Friday, March 4th, we woke up early to finish some last minute cleaning and packing. From there Jason, my brother-in-law, arrived with my nephew, Jake, to drive us to the airport to board the plane that would take us halfway across the world to our little boy. Nicki and the girls followed later so that they could send us off too. These first pictures are of us at the airport with all of our luggage. We packed all of our items in carry-on bags, so the huge trunk and big suitcase are full of donations for the orphanage. Love Jake peeking out from behind the trunk :).
Now, the bad news and really a lesson for all of those traveling with large suitcases. When we arrived at the check-in counter the airline employee set our large trunk on the scale and told us that we were over the weight limit (we already knew this) and that the trunk was also over the size limit. Since Liam is a member of the military, we were allowed to fly with five checked bags, which we did not know with three of the five weighing no more than 70 pounds. Because we did not call before, we thought that we were only allowed one checked item each. Anyway, the overweight charge was $200, which we did not know (thought it would be around $50) and the over sized charge was an additional $200! So, do you see the moral of the story yet? If you're not 100% sure, check. Thankfully, we had brought an extra suitcase and bag and quickly moved some items from the big trunk into the smaller items. Unfortunately, however, we weren't able to fit everything, so we'll have to bring the other donations on our second trip. Oops!
Once we maneuvered past all of that headache and had our bags successfully checked, we said good-bye to Jason, Nichole and the kids and boarded the airplane that would take us first to Chicago, then Germany, and the to Ethiopia and the sweetest little boy imaginable.
I've discovered something new about myself. As I get older, my nerves have become more and more frazzled. Normally, airplanes don't bother me, but the last few years I've developed a little fear of flying. I'm fine once we're in the air, but the taking-off and landing leave me a bit white-knuckled and nauseous. So, there I was sitting in my seat, one hand grasping the arm of my chair, the other cutting off the circulation in Liam's hand, praying every prayer that I knew that God would lead us safely there and home again.
We arrived in Chicago around 5pm (their time) without any incidence. We had a bit of a layover, so we ate some supper and called family to let them know that we had completed the first leg of our trip. The flight to Germany was the longest, nearly 8 hours, but luckily I managed to sleep about half of it. I also watched the first of 6 movies on our trip, The King's Speech, which I highly recommend. We only had about two hours in Germany, so we zoomed around and went through another security check. Liam wanted to eat a weiner snitzle (?) so badly, but we didn't know if they sold it at the airport, so he settled for a chicken curry sandwich. Then we went through yet another security clearance, discovered that we would have to check our two carry-on suitcases, and waited about half an hour to board the airplane. While we were in the security check line, we met a Canadian couple that were also adopting a child from Ethiopia. Like us, they were also flying for their court date on March 8th. We spoke for a bit and then boarded the plane to Addis Ababa. The flight this time was 6 hours, of which I slept one, and watched The Switch and Burlesque.
We arrived in Addis around 9pm (their time) on Saturday, March 5th. We went through customs rather quickly and since we already had our visas, we were able to skip this part. The couple behind us in line, the Anderson's, were also adopting with Holt, so we met the first couple that would be sharing this incredible journey with us.
As we left the main part of the airport, we were met immediately by a driver from the Jemimah Guesthouse. We waited for the Anderson's (who, unfortunately, the airline had lost one of their bags and they were trying to sort it out) and another woman, Margaret, and her mother-in-law, Pat. Once all of our party arrived, the driver drove us to the guesthouse and we checked in and learned that we would be driving to Durame the next day (not the day after as we had been told previously) to see our son! This was such welcome news. I don't know if it was just the jet lag or the excitement of the moment, but I slept about 2 hours that night. To be continued...
Below are a few pictures of the Jemimah Guesthouse, the family room on the second floor (with the computers), the main lobby and our room: