Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Travel Journal Trip 2: Day 1&2

June 24-25, 2011


***I'm combining Day 1&2 here b/c...in all the time changes, I really have no idea where Day 1 ended and Day 2 began!  =) ***

Dear Lil' Miss,

Well the time has come - we are on our way again!  But THIS time...it's to bring you HOME!!!  Words can't describe how excited we are!  As you know from our detailed travel journal of trip 1...flying is NOT my favorite pastime.  But when it comes to bringing YOU home sweet girl...I would fly to the moon and back (twice...in our case).

Since Grandma and Grandpa had a camping trip planned for this very weekend, they decided to pick up your big brother a night early so that they could head out at their scheduled time.  So daddy and I met Grandma halfway last night at Red Robin and Monkey went (happily) back home with her.  We spent our last night in our home before you came home childless - it was a very odd feeling, I must admit!  (And a first for us since Monkey was born.)  But it was also great to get a sound night of sleep before the big trip.

We went to bed late and woke up early - per the normal when mommy is excited about something.  Our friend (and fellow adoptive mama) Darcee arrived bright and early to take us to the airport.  A true friend...she came prepared with chocolate and caffeine!!!  =)  What a GEM, right?!?  Because we had ran into some delays checking in for our last trip, daddy wanted to be uber prepared this time around.  =)  I am VERY glad we arrived so early though because there was quite the line for check in.  We got through with no problems (they didn't even question our luggage this time around, but just in case I had printed our the luggage requirements and highlighted the portion about allowing two checked bags and included that with my itinerary) and were on our way to our gate.  It felt like dejavu as we went to the same little shop and ordered the same lunch before we took the same flight we had just one month prior.  As we sat down by our gate, we logged onto paypal to check our balance (since we had just posted on FB for help to fund our remaining costs for the trip).  We shed tears of joy and nearly jumped for joy when we saw that we were going to be blessed with getting on that flight FULLY FUNDED!!!    Praise God!!!!!  We polished off our early lunch and were on that flight in no time (okay...it actually was quite some time...but in the grand scheme of the trip it was relatively short).

Thankfully our first flight was fairly un- eventful.  No com- plaints there.  But when we arrived at the Amsterdam airport, we noticed our flight was delayed a couple hours.  In comparison to our last trip, we knew this was nothing to complain about...so we took the opportunity to stretch our legs and update FB.  When it came close to the boarding time, we arrived back at the gate and waited in line to go through security.  We met a mission group in line who were from the Netherlands...they were so sweet to talk to!  They laughed when we explained that we were Dutch....they agreed that I looked Dutch, but they doubted that your daddy was.  Always puts a smile on my face! =)

Our KLM plane getting ready for departure

Halfway there....ugh!

This was the leg I was most stressed about.  I tried my best to focus on your sweet face being the reason for this flight, but it was not easy.  Same as before, the flight was packed.  I was very thankful for the compression socks I purchased shortly before our trip as they were saving the shape of my feet and ankles!  Despite the hour plus delay we had leaving Amsterdam, the pilot insisted we would arrive close to our originally scheduled time (which was a relief to us, knowing that Riviera staff would be waiting for us at the airport).  However, extreme circumstances prevented that from happening.  In the middle of our flight (during lunch, I think...which was unappetizing due to my sensitive stomach) the pilot requested a medical doctor.  We knew something wasn't right, but hoped for the best.  A man a couple rows behind us stood up and came back just a few minutes later, so we assumed all was well.  But just a couple hours later the pilot announced that we were going to have to make an emergency landing in Cairo because a passenger needed medical attention in a hospital.  So much for making good time!  We could definitely tell it was an emergency because that was the roughest landing we had ever experienced!!!  It was extremely bumpy and the pilot slammed on the breaks so hard that we had to brace our arm on the seat ahead of us in order not to hit our heads.  Our hearts were pounding a bit and we were anxious to move around a bit...but we were asked to stay seated so that the medics could get the passenger off the plane in a timely fashion.  It didn't take terribly long before we were told we could move about the cabin.  But it was extremely hot in Cairo (over 100, although I don't remember the exact temperature).

Once we were able to move about the cabin again, passengers began questioning one another as to what had happened.  No one seemed to know for sure, but someone sitting up near her mentioned to me (in the line for the bathroom) that there was some stomach bleeding.  Later the stewardess told me that they thought the woman was pregnant and confirmed that there was bleeding.  Never learned of the exact details, but that was probably more than enough information for my ears.

We probably spent close to two hours on the ground in Cairo, all of us anxious to get in the air again.  Well...kind of.  Ready to get to our destination would be more like it.  But they had to get the passenger's luggage off, and then reload luggage back on....blah blah blah.  It took what seemed like forever, but eventually we were airborne again.  A short while later we landed in Khartoum for re-fueling.  If it had been for re-fueling alone, I'm sure they would have done that in Cairo and skipped this stop, but we also had about half of the passengers getting OFF of the plane.  No complaints there...any extra breathing room was good for me!  Another two hours later (seriously) and we were on the last leg.  LAST.

