Yeah I know I haven't blogged for AGES!! But I've just been trying to do Little Prince's birth family contact letters and found it really, really difficult - in the past I've just checked back on my blog and had a really good idea of what we've been up to. This time because of my blogging "break" (and a memory like a sieve lol) its been much harder, so I thought I'd better try and get into the blogging habit again! I can't promise I'll blog every day, but I'll try and blog at least once a week!
Before I start again, though, I want to finish writing about our Ethiopian trip. Unfortunately after all this time, and being Mummy to a baby who doesn't really like to sleep, I can't remember that much - but its only one day, so I'll give it a go!!
We spent the morning of our last Saturday in Addis packing, I collected everything together and Mr Messy packed it all in the suitcases. Mr Messy went out with the young manager of the Guest House to buy some music CDs, both traditional Ethiopian music and modern Ethiopian pop music. We had a quick shop in the local mall and supermarket, but didn't buy much as the higher than expected fees for Baby's British Settlement Visa and the much higher charges than expected for Mr Messy and Drama Teen's trip to where Baby came from had more or less cleaned us out!! In the afternoon Mr Messy took photos of Drama Teen, Little Prince and Baby with the Guest House staff, and we thanked them profusely for all the wonderful help and support they had given us during our long stay with them.
Too soon our driver arrived and it was time to leave. It was so hard to say goodbye to the staff and the place we had first become a family of six, there are a LOT of happy memories of the Guest House and we will always remember our stay there. It was quite difficult to fit all our luggage in the small car, but between Mr Messy, the driver and some string it got done. It wasn't a long drive to the airport, only about ten or fifteen minutes and I spent the whole time hugging Baby tightly and soaking up the last sights of Addis, we will be back but it might not be for a few years and I want to remember as much as I can of this vibrant city and its welcoming, friendly people, so that I can tell Baby all about it.
I burst into tears as soon as we parked at the airport, this was it, we were taking Baby from her country, her culture and the comfort of growing up looking like everyone else. For better or worse we were about to change her life completely forever. The driver kept saying "Don't cry madam" but I couldn't help it. We took some last photos of us with the driver and then loaded our luggage onto a trolley and made our way up the hill to the airport building. We were searched on entry to the airport and had to take off our shoes, belts etc and go through a security scanner and have our bags x-rayed, security is tight in the airport. Once through the security check we looked for our check in desk, but despite being told by the airline to arrive at that time the check in desk wasn't open yet. We found a row of seats big enough for us all to sit down and sat and waited for the desk to open. A few seats away a very stylish young Ethiopian man was sat listening to his mp3 player loud enough for us all to hear!
Eventually the check in desk opened and we all made our way to the queue. It was pretty difficult to manouver all our luggage and keep tabs on Little Prince as the queue wound round and round, but we eventually made it to the front. We were very disappointed to find that despite arriving as early as we could, that there were NO bulkhead seats left, so we would be unable to use the in flight sky cot for baby! Once we had checked in all our luggage we made our way to the Departures Lounge, which is HUGE and full of shops. Drama Teen and Little Prince decided they wanted fries, so we traipsed up and down trying to find them some, but couldn't find anywhere serving them. Or was it that the places serving them were full of people smoking so Mr Messy wouldn't eat there - I can't remember!! I found it very surprising that people were allowed to smoke in the airport as that is totally unheard of in all the airports I've been in before lol. I think we eventually did find them some biscuits or something to eat. We used up the last of our Birr buying little souveniers from the various shops, including a couple of traditional Ethiopian dresses and shawls for Baby and some mini painted drums for Little Prince to give to his school friends.
We sat on some benches near to the door to the Departure Gate and waited until the armed security guard said it was time for us to go through. We again had to remove our shoes, belts and jackets to go through a security scanner and our hand luggage was x-rayed again. We then queued to show our tickets and passports to the lady at another desk. There had been some sort of problem with printing our connecting flight tickets or boarding passes, so the lady kept our passports and tickets behind the desk and said she would sort it out. There was much less to do in this part of the airport, only some seats but luckily some space for Little Prince and the other younger children to run round. They were soon running round playing some sort of international game of catch, with lots of giggling and deliberate slidding up the floor lol. Inevitibly Little Prince soon wanted the toilet, so we had to collect our passports again, go back out to the main Departure area and find the toilets, then come back through security and hand our passports back in again!! Not easy but we managed it all in time :-) While we were waiting we got chatting to an American Dad who was there on his own (his wife had stayed home with their other children) adopting a girl of about 5 years and a boy of about 2 years. The girl would not sit anywhere near her new Dad and he was very worried about the flight!! The little boy on the other hand was quite happy to be with his Dad, or with us when he shared our biscuits. We gave the Dad the packet so that he could feed the little boy rather than us, as that would be better for the little boy to realise who was his family.
