We spent weeks packing, repacking, weighing, organizing, and packing some more. We arrived at the airport with an empty duffel bag in case we needed to unload things from our luggage in the airport floor. We flew with Emirates airlines and it was such a wonderful experience. Our first flight was just under 15 hours to Dubai. Our kids are good travelers in general and Emirates is fantastic about catering to kids so I wasn’t too worried about it. We had preordered children’s meals, they were given stuffed animals and blankets, and they had just about every show or movie they wanted available to watch in their seats. I’m pretty sure Madison watched Dora most of the way.
When we purchased our plane tickets, an overnight stay at a hotel was included in the price. This was pretty useful as our layover there was 21 hours. They took us directly to the hotel via shuttle and we checked in easily. They have an all you can eat buffet that guests have access to for free 3 times a day. We ate a late lunch, looked about the property and let the kids play on the playground for a while before heading up to try to nap. We were given two connecting hotel rooms so we just locked and barricaded the kids door and let them have their own room with the connecting door left open. Once we woke up from our nap we took the kids down to the pool. It’s summer there so even after dark it was plenty warm to swim. Luckily Laughna, our missions pastor at Hope Fellowship had traveled through Dubai before and had advised me to pack swimsuits if we wanted to keep the kids busy. We didn’t go out into the city and sightsee at all. We were more concerned about trying to get the kids to adjust to the time change and relax before our next flight. Hopefully on the way back home we can get out and see Dubai a bit more.
Our second flight was just over 7 hours and the kids did great again. This was a smaller plane so didn’t have the same level of in flight entertainment but it didn’t really matter as our children slept for more than half of the flight. They had trouble sleeping at the hotel when we declared bedtime so they passed out on the plane. They slept through the breakfast that was served and were so fast asleep that I couldn’t convince either of them to wake up when it was time to get off of the plane. Luckily I had anticipated this and had brought two of my kid carriers. I loaded Brandon onto my back and Maddie onto my front and lugged them off of the plane. It’s just easier for me to wear/carry the kids and for Sly to worry about all of the luggage then to both be carrying a sleeping kid and have no hands free. It wasn’t comfy, but it was doable. We got through the line to get our visas very quickly and were off to collect our luggage. This was actually what I was most stressed about. Last year, we had a hard time getting through customs. We had a lot of luggage and it contained many of the same items. We were bringing supplies for Bible school so we had things like 300 paper visor hats, and a million beads to make necklaces. They accused us of bringing things in to sell that we hadn’t declared properly… really? I’m going to sell 300 paper hats that are cut from paper plates and tied with elastic?! I learned that they just saw it as an opportunity to be bribed to let us through. It’s actually pretty common. This year was much different however. We got our luggage loaded up on two carts and headed towards the exit. Perhaps I looked desperate and tired with two children strapped to me or perhaps our luggage didn’t look very exciting but they looked at our passports and waved us right on through. There were several people at the airport to greet us and carry my sleeping children for me. They finally woke up and were pleased that we were finally in Zambia.
This year, we are staying at a lodge where Collins, my brother in law, used to work. They were able to get us a pretty good deal and it’s a great space. There is a wall fence around the property with a 24 hour guard at the entrance. Most of the rooms here are rented to students and are just one room rentals. We have the upstairs floor of one of the buildings. Apparently it’s where one of the owners used to live. We have two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a full kitchen with stove and fridge, a living/dining room with sofas and a tv, and an outdoor screened in veranda. All of this overlooking the pool and courtyard of the property. Sounds perfect, and it almost is… except the water only occasionally works here. When the water is on, we have hot and cold water all over the house, but when it’s off, we have no water for anything. I will admit that it really irritates me, probably more than it should. I hate having to save and pour water into the toilet to flush, and keep a bucket of water in our shower to wash our hands in, and doing dishes in a bucket instead of the sink, and taking a “shower” from a bucket of warmed water while standing in a perfectly (sometimes) working shower. Sometimes it’s really frustrating, but most days I realize how lucky we are to have water at all that we don’t have to walk for miles to gather. Many people here in Zambia don’t have access to clean water at all. Many people have to pay for it by the container full. Others have to walk very very far to draw water from a well then walk for miles carrying the jugs of water on their heads… several times a day. Most people, even more well off families do not have running water inside the home at all. Some have a tap outdoors and outhouses… if they are really fancy, those outhouses have seats, if not, just a hole in the floor. My life is easy and I’m trying to remember to be more thankful.