The Texas Pivot

Austin, Texas

Austin is a beautiful city. Lots of greenery, restaurants, dog-friendly, and overall it reminded me of a warmer version of Vancouver. We stayed here for 5 days to try and figure out what we should do while getting some rest that we all needed. We go to Barton Springs, swim lots, eat some bbq and nap. Lots of Naps.

Here’s the thing, Central America is in its full thunderstorms season and in its 30 plus weather without a drop in temperature. Guess who’s not doing so well with the heat? Zoe. She can’t cool down.

Time to pivot.

**FYI info about going over the Darien Gap – We had to eventually ship the car between Panama and Colombia. There is no road you can take and it’s called the Darien Gap. It’s essentially a gap between Central and South America. 

So here is what we are dealing with:

  1. We have to ship the car to South America or the closest port city – Cartagena, Colombia
  2. We also have to get to Colombia via plane somehow
  3. The extreme heat means Zoe can’t fly from anywhere near where we are soo we have to wait until it gets cooler or find somewhere cooler to fly out of

So what did we end up doing?

Step 1.  Ship Norma to South America

Drive and meet with Obed from Horizon Shipping to ship Norma from Houston to Cartegena, Colombia. Guess what Houston had in stock for us? Tropical Storm Imelda. While we are trying to do errands, the roads start flooding from the torrential downpour. There are signs that say

If the road is flooded, turn around, Don’t drown

We thought it was an exaggeration. NOPE. Highways get flooded, exit ramps get flooded, and we are all basically parked on the side of the highway waiting for the rain to stop. What should have taken us 1-hour roundtrip, ends up taking 6 hours.

Step 2. Find an airline that will take Zoe to Cartagena, Colombia.

This took a lot of research. There are some local airlines that fly direct to Colombia, but they don’t take pets because their airplanes are too small. Also, if we fly out at early in the morning in Houston, it’s cool enough, but Cartagena is too hot to fly into. Bogota  – a slightly cooler city in Colombia is more than ok. We’d just have to drive to Cartagena to pick up Norma later.

Air Canada is the only airlines that can via phone confirm that they will take pets no problem. The only catch? We have to go to Toronto and then fly directly from Toronto to Bogota. So! guess where we are? TORONTO!

Step 3. Get the Family to South America

Flying with a dog is very stressful. I confirmed on the phone with Air Canada with 2 separate agents that she is on our reservation, but when we arrive at the airport, the ticketing agent says she doesn’t see anything. So arriving 3 hours early provided to be a very good idea. Eventually, I get an agent on the phone and she also confirms again. So after an hour of talking to her, another agent on the phone and another actually helpful agent named Alex, we finally get her on the plane and we are good to go. We check just before we board that she has been loaded onto plane. Don’t want to leave her behind in Houston by accident.

When we land, the first thing we see is Zoe on the tarmac being taken out, that’s when we sighed with relief.

Now, we’re in Toronto for 4 days.

We need to get a vet certification and Canadian Food Inspection Agency to sign off on her health certification before we fly. Plus, she’s been through a lot and needs some fun hikes, food, and lots of naps to recuperate. Btw, lol all of this went down on my birthday. Happy Birthday to Me! Don’t worry, we went to Mandarin Buffet courtesy of our dear friends who sent Steve money to make sure I get something tasty.


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