family of 5 moves from arizona to belo horizonte brasil, and lives to tell about it
Monday, March 8, 2010
We made it!
We made it! It actually wasn’t so bad; not that I’d like to travel internationally with three sick children by myself again, but things went pretty smoothly. After shedding a few tears at the airport (thank you Wendi, Jacy, Stephanie, Grandma & Grandpa Kelzenberg!) we made it thru security without losing anything. This is a major accomplishment, considering that I had three kids, four backpacks, a small suitcase, a carry on bag, a Ziploc of mucinex, and a car seat! I decided to do some shopping while waiting for the airplane, and only managed to drop all our bags and the car seat twice in the middle of the store. Our first flight to Orlando was not so bad, and the kids did pretty well. Getting thru the Orlando airport was a bit of a challenge—I kept dropping the bags, the kids were tired and hungry, and the TAM check in counter was at the very end of the terminal. Sebastian and Beatrice were super energetic after being contained for 5 hours, so they kept running around, and Sebastian pushed Bea down and she smacked her head pretty hard (oh, and did I mention that my baggage was all over the floor at this point as well?). Thankfully some other travelers took mercy on us and helped me find a cart and load everything up and get Bea calmed down. We went to McDonalds for our final stateside meal, and of course the kids didn’t eat a thing. At this point Sebastian was coughing lots, and Dora looked miserable. After a few more hours, we got on our 2nd flight, and I was getting really tired at this point, and thankfully the kids fell asleep pretty quickly. Bea woke up several times during the flight, and really one of the highlights of my traveling experience was taking Bea to the tiny, hot bathroom in the middle of the night, during an especially turbulent part of the flight so she could poop. Twice. After the 2nd trip to the bathroom, she couldn’t go back to sleep, but thankfully the TV screen in front of her was working so she watched a movie. I couldn’t keep my eyes open, but when I finally did wake up the stewardess was cutting Sebastian’s fruit and helping Bea butter her bread! As we were landing in São Paulo, I unfortunately got sick, but I had the foresight to give the kids some new books to keep them somewhat entertained. I waited for everyone to get off the plane before starting to pack up, humbly holding my barf bag in my lap, and it took us a good 10 minutes to load up all our stuff and get off the plane. The stewards kept asking if they could help, and they were all kind of hovering over us. I gave them some bags and things to carry, and as we got off the plane I saw why they were trying to rush us: the bus to take us to the terminal was waiting, full of our fellow passengers. Oops! Once we got the terminal, it was super crowded, and I really had no idea where to go. I asked a few people, and kept getting different answers—I knew that I had to go through customs and get our luggage. It was blazing hot, we were tired, and I kept dropping the darn carseat, and it took us over an hour to figure out where to go. Once we got to customs, there was no one there, and it was a piece of cake to get through. At baggage claim I saw our bags right away, and I started to cry! I just couldn’t believe that we had made it that far and our bags were actually there. I’d been told in Orlando that there would be carts and people to help us with our baggage, but of course there was no one there. I found someone who worked there, and asked if he could help, but he said no (this is all in hand gestures, because I speak NO Portuguese, and my Spanish doesn’t seem to help much). Finally this gentleman took mercy on me, and helped push one of the carts towards baggage claim, and even got us to the front of the line. Check in to our final flight was no problem! Then to our first meal in Brazil—I got the kids smoothies, grapes, and what I thought was cheese bread (turned out it was tuna, and not even I could stomach that at that time of day). We made it to our gate, and after a while boarded, and Sebastian immediately got a nosebleed. And of course I used up all my tissues! The steward seemed really concerned, but I told her it was ok, we just needed Kleenex. An hour later we landed in Belo Horizonte, and at this point, Bea was at her wits end, screaming like mad. So, I carried her, and pulled our mound of carry on baggage for what seemed like miles. Once I got to baggage claim, I was practically running looking for Matt to dump all the kids on him—I didn’t even hug him, I just threw the kids at him, and ran back into baggage claim (of course the security guards were not pleased with me going back and forth between the waiting area and baggage claim). But all of our luggage arrived, and Luisa’s father and brother came and helped us schlep our luggage to the hotel (Luisa is Marcio’s wife, and they have been our lifesavers here—more about them later). That was our trip! I’ll write more later about our first few days here, but they have been marvelous—ciao!