Wednesday, January 20, 2010

India is GREAT! Travelling Sucks

Blech.  We all decided we're going to donate for an airport in Ongole.

After a few false starts, we got on the road Tuesday morning at 8 am.  We'd all been up since 5 or 5:30.  Some of us were sick so we were up earlier.

TMI ahead.  Skip this paragraph if you don't want to know me this well.  I was up at 1:30 with a crampy stomach and um, Delhi Belly.  God and I had a talk about this and I explained to him how I was set for an 8 hour drive in a car in INDIA (ie: no rest stops!) and I needed some miraculous healing.  Now God and I had this same talk when I was in India to get Banana Boy and had to drive from Chennai to Bangalore and he came through for me then.  After two more trips to the bathroom in quick succesion, I took a Zithromax and went to sleep.  Things were a little iffy when RB woke me up at 5:15, but after a half hour were fine.  I took some Pepto Bismal, too.  I was still queasy, but at least not needing a bathroom.  Praise God!

Turns out Linda and Sam were barfing and Katie and Kailee were queasy, as was Leslie.  There were 6 babies coming along on the trip and we were supposed to hold them on our laps.  It turned out to be a blessing that when they arrived in the Qualis, they hadn't been fed or medicated, so for the first half of the trip they rode in the Qualis with the 3 ayahs and Sarah and Sim (who, of course, had Aloe).  The rest of us rode in the other two vans and tried not to throw up.

Except for the twisty roads, I love driving in India!  Where else can you zoom along dodging goat herds and buffalo herds and ox carts and hay wagons and overloaded, beautifully painted trucks and autorickshaws carrying 12 people and SUVs so full that one guy is standing on the trailer hitch with the back door open, holding onto the luggage rack for support?  The area we drove through was beautifully green with some areas low and wet and others arid.  We saw rice paddies in all stages of growth from empty to being planted to growing to harvest.  We saw palm trees and cacti and the most spectacular boulders.  We crossed an enormous resevoir and dam.

Shayna and Amira (Sarah's little daughters) rode in our car and they are just the sweetest things.  They chatter like little birds and are so well-spoken and outgoing and loving.  Rose Bud (who felt fine) kept them entertained for a couple of hours.  Then Shayna climbed into my lap for a snuggle and told me I reminded her of her grandma (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).  I hope that was a good thing!  LOL  I gave them my itouch to play with and also put on a few movies on my laptop. 

At the halfway point, we all stopped at the same rest stop we'd used the first trip and the babies were changed and fed, we got sodas and water and used the loo and Sim and Aloe came into our car.  We were supposed to acquire some more babies at this point but we were all so close to losing our lunch, we just couldn't.  We felt terrible that we couldn't help out, but the combination of exhaustion, carsickness, Delhi Belly---I guess that's enough, just wiped us out.

We finally ended our 7 hour drive at the Hyd airport at 3:30.  Everyone got out and we said a long good-bye to Sarah, Theresa, Simona and the girls and Erin and the babies.  It was hard for us to leave and we'll be taking a piece of all of the children home with us.

Inside, I was too queasy to take the elevator, so RB and I went up the escalator to check-in. As we turned back from the rest of the team getting in the elevator, I joked that we'd changed our minds and weren't leaving.  Ha!

Leslie, Faye, Scott and Linda all checked in and finally we went up to the counter.  I handed over our passports and the girls looked in the computer.  "You have no tickets."  WHAT?  Apparently, our tickets had been cancelled by the travel agency because they were not confirmed in time.  When did this happen?  October 23.  Did we want to buy a ticket to fly to Chennai?  No!  We paid already for tickets.  Well, we could call our travel agent.  I didn't have his number.  Finally, thinking on my feet, I said, "We got here.  Aren't tickets usually booked round-trip?  If we got here, we ought to have tickets home!"  She asked for our old boarding passes and THANKFULLY I had some in my backpack.  As soon as she typed them in, she found us:  ON A DIFFERENT FLIGHT! 

Turns out RB and I were booked on the 5:20 flight to Chennai and the rest of the team was on the 6:55 flight.  I did know that.  It was on my printed itinerary.  But none of us ever thought to compare those flights with each other.  We just all assumed we were all the same.  We were so thankful we had gotten to the airport in time.  The original plan had been to go to the ICM guesthouse and get Pizza Hut before going to the airport, but because of the late start, we went straight to the airport.  If we all had talked and said goodbye for another half hour outside the airport, we'd have been too late.

It was 4:30 when we found all this out, So RB and I hustled to check-in and got our boarding passes, then through security.  After all that, there was a Pizza Hut right by our gate!  We had just enough time for them to make RB a cheese pizza (12 min.) and head to our gate for boarding.  She ate it on the plane.  I was still too queasy.

Once in Chennai, we took the shuttle to the terminal and just camped out on the floor, charging our ipods while we waited for the second flight in 90 min.  They arrived on time and once again we were together.

Our Chennai layover was a grueling 7 hours (6 1/2 for the rest of the team) and we were all exhausted and no one had eaten since lunch the day before.  The four girls had had a sleepover in Sam's room the night before and hadn't gotten to bed until 12:30.  The adults were up almost as late by the time we returned from the fair (more about that later) and packed and showered.  So we sat dully in the Chennai airport, dozing and nodding while we waited.  Linda did some bargaining at the airport shop and got each of the girls a matching silver anklet with bells.

For this flight we went through the craziest security check yet.  We'd gone through a normal security pass to get to the gate.  But once we were boarding at the gate, we had to show our boarding pass and passport, get patted, get our bags screened again, get our passes looked at twice more.

And then the 11 hour flight.  Katie, I guess, was sick for the first 4 hours because she'd forgotten to take her Dramamine.  The rest of us collapsed in our seats.  I think I was sleeping when we took off.  RB and I each slept about 6 hours straight and then dozed on and off for an hour at a time for the rest of the flight.

Some of us felt better in Brussels, some worse.  Iron Stomach Scott was now queasy, Leslie still and Faye feeling worse.  The girls were all better.  I took two Excedrin from Faye and finally felt normal.  On the Brussels/Newark flight I was awake most of the way and finally ate.  I watched two movies. RB took a nap.  The little boy behind me kicked my seat.  It passed fairly quickly for us, but Scott was now throwing up and Faye was sick all over.

We were never so glad to get off a plane as we were in Newark.  Immigration and customs were a breeze.  We sent Faye off to her hotel.  Her next flight isn't until tomorrow.  The rest of us grabbed some food and talked for one last hour before we had to send Texas off.  Now it's just RB and me, waiting for our flight.

I will continue to add pictures to the previous posts and I want to share much more about what we did, the terrific ways Sarah is using your donations, about the kids and what we thought of it all, but I have to get over the jet lag so I can think clearly first.

We all agreed that we're changed by this experience.  We all agreed that we're going back.  I think we might all agree that we have been many times blessed by these kids, maybe more that our blessing them.


Lisa H. said...

Thank you so much for all the posts! It's helped us to understand the ministry and life there better! I look forward to hearing more!

Lisa H.

thecurryseven said...

Welcome back! I hope the last leg of your trip goes smoothly.


Recovering Noah said...

Miss you already!! :(


David and Sarah said...

Thank so much for sharing your journey. I wonder if you could send me an email. I would love to ask you a few questions about your trip.