Saturday, May 28, 2011

Travel Journal: Day 2

May 19, 2011

KLM Flight: Amsterdam to Addis Ababa
Arriving in Ethiopia

Dear Lil' Miss,

We have just arrived in Ethiopia (Africa!!!) after a loooong trip!!  Much to my disappointment, it is really too dark to see anything.  But at this point, all we care about is getting back to the hotel, settling in, and getting some rest before going to see YOU tomorrow! 

The rest of our first flight to Amsterdam went really smoothly!  Probably one of the smoothest flights and softest landings we’ve been on – and we’ve been on more than a few.  Food was delicious!  Pasta, salad and bread for lunch/dinner – very good, but VERY rich…we made sure to pop some pepto tablets after it so our stomachs wouldn’t hurt.  Somehow, as always, I still ended up eating too much too fast and felt full for quite a while (not comfortable on a plane).  We also had a small snack right before landing that I think was a croissant with pepper jack cheese melted into it?  Whatever it was – mmmm!  We BOTH were fans! 

We got off our flight at Amsterdam, however, and had NO idea where to go!  Most things were in Dutch (blast-it – why didn’t we learn more of that growing up?!?) and there were almost ZERO employees anywhere!  Daddy had to go seek someone out to show us where to go, and all they did was point us to a huge billboard and tell us to look for our flight.  It was sooo helpful (note the sarcasm).  It was several minutes until we saw “Addis Ababa 0545 Gate D07” on there and we could begin heading in that direction.  A couple gates down there was a check in center.  In Seattle, they had warned us to be sure to check in for our connecting flight because it was very full, so we took a moment to do that.  Of course it said we were already checked in, but then we noticed that our flight was leaving at 1:45 rather than 2:15!  And boarding at 1:09, when it was currently five minutes to 1:00 – let’s just say we BOOKED it, (!!!) ONLY to arrive to everyone just standing around in a big line.  It seriously seemed so unorganized and crazy – but it’s okay because we made it!  And honestly, it was a great opportunity to stretch and meet up with the other traveling families.

We went through a security check AT the gate (new for me) and then that put us in a small little room with everyone on who would be getting on board.  And then without a word, all of a sudden everyone got up and rushed into the corridor to get onto the plane.  We figured we better follow. =)

KLM was a pretty amazing flight – smooth and even more importantly, everyone was SOO friendly!  By the time we got on though, it was about midnight our time and we were exhausted.  Unfortunately, the plane was BOOKED (so booked that there was too much carryon luggage, so they had to check some in which caused delays) and even though the seats were more comfortable than the last flight, somehow the seats managed to be squeezed even closer together!  Ugh…I was feeling claustrophobic already!  I’m not exactly tall or large and my knees were PRESSED into the seat in front of me.  I started feeling that anxiety creep in, so I pulled out your little baby book I brought along to calm me down by reminding me WHY I was on this long, agonizing flight!  You are worth it baby!  =)

Off the plane - at last!
Love the cankles??  Stayin' true to my sexy side! =)
Shortly after we took off, I realized that I was not going to get any more comfy that I was, so I decided to take a sleeping pill to sleep.  NOT my best idea.  Although I seemed to get sleepy and doze off rather quickly, I woke up not much later feeling miserable.  Daddy said my skin was wet, cold, and clammy…but I felt like I was burning up and dripping with sweat.  On top of that my stomach was churning.  After a couple of “runs” to the bathroom (pun intended!) we figured out that I took that sleeping pill on an empty stomach!  And since my stomach was on the fritz even before that, I was in for a world of hurt.  I spare you all the gory details, but let me just say that I never wanted to be the girl who needed use of that paper bag on the airplane.  Twice.  Maybe three times.  During landing (in Khartoum, Sudan for refueling).  However, after the fact I began feeling much better by the time we landed in Addis – thankfully, since we had a huge wait to get our visas and go through immigration.

How does daddy always wind up looking breath-taking
after no sleep while mama looks mangled?
After visas, after immi- gration, after getting our luggage, and after going through customs we finally walked into the main part of the airport to look for our driver with that “AGCI” sign, but we couldn’t find one.  So our three families stood as the only 6 white people in an airport in Africa with no phones.  A really sweet man came up and offered to call our hotel for us.  Thank goodness for him, but we were informed (in a nice way) that we needed to tip for that service.  =)  *Found out later from HH staff that phone calls are quite expensive there, even for the locals!

Our driver showed up all apologetic (another family landed only 20 minutes before us but since our visa and custom lines took so long he ended up taking them back to the hotel and then came back for us) but it really wasn’t a huge deal.  We stepped out of the airport for the first time onto Ethiopian soil with tired smiles and loaded our stuff in the van that took us to the Riviera Hotel!

We were warned about the crazy driving, but since it was night there, there weren’t a lot of people on the roads so it wasn’t bad at all.  Although after a trip to the Dominican Republic…I don’t think it gets much worse than that and I feel kind of prepared for anything!  As we drove along the damp roads (yes, we left sunny Seattle to come to a rainy Africa – quite the rare phenomenon if you ask me!) I took in the smells, the sounds, and as much as I could see in the dark.  It strangely felt like home, for I had grown to love Ethiopia long before we had our tickets and itinerary! 

The hotel was closer than I thought, and even more beautiful than I had imagined!  The hotel lobby had beautiful flowers and crown molding and intricate chandeliers!  It was a beautiful!  And somehow we ended up with a HUGE room with a king size bed and beautiful old furniture (just a standard room - but it looked more like a suite to us)!  It is really just lovely here.

Our bed at the Riviera

Room 403

Great storage for suitcases and clothes

It was too dark to see at this hour, but beautiful view out the windows!

Bathroom (traveling families be sure to bring scented garbage
bags - you can't flush that toilet paper and the bags at least HELP with the stink)

Shower - and NO shower curtain...thankful
for the hand-held!

Just the start of our stash!

The pharmacy drawer =)

More snacks...

And MORE snacks...

Flower clips to bring to the girls @ HH!

My cankles and much-in-need-of-a-pedicure
toes after two days of traveling!
I was too antsy to climb straight in bed, even though it was close to midnight by the time we arrived, so I started unpacking and organizing the dresser while daddy crawled into bed.  It wasn’t long before he was begging me to turn off the lights, so we both turned in for the night.  Despite the unfamiliarity of our surroundings, we fell right asleep….for a whole 4 hours!

See you tomorrow love!!
Your Mama



Amy said...

Were you guys told not to flush the toilet paper at the hotel? I know you weren't supposed to at the old hotel but we did at The Riviera and didn't have a problem. We also had a shower curtain :)

So fun to hear about your trip and I can't wait to read about day 3!!!

Mindy said...

Megan, I am ADORING your travel journal!!! Thank you for sharing! I love the pictures of the Riviera - so neat to see what we will be seeing! Love, love, love all the details - can't wait for more!!!!

MamaMimi said...

Now that I think about, no one at the hotel said anything about flushing toilet paper....that was just from other families. But others from our travel group were having problems with sewer it was probably for the best. Because THAT made the bathroom stink even worse!

The Mulder Family said...

I am having so much fun reading and following your international adoption makes me think about "maybe" someday. I felt horrible you felt horrible on the plane ick...I hate planes too!!!

Erika Reiner said...

I think the focus being a journal TO lil miss is just brilliant! writing to her so that one day she can read and see your journey.

Note to self: eat BEFORE sleeping pills. I was thinking I would need something to sleep and for anxiety on those flights and wouldn't have known either. Good tip!!! I will be a newbie to those kinds of RXs.

Kim said...

I love that you're journaling all of this, too!!