Although the pilot did his best to make up time in the air...after taking off late and two stops, we were three hours late.  So much for Riviera staff meeting us at the hotel....we were SURE they wouldn't still be there at this point.  We rushed off the plane and didn't stop for pictures this time =) to make sure to get in the front of the Visa line.  Our hurrying paid off and we got through in minutes rather than an hour or so like last time.  Then through the immigration line and then to get our luggage.  We spotted two of them right away, and I stood guard over them while daddy searched for our other two.  Before we knew it people were clearing out and the luggage belt had now gone around several times.  I started getting nervous but daddy told me I wasn't allowed to worry until there was something to worry about.  He went to talk to the airport staff to see if more luggage was still coming, but that had been the last of it.  We watched it circle a couple more times before we headed over to the (for lack of a better word) "Lost & Found" desk and report our luggage missing.  When we took inventory of what HAD made it, we noticed that the two suitcases in our possession were only our donations.  Immediately I was calculating what was in our lost luggage and what was in our carry-on...it didn't take long to realize we were going to be short a lot of essentials on this trip.  Now this is the point the hyperventilation started up...something I do well.  Again, daddy was telling me we didn't KNOW it was lost so let's just calm down.  I was very thankful I had packed almost everything baby related in my carry-on, but I also knew that meant I had nothing for me.  No food, no medications, no hair products, no underwear, no change of clothes...the list went on.  WHY couldn't this have happened on our LAST trip (if at all)???  I knew that we didn't even have enough diapers to make the entire trip.  Thankfully our donation suitcases were FULL of those...but those were supposed to go to the ORPHANAGE!  There was no getting around my panic now, and I'm afraid I barked at the staff a little bit.  They kind of laughed at my flustered frustration...not in a mocking way...just because they knew it would get here when it got here and that was that!  End of story.  They took our description of our missing luggage and while they did their thing on their computer, daddy ran through the last security check to see if anyone from the Riviera WAS waiting....and indeed they WERE!!!  They had waited the extra three hours for us...PLUS all this time through Visa, immigration, and now our dealing with lost luggage.  The kind man was MORE than ready to leave and all smiles when he saw your dad's face....of course, we had bad news to deliver.  Being the patient man he was, he waited kindly for us.

It sounded like the earliest they would be able to get our luggage to us was on Tuesday...you know...TWO DAYS before we had to LEAVE!!!  Daddy sternly told them that was NOT. good. enough.  But at the end of the day, we were exhausted from 24 hours (plus) of travel and ready to go lay down, knowing that whether we had our luggage or NOT, tomorrow was coming...and the most important thing was YOU.  We gave the airport our contact information at the hotel and through Hannah's Hope and left empty-handed.

Our driver...or actually, he didn't drive...but the staff-member from the Riviera led us out of the airport (carrying our luggage for us) and to the parking lot and picked up his cell phone to call the driver.  Where we were waiting, there was a driver from another hotel who offered to let us sit in his van because it was very windy that night.  We kindly declined and said we had been sitting on an airplane for two days.  He kept telling us how cold it was, and we laughed explaining we were from Seattle where this would be considered warm!  =) He was a very kind man and entertaining to talk to.  It wasn't long before the Riviera van showed up and they loaded our luggage on.  We quickly climbed in, anxious to get to the hotel.  Then the man from the other hotel's van came and poked his head into the van asking for a tip....are you kidding me?!?  For what?  Talking to us?  Ugh...this was the first time we felt someone here ask for a tip unnecessarily.  Because he was a kind man though, daddy handed over a dollar anyway, and he seemed more than pleased with that.  He left and we were {finally} on our way!

It is a little frustrating that every time we arrived in Ethiopia it was dark.  One of my favorite things is driving around the city so you can see everything...and that's just not possible at night.  I guess that just means we'll need to come back!! =)

Check in at the Riviera was great....they all remembered us from just a month ago and were very accommodating.  Despite my request, we got room 207.  I was a little disappointed...that was, until we actually SAW it.  The room was just as big and spacious as room 307, still had internet, one floor above the S family, and turned out that it didn't have the stink issues of room 307.  So I would highly recommend it to anyone planning their trips to Ethiopia in the near future! =)  Not to mention the higher you are...the more stairs you have to climb...and at that altitude, it is exhausting no matter HOW in shape you are!  =)

Without even unpacking (well...what was there to unpack, right?) we hopped into bed and hoped to go straight to sleep.  However, we had a very noisy group one floor above us.  They were listening to music, and laughing hysterically....at 1am we ended up calling reception to ask them to be quiet.  Only minutes later we heard a loud knock up there (yes, thin walls!) and we don't remember much after that....

In the morning, you're OURS sweet girl!
Your Mama


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