Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Mwango's go to Africa ~Part one~

We finally did it! After YEARS of planning and promising, we finally took the plunge and went to Zambia. The only word that comes to mind when people ask about our trip is AMAZING! I loved the people and the area and the country. Now that I am home I wish I would have blogged everyday so that I could have kept track of my exact feelings each day BUT I will try to re-cap the event and stay as true to my feelings as I can remember. Sooo here it goes....

I will start with packing. We started packing a few months before we left. We were taking a total of seven bags and I wanted to make sure we had EVERYTHING we could possibly need while we were there. Three of the bags were packed full of things for Edwin's family members. I lucked out and hit the clearance racks in August for summer clothing since we would be in Africa during their hottest season. We packed shoes and purses and suits and LOTS and LOTS of baby clothes for his family. For Edwin and I it was fairly easy, all the summer clothing that I needed to pack away for the winter was packed into suitcases. I didn't know what the temperature would be like so I tried to pack a little bit of everything. Malaika was the tough part. When packing for a baby there is this maternal demon that sits on your shoulder and tells you bad things are going to happen if you don't pack THIS! Even though I KNEW I would not need Malaika's heavy winter coat, I could foresee Africa having their first and ONLY snow while we were there and Malaika freezing to death because I am such an unprepared mother! Haha! She did not even wear half the items I packed for her. (but if any catastrophe happened I would have been prepared..LOL) Her diaper bag was full of toys and coloring books and things that I though would entertain her on the LONG plane rides.
The main concern with the luggage was weight. we were only allowed 50lbs per bag that we were checking and they had to be certain dimensions. At home each bag weighed about 49lbs.(except one) PHEW! Susanna came and stayed with us the night before we left and drove us to the airport in the morning around 5 a.m. the baggage went through and the lady was so nice. we had one bag that was over the weight limit by 20 lbs. we were prepared for this and thought it would be an extra 50 dollar charge but it was actually a 150.00 charge. she said that because we had a baby we could take one more bag. She provided a box to put the excess stuff in and checked it all at no extra cost!! She also kept telling us (at least a hundred times) that we should continue to have more babies, and when we have them to come see her. What can I say, we make cute babies!
*Here is a tip for all you travelers out there... TRAVEL WITH A BABY! You get the most amazing service everywhere you go!* We were always escorted to the front of the line.
I was extra nervous about flying. I have not flown since I was in high school and the farthest I have ever flown is to Kansas. Now I have a (almost) two yr. old and a 36 hour flight ahead of me! EEK! The first flight was a 3 hour flight from Portland to Minneapolis. Since Malaika was under two we didn't have to purchase a ticket for her, she was a lap baby. this flight posed a slight problem because it was packed completely full and in the row of three seats were Edwin, Malaika and myself as well as another lady and her baby! Talk about cramped! For some reason every flight we had Malaika would pass out right before take off. It was almost like she knew what was going to happen. She would suck on her binky the entire time and we never had a problem with her screaming or crying because of her ears. She slept through the entire first flight *AMAZING*! The next flight was from Minneapolis to Amsterdam this was an 8 hour flight and it was the nicest plane! All the seats had individual movie screens and you could watch TV and listen to music. Malaika slept through half of the flight and the other half she watched dora (on the I touch) and Ice age on the seat screen. She cracked us up on this flight because she ate soooo much food! I had packed a few snacks (chex mix, cheerios, and goldfish crackers) she ate almost all of those and both mine and Edwin's plane food! In Amsterdam we had a 5 hour layover which was good and bad... (If I was telling you this in person, this is the part where Edwin would start laughing at me) I decided to go the comfortable route and wear a tracksuit on the plane. I wanted comfort and not style for a 36 hour flight. The problem is that the tracksuit was on the baggy side and after a few hours of being in a plane it had stretched out more. this would not have been a problem if we had not just landed in the most FASHIONABLE airport I have EVER been in. Everyone was wearing suits and fur and stiletto's! On top of that they all smelled SOOOO good! I smelled like an eight hour plane ride who's seat was directly across from the bathroom. UGH! My adoring husband did not help...He had unfortunately told me, before we left,that I should not wear the baggy tracksuit and that I should wear nice jeans and a nice shirt. He proceeded to tell me this for the ENTIRE 5 hour layover in Amsterdam and continued on the next flight! I hate when he is right! All of my nastiness aside, Amsterdam has an AMAZING airport. The changing room alone was beautiful! As you stepped in the dimly lit room there was light classical music in the background. There were about 10 round sectional couches and each had a built-in crib and sheer white curtains draped around them. BEAUTIFUL and relaxing is what it was. The playroom for the kids was furnished with wooden tree houses and lots of slides... Malaika enjoyed.

The next flight was an eight hour flight from Amsterdam to Kenya. This was BY FAR the worst flight we had. Time changes were catching up to us and it was our night and their day time. We were sitting next to a VERY loud group of Men (kenyan's as edwin called them) who did not speak a word of English but every word they spoke was in a LOUD yelling laughing tone! Malaika slept through this entire flight, she would not even wake up when we tried to wake her for food, and I wanted to join her so badly. Every time I would tune out the loud passengers and drift off the stewardess would wake me up to ask if I wanted something to drink or eat. UGH! NO I want sleep!!!!! There were no TV's and the battery to the I touch had gone down so I can strongly say that was the longest flight of my life!

When we arrived in Kenya It felt so good to FINALLY arrive in Africa. It was late in the evening for them (9 PM for them but afternoon for us time wise) This layover was not very enjoyable. Since it was late most of the shops were closed. My tracksuit was BEYOND baggy at this point and Malaika had just woken up from an 8 hour sleep. She was very perky! I had to use the restroom and when I went in the floor was covered in water. I hiked up my pants and headed to the stall (thinking this is normal?) the toilet was a hole in the floor... hmmmm. I checked the other stall and found a semi -normal toilet and decided I would rather chance an over flowing toilet then my balance on the other one. Good choice! We waited for about 3 hours and then boarded the plane to Lusaka. FINALLY!

This flight was about 2 hours and very exciting, we knew we were almost there. Malaika slept through this entire flight as well (we were soo lucky). The food on this flight was really good and the staff were also very nice. When we landed in lusaka it was around 11:45 PM and it took FOREVER to get through the customs line. We finally made it through and started looking for our bags. All but one made it, my bag was the only one that did not make it. Unfortunately that was the only bag I had packed anything in. I had an extra pair of pajama's in my carry on and luckily they were light and airy because I would be wearing them for the next 5 days! EEK! (Yes I cried... I cried a lot! )

Edwin's sister and brother-in-law were there to pick us up and they had paid for us to stay in a REALLY nice lodge for the night.(The shower had like 10 nozzles and a back massaging spa!) They dropped us off and told us to get some sleep and they would pick us up in the morning. That was my first night sleeping under a mosquito net and it was magical!!! I love AFRICA~!

-------TO BE CONTINUED---- hopefully not 3 months from now------