Today I am thankful for running water, reliable electricity, my washing machine, my dishwasher, my flushing toilet, bedsheets with elastic corners, and antibiotics....
The kids got sick about 5 days before we were scheduled to leave. They have now been to a Zambian Clinic, twice. I took them to a private clinic which costs K10 (ten kwacha, the Zambian currency which is roughly $2) That was the expensive clinic mind you. They did not have many instruments to be able to investigate why my child was coughing and gagging so we are still not totally sure what the kids have. He tipped Brandon's head back and with the help of sunlight peered into the back of his throat and looked with amazement at his missing tonsils. He listened to the kids cough and decided to prescribe a large amount of meds for them. Normally I wouldn't give them so much medicine but I was more than worried on how they would do on our long flights home.
We left the house at 5am in Zambia to catch our first flight. I think Sylvester and I got almost 3 hours of sleep. We were sad, tired, and sick so not the ideal combination for a long journey. A lot of our family members were able to come to the airport with us but it made it all that much harder to say goodbye and walk through security. We survived the first 10 hour flight pretty well. Our original plan was to stay in the Heathrow airport overnight and catch the flight out the next morning. Sylvester and Webster, being citizens of Zambia, would not be able to pass through security to enter London and I wasn't about to wander out and find a hotel with the kids and luggage by myself. When we arrived, the kids were so miserably sick that we decided it wasn't a good plan to have them sleep in the airport floor. I talked to many people and with my two coughing kids in tow, was able to get the guys a special 24 hour temporary exit visa... so off through security we went. Our plan was to call a friend in New York that has a brother in London and stay with him for the night. I was told that there were lots of affordable hotel options available near the airport as well if we needed them. Sylvester, Webster, and I had all sold our phones before we left Zambia (because we sold them for more than enough to come home and buy new ones) so we only had a pay phone to deal with. Also good to note that we had no physical money (in any currency) as we had all run out of money before leaving Zambia. This all makes it hard to get in touch with anyone. We tried several times to get the right phone number and fought with the payphones that were eating our money. We decided it might just be easier to get the kids to a hotel so we could all get some sleep. By this time, Sly and I had caught the kids germs and our throats were feeling as though they were closing in on us. We went to inquire about available hotels (and ATMs to have money for the cab rides) only to find out that nearly everything was booked and the only options available were too far away and much to expensive.
So back to our original plan to sleep on benches at the airport... until we hit security. They would not allow us to re-enter the airport as our flight out of London was not until the following day at 11:50. So we were stuck on the outside of the airport with two coughing kids. I talked to just about every security manager in the building but no one could get us back in. We decided to just make the best of it. We found a 24 hour coffee shop, bought dinner, promised to buy coffee later, and put the kids down for bed in one of the booths. I had packed pajamas for them so at least there was something familiar about bedtime. at 2am, they came over and told us we needed to move to the other side of the coffee shop so that they could properly clean the side we were currently sitting in. The family of 3 adults that were coffee shop camping at a table next door literally jumped up and ran to the only available both on the opposite side. So there I was standing holding two sleeping children with nowhere to put them down. I was exhausted and coughing, irritated, and seriously contemplating kicking the sleeping adults. I chose to take the high road and push 3 chairs together and try to make a bed for my children. They actually slept nicely through the whole ordeal but I or course got little to no sleep while clutching luggage and keeping one eye on my sleeping kids. I am a little mad now that I didn't take any pictures but I was just so sleep deprived that it didn't even occur to me at the time.
At 6am, the coffee shop was nearly full of paying customers... and my kids in their footie jammies fast asleep and snoring. Good thing they are cute. We got up and finally got back through security into the airport. We busied ourselves with breakfast and the playground found in the main terminal. NOTE: if you ever fly with kids through the Heathrow airport... go find the playground. It will save your sanity. There is a charging dock, playground, comfy chairs, and affordable food all right there. Our second flight was a bit more challenging as the kids had gotten plenty of sleep and the adults were struggling to stay awake. We took lots of "walks" up and down the isles with Madison as she was already tired of traveling. It took well more than an hour to gather our bags and make it through US customs but thankfully we passed though with out any trouble at all.
Thanks to my sister and cousin, we had an easy ride home and food ready shortly after we arrived. My mom was so happy to see the kids that she took care of them nearly all weekend while Sly and I tried to recover from being sick, and jet lag all at once.
It's really nice to be home... but I really miss Zambia. I miss our family, the kids at the school, all of the friendly people, the amazing work ethic, just about everything. I want to go back already and it makes me sad that it will be several more years at best before the kids and I can return. The plane tickets alone make the trip to far out of our price range to even consider. Our trip was amazing and it was even more amazing to be able to watch my children experience new things and watch the way they were able to adapt and fall right in line as if they had lived there forever.