Friday, May 13, 2011

Our trip to Ethiopia Day 1-travel

We spent the night at my parents’ house because they were going to drop us off at the airport. Vivi must have picked up on our excitement because she decided not to nap that day, and then when we went to Nana and Bapa’s of course she was all excited and bouncing around. We weighed our suitcases and rearranged some things while Vivi played with them. We all went to bed around 12:30, and got up at 3:30 to get to the airport at 4:30. We parked, checked our bags, said goodbye to my parents, and then got in line to go through security. They had a separate line for families of small children so we got to go right through. Vivi wasn’t thrilled about putting Tiana in the tub to go through the scanner and made sure everyone knew it. The security guys were so nice though, one told me to send Tiana in first, then run through the people scanner to watch her come out. As soon as she came out the other side, the guy running the scanner grabbed her out of the bin and gave her back to Vivi, and then she was all smiles.

We didn’t have too long to wait before getting on the plane to Washington DC. It was dark and stormy, and the plane was TINY-2 seats on one side, 1 seat on the other side and only like 20 rows. We had 1 flight attendant. Vivi was a little grumpy from not getting enough sleep, and didn’t like being strapped into her own seat on the plane. Then it was time for takeoff and she had a total meltdown. She screamed all the way up, and all the way down, and any time we hit turbulence (as we flew through the storms). It was an hour and a half flight that felt like years! As we were waiting to get off the plane a few people were saying “you made it!” to Vivi. One woman said “is this your home?” to which I replied “nope, we have a 13 hour flight to Ethiopia after this” and everyone looked quite relieved to not be going there with us. 

We deplaned onto the tarmac and Vivi was freaked out by the plane noises, so Eric picked up our carry-ons (we had to put them in the bottom of the plane because it was so small) and I ran through the rain, dodging puddles while carrying a screaming toddler. We were now officially DREADING the 13 hour flight! We had a 4 hour layover before leaving for Ethiopia so we took our time walking down there, then put the Tiana movie on and had some snacks.

As people started showing up at the gate, we were very encouraged by the amount of kids who would be on our plane. It’s nice to not be the only ones! The flight was made up mostly of Ethiopians with a handful of other adoptive parents going either to court or to pick up their child, and a mission group on their way to Malawi. I noticed a big change in attitude with the people on this flight. Other parts of the airport when Vivi was having a fit, we got all kinds of wary looks that clearly said “I hope you aren’t on my flight!” (which I totally understand and don’t blame them!) but at the gate to our Ethiopian flight, the kids were all running around, some of them touching other people’s things or fussing or doing other things that might have annoyed most American adults. But nobody so much as rolled an eye. If a baby was fussing, people would come over and sing a song, and if a kid was touching someone’s stuff, that someone would smile and talk to them. It was such a relaxed atmosphere!

Our plane came in from Ethiopia and we watched everyone come off the plane. There were 7 families returning home with their newly adopted children, it was so sweet to see, and got us so excited for our turn!

Vivi fell asleep for most of the layover but woke up when we stood up to get on the plane, and was not thrilled to be getting on another plane as we walked down the boarding dock. This plane was HUGE! 2 aisles, 9 seats in each row (in groups of 3) and a tv in the back of every headrest. The headphones for the tv were free to use and they had a bunch of movies and tv shows, as well as games and a slideshow of maps that showed all kinds of statistics about the flight, how far we were from our destination in miles and hours, how fast we were going and how high, and a cool map of the world that showed a line from Washington DC to Addis Ababa and a picture of a plane that followed the line so we could see where we were. 
We also got pillows and blankets, and little bags that had a sleep mask, a pair of socks, toothbrush and toothpaste. There were at least a dozen flight attendants who were all very friendly.

Vivi was upset at first, but Eric asked if we could keep our ipod touch on since it isn’t a phone (the first flight said all electronics must be off) and she said we could keep it on so Vivi got to watch “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast over and over while we took off. She still freaked out as we took off and hit some turbulence, but then she relaxed and the rest of the flight was awesome! 

We brought a lot of toys that kept Vivi occupied during the beginning of the flight, then she took another nap. They brought out dinner, we could choose salmon or beef. The salmon came with pasta and a chunky tomato sauce, and the beef came with mashed potatoes and some mixed veggies like zucchini in a yummy gravy.  It also came with a salad (complete with olives and tomatoes that made Vivi’s day), a roll, crackers, a chunk of cheese, and a yummy cheesecake for dessert. Vivi also discovered that when the flight attendants came by, she could ask them for “juice please” and she would get juice! We don’t give her juice at home so it was a special treat for her, and it kept her happy. 

A couple of hours into the flight they turned off the lights and a lot of people napped while others got up and wandered around. We talked to a couple of the other adoptive families and swapped stories, and Vivi enjoyed watching the babies on the plane. The flight attendants announced that we could go to the kitchen and help ourselves to sandwiches and drinks, while they went up to the 2nd floor to nap, so we took Vivi for a walk and got a sandwich and some juice, then tried to get some sleep. I don’t sleep well on planes or in cars because of my back, but I did get a couple of hours in. Then I passed the time watching tv shows on the plane tv and playing sudoku on the ipod touch. 

A couple of hours before the end of the flight, they turned the lights back on and brought around hot towels. I didn’t know what it was until I saw people in front of us washing their faces, and it was so refreshing! Then they brought breakfast out-a fruit cup, a roll, a croissant, butter and jam, and yogurt. We were quite well fed! The last 3 hours of the flight dragged on a little, but overall it was a pretty tolerable flight. 

Pretty soon, we started to descend and we got our first glimpses of Ethiopia!

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