Travel Journals [Retold] Day 2

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Today is day two of our Travel Journals Retold, in celebration of the 5 year anniversary of bringing our daughter home. If you are just now tuning in…I suggest that you go back one post (or click HERE) to catch up.

May 19, 2011
KLM Flight: Amsterdam to Addis Ababa
Arriving in Ethiopia

Dear Cocoa,

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! But I couldn’t possibly go to sleep without sharing about our day…

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 carry-on 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!

Shortly after we took off, I realized that I was not going to get any more comfy than 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 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.

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Those cankles…

After visas, immigration, getting our luggage, and 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 lovely 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.

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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!

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Elevate those swollen feet!

See you tomorrow love!!
Your Mama

*Continue to follow our Travel Journals to Day 3

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