Monday, November 21, 2011

November 21, 2011 - Leaving on a Jet Plane (Moving Part 7)

This is how our departure from Nairobi was supposed to go:

Movers and everyone leave house by 6 pm.  Somehow manage to eat dinner (note: this is the one part I had not figured out ahead of time).  Two taxis will arrive to take us to the airport at 8:30 pm.  Flight departs at 11:40 pm.  8 1/2 hours later we will land in Paris.  3 hour layover in Paris before 90 minute flight to Denmark.  Arrive in Denmark at 11:20 am on Saturday.  Grace and Noah will have wonderful reunion with Farmor and Hans in the afternoon; Mama and Far will sleep.

This is how our departure from Nairobi actually went:

Movers and everyone leave house by 6 pm.  CHECK.

Dinner:  never managed to figure that out but sent emergency text message to friend (thank you, Meaghan Wilson, if you're reading this) "is there any way you can facilitate getting us some dinner?!"  30  minutes later she shows up with a packed picnic of spaghetti and meatballs, in addition to Cheez-Its, pudding and juice boxes for the kids, and 2 large cold beers for me and Kristoffer.  She was amazing!

Just prior to eating the dinner we get a phone call from Kenya Airways: due to fog in Paris our flight has been delayed by 3+ hours and now leaves at 3 am.  We were expected to miss our connection to Denmark and were told that we had been put on the next flight which would leave 10 hours later, but that during the 10 hours we would be given accommodation. Awesome!

We ate, we bathed the children, we tried desperately to get them to sleep.  Somehow that eventually worked; Grace slept in her empty bedroom on a bed made of towels and blankets in the exact same spot that her real bed used to be.  It was an image that I will never forget.  Noah slept for a bit in the stroller and then we managed to get him lying on another bed of towels and coats on the floor.  Also very cute.  What was NOT great about this situation was the absence of mosquito nets:  both kids got seriously chomped on by mosquitos.  About 10 bites each!  Once they were asleep we were able to shower and properly re-pack our bags to go.  Then we also slept on the floor of our very empty house.

At midnight the 2 taxis arrived.  We locked up and slipped the key under the door.  Grace said, "Bye bye house!"  We learned that with absolutely no traffic you can get to the airport from our house in under 25 minutes!  That had never been done before!

At that hour the airport was easy and breezy and calm and quiet.  Totally not the JKIA we are used to. At "check in", I was told that the plane only has 2 baby bassinets and they were already given to other passengers with babies, even though I confirmed 3 times previously that I had the bassinet for the flight.  I tried to be very calm about it (remember my last airport meltdown?) and did not pitch a fit.  Also, Kristoffer's seat was not anywhere near the rest of us.  Boo hiss.

We asked a very nice passenger to swap seats with Kristoffer, which he so kindly did.  So we were together and the kids managed to sleep for most of the first 3 1/2 hours (or at least Grace did; Noah woke up like every 20 minutes and nursed back to sleep.  It was not ideal.). Yes I had to hold Noah the whole time.  Then the next 5 hours they were mostly awake.  Grace watched DVDs - thank you God for inventing DVDs by the way - and Noah squirmed endlessly.  Kristoffer and I talked about sleeping in Denmark.  

When it looked like there might be a small chance of us making our connection, Kristoffer asked the cabin crew about it.  They didn't offer to call ahead and inquire or tell them we were coming or anything, but said we should talk to someone when we deplaned.  

So, after 8 1/2 hours on that plane, we got off.  We were denied our gate-checked stroller because there is a strict rule against that in Paris, which we were NOT told about in Kenya.  So we ran, ran, ran, each of us carrying one child and some bags, to try and catch our flight.  We were given various bad or wrong directions by different people as to where to go/how to make our flight.  We could see it blinking on the screen - WAITING FOR US NO DOUBT - but we couldn't seem to get there in time.  Before we even figured out how to get the bus to get to the right terminal, it was gone.  Sigh.  

Then there was some drama where we were told we had not been booked seats on the next flight to Denmark and that it was full and we might have to wait until the next morning.  We were told to go to the Kenya Airways office in another terminal because they were the only ones who could sort the problem out, except then we found out that there is NO Kenya Airways terminal in Paris.  Obviously.  

While the children passed out and slept on the floor - see picture below - I managed to find an extremely lovely and competent and wonderful Air France customer service person who did actually serve this customer.  She got us booked on the flight and checked us in so that the only thing we had to do was wait for 8 more hours for our flight.  And, by the way, there was no accommodation provided to us because our layover was not overnight.  Basically, everything the Kenya Airways person told me on the phone the night before and at the airport was wrong.

When the kids woke up again we took the bus to the correct terminal, we found a row of seats and camped out for the next 8 hours.  Grace watched DVDs and made up games to play.  Noah squirmed and crawled and nursed (that is ALL he seemed to want to do for the entire trip, by the way), and repeat. Kristoffer and I still talked about sleeping in Denmark.  We really don't remember how we managed to survive those 8 hours sitting and laying on the floor in a very small Parisian airport terminal.  But we did.

At 8:10 pm our flight left for Denmark.  All four of us slept on this small commuter 90 minute flight.  When we landed, our luggage came out promptly.  Farmor was waiting for us with warm winter jackets and yummy snacks.  It was wonderful.

Noah cried for most of the 45-minute drive home...because really after 24 hours of travel already, who wants to be buckled into a car seat for even 1 more minute!!!  Grace was pretty tired and calm and happy to be with Farmor (I don't think I have yet given Grace enough credit for being amazing throughout this travel saga).  Then we sort of hit a deer on the road! We just grazed him (or her) as he (or she) was running across the road.  Scared the heck out of us (or me, at least), but no damage was done...and really it was a climactic t ending to our dramatic day.

We arrived home to a waiting Hans with more yummy food and sweet gifts and the most comfortable beds to sleep in ever.  Pretty much after 1 week of sleeping only 4 hours a night MAX, I think we've never been happier to go to sleep.  In Denmark.

Now we've had two great days of rest and relaxation and home-cooking.  It might not be Life in Nairobi, but Life in Transition is so far so good!  


No comments: