05 February 2013

Peace at Last! ...almost

Well, we're back to normal life again!  After four months in America, our family reached our home in Shirati on Saturday afternoon, and we were pretty much asleep on our feet!  It's become a little tradition for me to write a recap of our travel adventures, and they are some of people's favorite posts, apparently, so here's the story of this most recent journey.

Wednesday, 30 January
I am big on making plans, but regardless of my best-laid plans, I always seem to spend the last hours of my time in America rushing around trying to get things done.  This time was no exception.  Tuesday night our whole family helped with last minute packing (extra thanks to Bryan and Nancy for coming through with a vacuum sealer and an extra carry-on suitcase!), so Wednesday morning was just me trying to organize our left-behind items and do a little cleaning.  Around 11am we left my parents house to pick up my mom at work in Woodburn and meet my dad at the airport.  We had four checked bags weighing 200 lbs total, two carry-on suitcases weighing about 35 lbs each, our "personal items" each weighed a bunch also, plus the diaper bag.  Checking in, security and goodbyes all went smoothly, and we shuffled ourselves and our things aboard a two hour flight to Long Beach.  A five-hour layover (and $9 burrito!) later, we boarded a five-hour overnight flight to Washington, DC.

Thursday, 1 February
We arrived at Dulles in a rather poor state of mind.  Fred and I hadn't slept much, even though Wesley was doing well on the flights.  We had to pick up our luggage, wait for the Emirates counter to open, then check in all over again.  This time we ran into difficulties because a.) one of our trunks had been broken between Portland and DC, and b.) Emirates has begun enforcing a weight limit on carry-on luggage and was weighing each piece!  We were far, far beyond the weight capacity on three of our pieces, and there was obviously no weight to spare in our checked bags.  I was despairing what to do, because we certainly hadn't planned on paying $50 each for three additional bags!  This is where your prayers for travel mercies were answered in ways we wouldn't have known to ask for.  The trunk with a broken latch was easily repaired with a roll of heavy tape that happened to be on the very top in that trunk.  The check-in attendant reminded me that we had an additional free piece of checked luggage for Wesley, and then she waived the fees for two other bags to be checked in!  Relieved of an immense burden, both psychological and physical, we breezed through further security and parked at the gate.  Thanks to Dan for a $15 Starbucks card, on which we feasted while waiting for our plane.

I have already raved about the way Emirates treats families, and our 12-hour flight to Dubai just confirmed that.  They like to put all the families together in the bulkhead row, if possible, so that we can benefit from the increased leg room--a huge asset in navigating on board child care.  Wesley continued his pattern of being relaxed and charming everyone around us, but I still didn't get much sleep, sadly.

Friday, 2 February
We arrived in the Dubai Airport, which has one of the greatest things ever: complimentary strollers for use in the airport!  We took full advantage of that, since we had to go through transfer security and cross the whole airport.  So grateful that we didn't have our three heavy carry-on bags!  Our last American dollars bought some drinks while we waited to board our flight to Nairobi.  That flight went smoothly, and, to our surprise and delight, Kenyan immigration and customs were a breeze!  Fred's cousin, Francis, was waiting to help us transfer ten bags and a baby to a taxi.  Fred, Francis and our other friend Francis arranged the bags and bus tickets and some grocery shopping while Wesley and I visited some friends in Nairobi.  Then, after a two hour delay, our overnight bus to the Tanzanian border departed.  Wesley and I got some good sleep on the bus, and as the sun rose, Fred got off the bus near Innocent's school and we rode all the way to the border with the bags.  While Fred picked up Innocent from school, our friends Eric and Liz Soard picked the baby and me up at the border.  Liz and I got to have some great conversation while our babies played together on the floor.  Finally, Fred and Innocent arrived, we got a public car, loaded our luggage and left for our last leg of the trip home.  By early afternoon Saturday (around 2am PST), we had reached home.  After a bit of unpacking and dinner, we all collapsed into bed.

Whew!  Not our most adventurous trip, to be sure, but thank the Lord for that!  We found our home in great condition, thanks to our friend Rebecca who stayed here while we were gone, and Rick will be glad to hear that our fence did come under attack while we were gone, but the man who does our yard work kept it in good repair.  Wesley, after winning the traveler-of-the-year award, is now suffering jet lag which makes him cranky.  We found Innocent in poor health, because he was apparently not eating well at school.  Fred and I have allergies, and we're looking for a new school for Innocent, so we've had to hit the ground running, but it's good.  Life is good.

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