No, I’m not the crying baby. But I am a nervous traveler at the best of times, so the prospect of being turned away at the immigration desk because we did not have the correct paper work had put me a little on edge. Despite everyone’s attempts to assuage my fears I convinced myself that this was a real possibility. You see, the date of issue on our Swedish residence permit cards was a full week after our actual date of arrival. Moreover, we were flying into Denmark (not Sweden) with no backup visas or backup plans. I’d been assured by our case worker at the migration board that this would not be a problem (apparently you’re just allowed to arrive a bit early?!) but the image of our unceremonious deportation was seared onto my brain. My most elaborate worst-case-scenario-response-plan involved buying two last minute tickets to Ireland (that’s the closest place to Sweden that South Africans can visit without needing a visa) and biding our time until we could legally return. Unsurprisingly, none of that came to pass. We were greeted by possibly the friendliest Danish customs officer in all existence, who seemed positively thrilled that we had chosen to move to Europe. But I digress.

The crying baby was a permanent feature on our 19 hour journey from Cape Town to Copenhagen, the first leg of which mercifully ended in Dubai. I’ve never seen an infant in so much distress, or a mother with so much patience. She calmly (I say calmly, but I am now convinced that it was the look of vacant serenity that one sometimes associates with the mentally ill) rocked her child in her arms as it fought tooth and nail to escape her clutches, whilst filling the cabin with what I can only describe as the most piercing and unrelenting of screams I have ever had the displeasure of hearing. Did I mention that they were in the seat in front of us? Fortunately there were no unexpected delays and we arrived in Dubai with just enough time for an overpriced cup of coffee in the bustling terminal.

The next leg of the journey was a vast improvement. We were on one of the brand new double-decker Airbus A380-400’s. Very fancy. And quiet! The crying baby was now at least 5 or 6 rows in front of us and had tired somewhat, making its outbursts more sporadic, so we could semi-appreciate the reduced engine noise. I made several trips to the bathroom on that flight, not least to enjoy how roomy it was, but mostly in the hopes of sneaking a peak upstairs at first class or any of its mysterious inhabitants. No luck on that front I’m afraid. Once safely in Copenhagen (immigration dusted) the only remaining potential spanner in the works was the matter of the luggage. Ash’s suitcase was the main concern as it contained not only his chef’s knives but also his paintball gun and its various accouterments. Note to self: its probably best not to travel with guns and knives. But we lucked out again and everything arrived in tact and on time. All that remained was the train journey from Kasstrup to Lund Centraal (a breeze) and for Omar, the Uber driver to drop us on the doorstep of our new apartment in Dag Hammarsjoldsvag (still learning how to pronounce that properly). Homeless no more!

Planes, trains and automobiles: the tale of a crying baby