Sunday, June 8, 2008

He’s Finally Arrived!

Amy did a great job summarizing our ordeal with the airlines (see post below). Needless to say, my version of the story wouldn’t have been as ‘family friendly’, and she’s right that I might have used a few expletives to fully describe the incompetence of our friends at NW airlines. Ahh, but to the fun stuff…

We arrived at Hotel Almaty early this morning, still dazed from our travels. However, we were quickly awakened from our collective stupor after our driver mentioned that Nurshai’s flight was scheduled to arrive in Almaty at 11:00 am, and our son should be in our arms before noon. The day was certainly beginning to look brighter.

Fortunately, his estimates were right on, as we got the call from the lobby (‘you must come to the lobby’… in stoic Russian accent) around 11:45am, at which time we scrambled for the miniaturized elevators and made our way to finally welcome Griffin to our family. I think we were both surprised by how well he looked, as we both felt that he would probably regress a bit during the 5+ weeks since our last visit. Not so – other than a few lingering spots from a rash that we knew about when we left, he looked physically healthy. And he was active, playful, and most important of all; he smiled after a few minutes of seeing us. All is well now.

We enjoyed the rest of the day hanging out over a late lunch, getting in a good afternoon nap (which it took all of my strength to awaken from), and a casual dinner under the stars (outside dinning at the hotel… nothing fancy, but convenient). Tomorrow morning we head to the SOS clinic to get the final medical review and approval, and should have the rest of the day to ourselves. Assuming all goes well there, we are then scheduled to go to the US Embassy on Tuesday for our final interview and paperwork, and Wednesday will be a contingency day in case anything pops up. Then we are back to the airlines Thursday… and homeward bound.

He’s sleeping peacefully in his crib now. Any misery associated with our travels seems pretty insignificant. Goodnight all.

Misery Loves Company (2nd Trip Travel Woes)

I’m going to author this post because if Jesse did it would all look like this %#!%&*. All along we’ve tried to maintain a positive fun blog, but instead I ask you to feel our pain!

We’re so eager to get back to Kazakhstan that we get to the Cincinnati airport early. We ask the ticket counter agent to help us work out our seat assignments on the return flights, the ones with Griff. He’s unable to help so he gives us 800 # to call. Jesse calls the 800# to discuss our situation… we’re traveling with a 17 month old who’s spent 90% of his day in a crib and major “freaking out” is highly possible. He explains that we’re hoping to have seats together and in the 2 seat section of the plane versus the 4 seat section in middle of the plane. The lady on the phone acts like we’re asking to change the orbit of the earth. She says she can’t help unless we’re ‘status members’ – bingo! -- Jesse has Delta Gold Medallion status. Delta and Northwest are both part of SkyTeam Alliance, so his status should work on this airline. The NWA lady says she can’t verify his status and refuses to help any further. A supervisor gets on the phone, calls Delta to verify his status as Gold and then says she can’t really help because the flights are full and then literally hangs up on Jesse. The very frustrating phone calls last almost 45 minutes and we got nowhere!

As we’re sitting at the gate waiting to leave the NWA agent says we’re going to be delayed because the flight before us is delayed going to Minnesota and they have to wait for the pilot to move that plane out of the way so we can began boarding our plane. Moving us to another open gate would have been too easy, right. We start to panic now because we only have one hour in Detroit to catch our next flight to Amsterdam.

RUN FOREST RUN… we get to Detroit at 9:05p.m. and our flight leaves at 9:20. We land in terminal C but have to get to terminal A. We ran, seriously ran, through the airport. I’m sure looking like two big ole dorks; me in my flip flop sandals, pushing an empty baby stroller and Jesse dragging luggage behind him. He gets ahead of me (nice to be wearing running shoes) and I’m yelling … “just goooo, I’lllll catch up” We come running up to the gate, out of breath and red in the face and the airline agent looks scared to death and says, “But where is your baby?” Our only laugh of the day!

We’re the last to board the plane and feel encouraged when the pilot comes on to say there will be a slight delay while we wait for a few additional passengers and late luggage to be loaded. About 20 minutes later, there’s another announcement about a further delay, only this one ended up lasting almost 7 hours. Yes, it happened to us. We sat inside the plane on the tarmac with little or no air conditioning for 7 hours as they did a repair. We were not allowed to leave the plane “for security reasons”. After two hours we got a drink of water and after five hours we got a bag of pretzels. We sat for 7 hours on the tarmac and then had to endure the actual 7 hour flight. We got off the plane in Amsterdam, walked straight to the gate for the Almaty flight that is now boarding and walked directly onto the plane. No time to stop for a bathroom break or a sip of water, directly onto the plane and then sat for another 7 hour flight! For those that are keeping track, including the Cincy to Detroit flight, we had the joy of experiencing ~22 hours of time sitting in our less than 2 feet of coach space… together. You’ve got to be kidding me… I wanted to cry!

So we’re here now, in Almaty at the hotel, amazingly with all of our luggage. We’re laying down with our legs propped up to help reduce the leg pain and swelling. You should see Jesse’s ankles, they look like baseballs. And we’re thrilled to be waiting for Griffin to arrive… very soon the last 24 hour nightmare will be forgotten.