There we were...sitting on the plane with 36 hours of travel ahead of us. We were tired and thinking, "We've already been awake for17 hours...now this?" Honestly, once I sat down in the plane seat, Ethiopia still seemed days away. Sleep was sounding nice.
But sleep did not and would not come for the entire journey. We arrived in MN feeling like we were at a mini-vacation spot as we headed down to the baggage claim to meet my brother, Jon. After some phone calls (they live quite close to the airport) and a couple trips to his house (I forgot to mention that we needed a carseat), we were sitting with them at their lovely home. We couldn't have asked for a more relaxing morning as we sat, talked, went for a walk, ate lunch, and even got to see Jon's school. I phoned the boys for what would be the last time I heard their voice until we returned. I am glad I did not know this as we were talking.
Time sneaked up on us and our mini-vacation was over. Time for more airports. Off we went.
It is a blur, really. The security lines, the cramped seats, accommodating (and not so accommodating) stewardesses, fussy baby, happy baby, too tired to read...too excited to sleep. We watched movies on and off in an attempt to pass the time and silence the progression monitor yelling out how long we had yet to go. Oliver did well...despite some fits of crying from hunger and even worse fits out of anger at our audacity to try to feed him formula.
My favorite part of international travel was not missed: watching as we slowly went from being the total majority to seeing and hearing the sounds of foreign cultures, to being the obvious minority. This has always intrigued me and, as we sat waiting to board our plane to Ethiopia it was all the more apparent. We met an Ethiopian man and his family from Washington...headed back after 20 years for a visit. We also met the questioning glances from the many other Ethiopian or Sudanese travelers. I was almost certain, from the path of their eyes, that they were disapproving of Oliver lying on the floor. However, I was not about to pick him up: the poor kid was happy to finally be down and stretched out. I did move down to the floor with him. I wondered how we would survive in Africa with our relaxed style of parenting. I knew that we would never see these people again, but they are the countrymen of our son and I deeply wanted their approval.
It was finally time to board. After three hours and three not-so-great coffees (one spilled) it was time to board. We took our spot at the beginning of the line (thank you Oliver) and prepared for the security ordeal again. I heard my name called out (totally unexpected in a foreign airport) and turned around to see Krista (adoption agency staff) and Ryan (our social worker). They were on their way to pick up their baby as well! We talked awhile and then they took their place at the end of the line as we went ahead. Through the check stations and up to the front for questioning...again. Apparently we were supposed to have a paper ticked for Oliver. Each time we were pulled aside and questioned about this. It was never a problem, but each time had me holding my breath. Another couple was there with us with a five month old baby. They lived in Addis and were returning from the states.
I can't say why seeing these two sets of people made me feel so at ease. I was thoroughly enjoying being the minority and soaking in the feeling of being foreign; yet I was thrilled to see them. I felt as though until now maybe we had been on the wrong flight...but there were others from where we were from...so we must be doing something right. Josh will laugh. I am sure he did not feel at all like this, and I can't say why I did. That's just how I felt.
The flight did not seem as long: the last leg rarely does. Yes, it would be hours, but in our minds we were almost there.