I had accepted my jet lagged schedule of going to bed at 8pm and waking up at 2am as a blessing, because we had to leave for the airport at 5am and I was worried all week that we would miss it. I put Jubilee to bed, did some packing, then went to bed. I got up around 2, took a shower, and packed up the last of our things. When Jubilee woke up about an hour later, we didn't have much else to do, so I figured we'd just leave to make sure we were there on time. I called down to the desk and asked for the bellhop to come get our things and checked out of the hotel while the bellhop hailed a taxi and loaded our bags into it. Janice had wanted us to take a bus to an airport check-in location where I could get rid of the bags before having to go to the airport, but the bus station didn't open until too close to our flight leaving and I didn't want to risk it. My crazy plan was to rely on the kindness of strangers-in a country where strangers don't help other strangers, no matter how pathetic they look.
The ride to the airport was dark and boring until I absentmindedly started reading the fare charts and realized there were a bunch of extra fees for a taxi to the airport-baggage fees, extra mileage, etc. I started pulling out my cash and counting it-the amount I had been told was either lost in translation, or someone forgot to add the baggage fees. I spent the rest of the trip staring at the meter and recounting my money.
When we got to the airport, it was still dark and looked pretty deserted. I had a baby, a stroller, a diaper bag, and 2 giant suitcases. The taxi driver pulled all of my things out, looked at me, and ran over to grab a cart. He used hand motions to ask if I was going to get into the building by myself-I don't think he was able to walk away from the cab to help me and we weren't able to pull right up to the doors like you can at home. I said I'd figure it out, thanked him, and ever so slowly started to make my way toward the door. The luggage cart was not made to be pushed with one hand, and neither was the umbrella stroller, so my weight was going back and forth between straightening the path of the cart, and then straightening the stroller. About halfway there, 2 men from India (thank you world travelers!) were bringing their bags in and one man left his suitcase to come and help me. He even asked his friend to hold his suitcase while he helped me find my check in counter, a 5 minute walk from his. He spoke English, so we made small talk, and when we got to my check in, he asked if I was sure I could take it from there. There were already other people hanging out there, so I assured him I'd figure it out or ask for help from someone here. He pointed out a bench I could sit on and as he was parking the luggage cart nearby, the man I sat next to was asked where he was from and he said "Michigan". What are the odds?! He also had a toddler daughter at home, and he made sure I got my bags checked and put the cart away for me.
Now that we were there on time and checked in, I was able to relax, laugh a little at all the crazy situations of the past 12 hours, and we went to McDonalds for breakfast. They had a very different menu, especially for breakfast!-pasta, fish sandwich, burger. I went with the breakfast platter-pancakes, eggs, and sausage to share.
Soon it was time to get on the plane. Jubilee was excited to have her own seat and start playing with the buckle, the magazines in the seat pocket, and opening and slamming the tray table, but when it came time to take off, she got a little nervous. Luckily she had been up for a few hours at that point so she fell asleep.
And when she woke up they had passed out snacks and headphones to watch movies
We were kept well fed! We had a choice of American food or Japanese food on the flight to Japan, I got one of each, figuring that way I'd definitely find food for Jubilee to eat.
We landed in Japan and went through the loong line at customs. Japan has strict rules about liquids, they won't even let you buy a Starbucks inside the airport and take your cup on the plane (that happened to the lady behind me). I pulled out all the baby food I thought I had in the diaper bag, but I had packed as many snacks as I could in every corner of the diaper bag, so got pulled aside and they kept having to run my bag through and hand it back, telling me there was more liquid somewhere. They ended up emptying the entire bag and were very friendly and understanding about it, but when they were satisfied that my only liquids were baby food, they moved on to the next person and left me there with a pile of stuff to repack.
I have no idea what all of this was in the airport bathroom!
The trip from Japan to the US was long, but not too bad. Jubilee slept through quite a bit of it. As the plane was landing, the man who was sitting in our row complimented Jubilee's behavior on the plane and asked if she had flown a lot. I explained that this was her first trip and that I had just adopted her and was bringing her home. He was shocked, he said we seemed so in sync and so connected, he couldn't believe we had only known each other for a few days <3 He wished us the best and pretty soon we were heading off the plane, with just one more stop at immigration before getting to see the rest of our family!