August 20, 2012

Traveling to Africa


Well this was the time period I was worried about most. Specifically, being “trapped” on a plane with a 5 and 6 year old who didn’t want to cooperate and weren’t pacified with anything. I’m not a good flyer anyway and I didn’t know how we would juggle my own panic attack issues as well as deal with difficult children.

And, you know, it didn’t happen. They were GREAT on the four different planes we took just to get to Zambia. In fact, they received more compliments on their behavior during these flights than the rest of their lives put together.

Now, don’t get me wrong. That’s not to say that the trip hasn’t had its, ahem, challenges.



We left Dallas mid-afternoon on Friday and flew to Atlanta. But before we could even get through DFW security we had to stand in a line for about 45 minutes because the computer system couldn’t find our reservation even with my confirmation code. Finally, this was resolved and she assured me that she “reattached” our luggage which had been checked at the curb. Guess we’ll find out if that’s true or not as soon as we land here in just a few minutes.

Then we grabbed some fast food and boarded the flight to Atlanta right on time. Our boys were beyond excited. Colt sat across the aisle from us and in between video games he entertained the young guy sitting with him – who interestingly enough was reading a book on football strategy and sketching out x and o plays.

In Atlanta we were able to spend a small bit of time in the airport between flights. We just might have had two different drinks spilled all over the seats and the floor in that short amount of time, but we also managed to eat dinner at Pei Wei and watch part of Pocahontas. (Mommy actually sacked out on a blanket in the corner and napped for a bit too. It’s been a long week already.)

Within about five minutes of boarding the flight to Amsterdam, the boys were out cold. Good thing, too, because Momma was battling some ridiculous anxiety and fear about this cross-Atlantic, 8 hour flight during that same time period. The downside is that Joey and I didn’t go to sleep immediately, so when the boys woke up 4 hours later NO ONE had gotten much sleep.

Colt was excited about getting out of the airport in “Hamsterdamn” and so were we. We took a public train from the airport down into Central Amsterdam. The city is pretty gritty and we were definitely wanting to stay in the family-friendly areas. We had heard that the canal cruises were second only to Venice. Well, if you are envision quaint little canoe-style boats being hand steered through narrow waterways . . . that’s not Amsterdam. The section where the canal cruises leave from has a minimum of four travel groups who operate out of there and they all operate boats that are reminiscent of the public ferries in cities like New York.

We thought we would be smart and avoid the lines by taking something called the Flying Dutchmen. It’s an amphibious bus that drives you through part of the tour ad then ride the boat through the waterways as well. Not the right choice, it turns out.

After getting on the boat/bus and taking our seat, we immediately realized something was wrong, it was 78 outside but it was about 95 and baking inside the bus. Almost immediately we were sweating down and miserable. But the tour was supposed to go out on the water and we thought it would cool off then. However, we failed to factor in that the windows on the bus had to be closed tightly in order to be waterproof. The temperature remained about 92+ degrees throughout the event.

Honestly it was so hot that at one point I asked Joey to see if the driver would just let us out somewhere and we could make our way back to the train station on our own. At which time he promptly mocked me and pointed out that we were on a bus that had turned into a boat . . . the only way off was through the emergency windows or the roof hatch. (You can see by this picture exactly how we were all feeling about this "fun" tour.)



When we finally were transferred to a real boat – which was a glorious experience – and returned to the pier, I promptly asked for and received a full refund of the tour cost.  While that specific part was not very pleasant, overall it was fun brief view of Amsterdam during our layover, and the boys did really well.

We got back to the airport, grabbed a bite to eat and hopped on the flight from Amsterdam to Kenya. Flight was super easy. The boys did incredible again, and we landed in Kenya the next morning with no issue.

Kenya’s airport however was CRAZY! Old, decrepit, and full of people and smells.  I didn’t even want to sit in the waiting room for an hour and a half waiting on our last flight. The ceiling was literally falling in, the paint was peeling off the walls, and the chairs looked as if they were rejects from an old office building.  One of our route options had us spending the night in the Kenya airport and I am so thankful we felt uncomfortable with that from the beginning.

Finally, we arrived in Ndola . . . and a whole different adventure began.