Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Travel Chronicles

We are in Ethiopia and praising God we made it safely. Upon disembarkation of the plane, A took a deep inhale and said, “Hey, it smells like Ethiopia!”

Thanks for your many prayers offered on behalf of our travel. It’s 1:43 am and jet lag is in full swing.

Our trip was riddled by inconvenience, but, praise God, we stayed in fairly good humor. Our kids did amazing and we know to thank God for all the answered prayers.

Trip Chronicles: I was going to write it down for our personal memories but think it makes for a good story to share.

Our tradition has been to arrive 3 hours early at our small local airport, check our obnoxious amount of luggage and then leave and eat lunch at Chick-Fil-A and then say our final goodbyes. We get back to the airport right before our flight and it’s TRADITION. My girls love tradition.

We arrived at the airport and heard the news that our flight has been cancelled. If we waited for the next available flight on American Airlines, we would miss our international flight (the reserved bassinets) and have to wait two days before the next flight. Our we could board a United flight in one hour. 

Opting for the United flight, was a bit of a hassle as we suddenly had to pay for all of our luggage as United is not an affiliate with our international carrier, Qatar. An additional hassle (though we didn’t realize how big) …

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Let’s just say it was a big deal that instead of checking it through to our international flight, we needed to reclaim it in Chicago, and recheck it in the international terminal.

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So, instead of our lunch tradition of Chick-Fil-A and sweet goodbye, there was no time for lunch, we gave quick hugs, comforted the girls and rushed to our flight.

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We arrived to our gate and see the flight is delayed…and delayed. Everyone was in good spirits. We boarded the plane and were delayed on the tarmac. Jon and I each had a baby sleeping in our arms. They told us to disembark due to mechanical issues. we asked to stay on the plane as moving means waking sleeping babies.

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But, rules are rules so we disembarked with more tears from the girls, so unsure of this whole plan. We finally were invited to reboard for our 30 minute flight.

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We made it to domestic baggage claim in Chicago and Chicago isn’t set up for lugging six carryons and 13 pieces of checked luggage to the international terminal.

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We found a man with a very large cart who was willing to help us. He led the way to terminal 3.

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We hustled from terminal 1 to terminal 3…wait, we were supposed to be in terminal 5. We had to regroup and in looking in the door at terminal 3, saw Erica, Raquel’s sister, checking in for her international flight. We couldn’t believe it. 

It’s not possible to walk to terminal 5 and so we split up, Raquel and I took the kids on the tram while Jon went through Uber XL drivers until someone was big enough to fit in our 700 pounds of luggage.

We beat Jon to the terminal and started the check-in process, and again, we were spared so much as we beat the rush by about 15 minutes and an employee had mercy on us and started us immediately without waiting in line.

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This part of the process was probably over an hour as after our luggage was checked, Jon had to cart it on a small cart to the end of the terminal as their belt wouldn’t accommodate the tote size. Jon hauled, lifted, shuffled this luggage more than anyone should have to. Girls were sleepy, babies were crying, we were quite the show.

We made it through and then another international security, (which involved Jon and Raquel managing all the stuff and me taking the four kids through, one baby crying in each arm). I didn’t have to wait in any lines though as the security people got me through quickly. And…THEY LET US KEEP THE STROLLER. :)

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Upon finally boarding the plane of what was to be a full flight, it felt like we were on vacation. 

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We got our bassinet seating with extra leg room! We were split up around the plane but Raquel took A with her, I had Little Miss T and J while Jon sat in another bassinet section with Tiger. Once on the plane, the kids watched movies, slept, ate and the adults tried to do the same.

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We made it to Doha (which is a dream airport) and noticed both of the girls decided to wear their airline issued socks with their sandals.

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We didn’t get our own stroller back here but used airport issued ones.

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These babies did amazing and both took a nap as we moved through the airport. We boarded our last flight without hassle.

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Raquel’s hands and sweet spirit were vital to this process. I am pretty sure without her, we may still be in Chicago on the airport floor.

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(Disclaimer, if you visit us, this won’t happen to you. ;))

Upon arrival in Ethiopia,I have never seen it so chaotic. There were crushes of people stuck in the airport from an immigration issue. Jon wrestled his way to the baggage claim, Raquel had to get in a different line for a different visa and I moved tired kids through walls of people. Many travelers were sleeping on the airport floor and so moving was difficult. We flew into the domestic terminal, international is much smoother. I made a wall of luggage and used my body to keep the kids from being too overwhelmed by the masses or pressed into by the desperate ones stranded in the airport. At one point, I looked and saw Raquel’s white face and long brown hair as she shouted my name and waved at me from the other side of immigration. She made it through after an answer to the immigration officer’s question.

2 hours and 15 minutes later, our luggage hadn’t come, Raquel had her visa and the girls were wrestling on the airport floor and saying things like, “I want to go back to America!” There were no luggage carts not in use and we decided that Raquel and shouldI take the kids and carryons while Jon stayed. A taxi driver friend took us to the guest house were we set up and had the kids in bed by around 4:00 am. Jon arrived with the luggage and we went to bed around 5:00 am. I was just so thankful I wasn’t one of the moms who had to camp out on the airport floor.

And now, I don’t want to think about an international trip for at least a year. Ha!  We really did feel your prayers throughout this process, so thank you!



Shari Fiechter said...

Wow! So thankful so many were praying and you finally arrived with all your luggage!

Verene Sutton said...

We've been praying. What a whirlwind of exhausting events you had to go through. May God richly bless your efforts for Him!

leah said...

oh my goodness. i could just cry from the crazy and stress of all of this! so thankful you made it safely!!

Heather Hoerr said...

what a long process! thankful you made it safely and were able to stay sane through it all :)

sarah.flyingkites said...


So thankful you made it safely.

Jon Nykamp said...

Then you had an amazing 2-1/2 hours of sleep before the 7:30 wake-up bell? You guys are real Jegena! Welcome back!