
pilots and Karen even sat in the cockpit during the landing in Luxembourg. She
came out with her eyes very wide. We had plenty of room to move around, comfortable
seats (first class recliners) and we could climb down into the cargo hold and
check on the horses whenever we wanted. Their box had canvas flaps that we
opened for ventilation, and small doors up front on either side so we could walk
in and offer them water, carrots, etc.
We landed in Luxembourg and unloaded the box from the CargoLux plane. Had a
2 hour layover but the horses stayed in the box. We had been flying east from LA,
so had a brief period of daylight, then it was dark again in Luxembourg. We loaded
the horse box onto a different plane - British Express - another big jumbo jet.
Climbed up into the cockpit area and headed for Dubai.
We arrived in Dubai at 7 AM - 20 hours after we left California. The coast was
in fog - and our first glimpse of the city was from the window of the plane
as we descended for landing. The tops of the high-rise resort hotels were
piercing through the fog. Karen looked out the plane window and said 'look - there's
Atlantis!' - it was pretty amazing looking.
When we arrived at the terminal it was pretty confusing for a while. We had gotten
pretty accustomed to just trusting that wherever we were, somebody would know
what was happening and what to expect- because we never did! We unloaded
the horse and the tack/baggage and were sort of standing around when an official
came up, scratching his head, flipping through pages in his clipboard ... some fellow
with an Indian accent "you have horses? I don't have any horses scheduled to arrive..."
Oh great.... Des made sure the horses were at least unloaded and we took them to an area
where we could walk them until somebody figured out what was going on. Somebody
grabbed our baggage and started hauling it to the arrival area - until Des stopped
him. The baggage was supposed to stay with us. But somehow some of the baggage
ended up going anyway. Finally 'the man' showed up along with a big horse van, looking
very much in charge - he pulled out a
card and flashed it to the guys (who had thought they were in charge). As soon as they
saw the card, everything started happening.
The horses were loaded into the van for
the ride to the Endurance Village, our baggage was retrieved (mostly), apologies were
made, and we were rolling again. The van went ahead, and we went in the car with David (the
guy with the card) to meet the van at the Village. A few more hitches - the fellow with our visas
and permits had left them in the office in Dubai and gone home for the holiday, the horse
van got lost for a while, I had to go back to the airport for the misplaced baggage - but
finally we made it. Settled the horses into the US/Canada barn (just completed the
night before) - and then settled ourselves into our room at the village - decent facility, good food. Once
the next wave of crew arrives, we'll have rooms at the nice hotels in Dubai - pool,
excersize room, the works.
More later ... I feel very grateful to be here - and we're already being treated royally.
Steph Teeter, and Nature's Khruschev