When the desk called that the flight was boarding everyone pushed to get in the queue and we lost sight of the Dad with the two kids, although we did see him later on actually on the plane with the children, we were glad to see he had made it safely :-) We didn't get chance to chat to him though as we were in a completely different part of the plane, I hope he managed the flight ok and that the little girl wasn't too distressed, poor little mite. When we reached the desk we were given all our paperwork back and our connecting flight paperwork too. When we actually boarded the plane we found that we had been split up and were sat in the middle two seats (in the centre of the plane) in two seperate rows. We talked to the flight attendant about this and she said that she would try to sort it out for us. After about half an hour or so we asked again and she did arrange for us to sit all in one row, but said that she couldn't guarentee that we would be able to stay seated in these seats as more people would be boarding in Khartoum. This was news to us as last time me and Baby Sis hadn't stopped in Khartoum on the way home, and it was pretty disappointing too as it would make the flight slightly longer - I just wanted to get home and see my other baby (LMS who I felt I hadn't seen for much longer than just three weeks!). Mr Messy was sat on the aisle seat, then me with Baby on my knee, then Little Prince and then Drama Teen on the opposite aisle seat. Before take off I took Baby to the toilet to change her into a fresh nappy and put her in a baby grow. I had taken the advice of someone on our UK yahoo group and packed a number of ziplock bags each with a baby grow, vest, nappy and nappy bag which was very helpful for the numerous times I had to go and change Baby! Almost at the moment the seat belt light came on, she decided to leak out of her nappy!! What timing!!!! Luckily I had the now empty ziplock bag from her first change to hand, and was able to sit her on that so she didn't leak everywhere!! It seemed a VERY long wait for the seat belt light to go off again!!!
The flight was pretty routine, the engine noise seemed to soothe Baby and she slept and only seemed to wake up to be fed and changed. Little Prince was a great international flier as usual, he played for a while, ate his meal and then slept. Drama Teen took a lot of persuading and swapping of items to get her to eat much on the plane, but she did eat some before she too fell asleep. Mr Messy, who was still feeling ill slept too. I was the only one awake, as I was too scared of dropping Baby to be able to sleep much. When we were eventually approaching Amsterdam one of the flight crew came to us and said she had been told we had the most beautiful baby on the flight and how good she had been, she presented us with a little pottery Dutch building for Baby :-) I remember when I flew to China with my friends R & J that their newly adopted baby got a similar present. I was really touched and the ornament is now proudly displayed in Baby's bedroom.
I don't remember much about our wait in Amsterdam airport (thankfully it was MUCH shorter than when me and Baby Sis had returned from Ethiopia!) until we were waiting by the Departure Gate and realised that Little Prince had lost his Ninetendo DS!! I found a staff member who gave me the number for Lost Property and said if it was found while cleaning the plane they would be able to let me know. However, me and Mr Messy worked out that Little Prince must have left it in Bole Int Airport in Addis, in the confusion and melee when we were called to board. Usually I do a "Mum look round" and check we haven't left anything behind, but I didn't this time!! Little Prince was very upset and blamed himself, but we reassured him that accidents happen and he wasn't to worry about it. And nothing could take away from the excitement of being almost home :-)
I took Baby and changed her into a set of pretty clothes I'd packed for her "coming home" outfit and she looked so beautiful :-) The flight to our local airport was short and sweet, and soon we were disembarking and queuing up to get through immigration. The airport is so small that there is only one queue (so no dithering about if we go in the UK or non-UK queue lol). We had predicted that Baby's situation would be so unusual at this airport, that they would either wave us right through or detain us for weeks!! Luckily we just had to fill in a non-UK/EU form and show them her Visa giving her indefinite leave to remain in her Ethiopian Passport, and they waved us straight through and wished us all good luck :-) We were back on British soil, and Baby got her first taste of a chilly morning!! I had a bit of a mix up ringing to check our taxi was here, and rang the taxi firm's owner (and got her out of bed early on a Sunday morning to boot!! Whoops - she was NOT happy!!). We found the taxi, got our suitcases and ourselves loaded and set off towards home. In my tired and befuddled state I wasn't able to get the provided car seat fastened in properly, it was more jammed between its seat and the one in front!! Luckily we got home with no mishaps.
And waiting at the door was LMS :-) It was sooooooooo good to see her :-) I'd missed her sooooooooo much. She did say it was odd seeing us get out of the taxi holding a baby, even though she was dying to see her new sister lol. It was fantastic to be home and it brought tears to my eyes to be in my own home with all my children together. Wonderful, absolutely wonderful :-)