Thursday, May 24, 2012

Kinshasa Can Be FUN: Day 7, 8, 9, and 10 recap!

The last time I was able to blog in Kinshasa it was Day 6 of our trip.  Brian had just come down with some dread disease and on the same day we got the spectacular news that our exit letter was ready and we could leave the country whenever we liked.  We also had a couple of great big thunderstorms which knocked out the power and the internet, which is why I got behind on my blogging.  So here I am getting all caught up.

Well, as you know we didn't leave early because Brian got better but not very quickly.  So we decided not to press the issue.  We would stay until our scheduled flight and enjoy our time in DRC.

Enjoy!  Did you read that right???  Oh yes, if you read my blog posts last year about this time I was lamenting the horrors of my stay in Congo.  I was homesick, my kids at home were freaking out, my babies in Congo were both sick only sleeping 10 minutes a night.  I was exhausted and angry and sad.  I was not having fun.

But there is something wonderful about knowing that you can leave, your adoption is totally complete, that puts you on cloud nine.  We had that stress hanging over us literally until the ride to the airport last year.  So here it was Wednesday and I was done with the stressful part (or so I thought, more on that later).

And even though Brian was pretty crummy company for a couple of days, we made the most of our week.  We met several lovely families waiting to bring home their kids (I'll be blogging about some of them later).  I spent some really great time with our translator.  He took me a few times to a local grocery store (where I found Happy Cow cheese wedges and french bread, hurray!!) and then to a really cool fabric market.  I left the girls with Brian on those trips and it was so freeing to just be a sort of normal "tourist" doing regular tourist things.  The women at the fabric market were pushy and cheeky, offended when I didn't like their patterns and full of smiles when I picked one of their pieces.  I just loved the interaction.  I loved getting out and walking around with the people, taking in the sights and sounds.  I loved speaking the 20 words of French I still remember from high school and still managing to tell a joke or two to people who didn't speak any more English than that.

I really liked the place that we stayed.  Although it had no hot water and sporadic internet service, it was very clean (no ants or other creepy crawlies) and felt very safe.  The rooms were big enough, the king size bed not too hard (the pillows however, were like cement blocks).  There was a bar downstairs, which was not so much a bar as a commons area with the perk of selling beer.  There was a garden out back with huge trees to sit under (including an actual durian tree) and chapel out front that gave us a beautiful view from the balcony near our room.  The food was undeniably icky (a few days before we got there they served caterpillars), but we only ate 2 meals there and then stuck to our noodle soups, granola bars, and Twizzlers.

Please excuse the very bizarre expression on my face!  My shock at seeing durian.

Of course, it can't possibly be a trip to Congo without something unpredictable happening.  On Friday morning I was getting all my paperwork ready for the DGM office at the airport when I discovered that our exit letter had some major errors in it.  Like some other kid's name and some other family's name where ours should have been in a couple of places.  EEK!  Luckily, the right person must have shown up for work on Friday.  Brian was able to go over to DGM and get it fixed with relative ease (relative meaning he had to sit in the parking lot for almost 2 hours while our translator was inside getting it fixed, but it all got done in just one day). 

Saturday morning we did our packing and said our goodbyes.  Mama J, our foster mother, came over for one more goodbye with the girls and I was thrilled that at the end of the visit Louise reached her little arms out for me and cuddled right into my neck.  Just 5 days together and these girls were really mine.

We headed to the airport, which in my opinion is the very worst part of the whole adoption process.  It took forever, but we made it through and made it home.  If you are getting ready for this process yourself, by sure you are completely prepared for the airport.  It is intimidating and sometimes sort of scary.  It is hard to maneuver, there is no airconditioning, your children will start to freak out and everyone will stare.  I guess it's like that one last really painful push of labor!  Be ready!

I only cried 3 times on this trip.  I'm a crier so that was some feat.  Once was when I first held my girls.  Once was the night we skyped with Manny and JoJo.  It is so hard being away from your kids. And once was as I said goodbye to Britta, another wonderful mom we met on the trip.  I've met some very special people through our adoptions and she was definitely one of them.

That brings us to the plane ride home.  I do not recommend traveling for 34 hours straight with two babies.  Unavoidable, but I do not recommend it.  Needless to say it was good to be home. 

But Kinshasa was fun.  I'd do it again!
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