Monday, December 3, 2012

Shot Out of a Cannon or How to Get to Ethiopia in 36 hours

On Friday morning (November 30) at 10:55 am, I had a breakdown telling my husband how disappointed I was that we hadn't gotten a court date yet. I was really throwing down a pretty fantastic pity party when I looked at the clock to notice I needed to shower in time to go get Kysa. I started to walk away and Fredrik checked his phone and there was a voicemail from our coordinator...apparently left during my pity party.

We ran into the kitchen, called her back.
Cat: You've got a court date...
Allison- falls to knees laughing, and still sniffling from the pity party
Fredrik: (Cautiously) When?
Cat: Are you ready for's Dec 4.
A-still on floor laughing harder
F: That's NEXT week
C: I know, I laughed when I read it. It's okay, we can reschedule.
A: We can do it! We can get there, we can do it!

...and then we were off. First to pick up Kysa at her school and to tell them we couldn't bring the cheese tray to the Christmas Party or be responsible for the classroom laundry over the weekend. On the way, I cancelled our weekly vegetable box and cancelled my chiropractor appointment. Simultaneously, I was on Facebook with our adoption agency support group looking for a travel agent who could overnight us to Ethiopia.

On the way home we stopped at Whole Foods and just spun around in place until we realized we needed to make a game plan and lists. So we picked up deodorant and a ridiculous amount of dog and cat food...

Fredrik took over booking the flights and hotel, and he made a last minute appointment on a Friday evening for vaccinations at 6:00 pm

...I started making The Packing List. I also called our neighbors across the street and asked for help watching Kysa and to have someone go with me to Target because despite the list, I was FRAZZLED and not sure what I'd bring home...

Meanwhile, we got an email from our coordinator in Colorado telling us we needed two documents notarized. Fredrik had ALREADY been to the bank and was at REI for water purifiers or travel pants or something when I saw the part about needing a Notary. So I called Fredrik and told him to come home immediately.

He sent a text back to say he'd confirmed our flights and we were flying out THE NEXT DAY AT 7AM. At this point we would need to leave our home in 12 hours.

...and crap! It was 4:00, banks close at 5. Friday traffic. Fredrik rushed home and we flew to the bank by about 4:30 while Carter, angel from across the street stayed with Kysa.

Glenda, my neighbor and friend (and in this case angel and mother of Carter), picked me up at the bank and we drove to Target. I remember being really shaky and not in my body. We arrived at Target a little before 5. I FILLED a cart with everything from diapers, medicine, formula and bandaids both for my family and the care center. I remember having a mini-breakdown because we'd had such short notice and I knew so many people, including Kysa's preschool, who wanted to contribute to donations to the care center. I had envisioned putting all our belongings in one bag and filling the rest of the suitcases (we would have been allowed 6) with donations. I just couldn't show up empty handed, but Glenda reminded me of the second trip...

At 5:30 we filled Glenda's car and she drove me to the travel doctor where I met Fredrik and Kysa for a 6:00 appointment that took 2hours and 15 minutes, and a grand total of 17 vaccinations. Kysa 4, Fredrik  5, and me a whopping 8 shots.

Not only was this an incredibly miserable experience, but it blew A LOT of our precious time.  I still needed to buy more groceries and some homeopathic remedies from Whole Foods. So we rolled into Whole Foods at 8:30.

By 9:00 we were eating dinner at our neighbors, yep those same angels from above. Not only did provide us dinner, they agree to take care of our dog and cat, return library books, pick up our car at the airport, and hold down our fort in general.

At 9:15 we knocked on another neighbor's door to ask if they'd provide backup for dog sitting.

By 9:30 Fredrik was working on getting us international travelers insurance and I was sorting and packing.

Around 10:00 Fredrik headed back out to go to CVS to pick up some prescriptions and to make a photobook to give to Baby W's birthdad. We wanted him to have photos of  Baby W and to see some pictures of what our family life looks like.

At 10:30 I noticed a text from our neighbors who had Kysa at their house, asking if I had any Tylenol because Kysa's legs were aching from the shots. I retrieved Kysa, who couldn't walk because her legs hurt so badly, gave her tylenol and put her in our bed trying not to allow myself to get comfortable. I hadn't slept well in the past week, and I was starting to get very sleeeeepy.

By midnight Fredrik was home and packing, sorting, organizing continued until around 2:45. We forced ourselves to go to bed. Fredrik fell asleep immediately I starred at the ceiling and sent myself reminder texts until about 3:30.

Alarm went off at 4. Child woken from the dead at 4:30. Elf on the Shelf spotted by child at 4:55 and placed in my suitcase at 4:57.

Off to the airport by 5. Boarded flight at 6:45

The flights were fairly uneventful. Kysa was amazing. I think I dozed a little. We arrived in Toronto with just enough time to make our connecting flight and we arrived in Addis Ababa at 7:45 am local time.

Stepping off the plane was exactly how I imagined, from the chaos to the smells. We arrived shell shocked, exhausted and giddy we had pulled it off, not to mention the promise of meeting our son soon. very soon.

After we waited an excruciatingly long time for a visa, well over an hour, we rushed to baggage claim worried about our luggage just circling the carousel. We discovered MY bag had not arrived (I'm not allowing myself to think it's just missing or stolen quite yet). While waiting for my bag, the power went off. Surreal. Wow, I guess we've really arrived.

By the time we got to the hotel, I was so exhausted I couldn't really feel the edges of my body from the inside anymore...everything felt fuzzy. So we did what everyone does in Ethiopia, we went down to the hotel cafe, ordered a macchiato and then found a driver who would take us shopping for some clothes.

Normally, I would have just toughed it out for a couple days until we got news about my bag. But the next flight out from Toronto is on Tuesday and the flight won't arrive until Wed morning...and I needed presentable clothes for court on Tuesday.

Kysa slept in our arms (car seats, what car seats?) during the fiasco as we drove around the city, goats and cows crossing the roads, horns honking, lanes improvised, air pollution thick, people walking everywhere...

I discovered I am a giantess by Ethiopian standards, and couldn't find a shirt to fit. The one skirt I found, the 11 year old looking boy running the store, yanked up the price for the desperate looking white lady. So I walked away in my dirty clothes...

We came back to the hotel, took a short nap and climbed to the rooftop hotel restaurant for dinner. Kysa   ate a few french fries and played with the wait staff while we ate and then FINALLY we went back to our room and got ready for bed.

Kysa and Fredrik miraculously slept the entire night, I was awake at 3 mind racing about meeting Baby W in just a few short hours.

...More on that incredible day coming soon.`


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