Thursday, August 4, 2016

#22 Nigeria: Saying Goodbye and Flying Home!

We packed a lot in our last few days in Nigeria. One thing I wanted to do was take a family picture for our Christmas card. Since there's nowhere really touristy or picturesque,  I decided take it in front of the compound. That was as representative of our time there as anything else was! Russ and I got the outfits from his co-workers, and our stewardess, Mary, had dresses for the girls made out of Ghanian fabric (she is from Ghana). Sophia told me it made her look like a princess and she wanted to wear it at Disneyland when she met the princesses there.

I also wanted to visit the big art gallery nearby. While we were there, the owner of the gallery dressed us up like King, Queen, and Princesses and took pictures with us :) (Russ's hat...hehe)

Since we moved on my birthday, we celebrated the night before by going out to dinner with some friends. It was really fun, and we miss these good people!

With all the craziness and stress of packing and organizing the day we flew out, I was lucky to have friends looking out for me who brought over cupcakes and sang "Happy Birthday" so it would at least feel a little like my birthday!

Sophia's best friends came over to say goodbye! 

Family picture with the Leaving Lion while we waited for the airport bus! Russ is wearing a shirt from Ghana (matches the girls' dresses), and I'm wearing a Nigerian shirt that matches one Russ has. Apparently traditional clothes are a big thing to give as gifts in Nigeria. :)

with our household staff

About an hour before we left, we were surprised when lots of friends came to see us off. It's a camp tradition I didn't know about. :) This represents most of those who saw me in full stress mode as we got ready to leave. Luckily the bus was late, so we had a few minutes to calm down and say goodbye before we headed out! 

Grace may not admit it, but she misses Mary! 

Sophia and Grace with their Primary/Nursery teachers on their last Sunday 

Views from the bus to the airport. A final goodbye to Nigeria...

This next part is mostly for my own memory so I can transfer it to my journal later...
I don't think there's such a thing as a smooth trip through the Lagos airport. Everything went basically according to plan, until the second security checkpoint at the gate as you board. Sidenote: security there is annoying. They rummage around your checked luggage before you get your boarding pass. Then you do the normal security line for carry-ons. Then at the gate you have to open your carry-ons again while they rummage through them. I was not amused at that point as the guy patted down Grace's teddy bear to make sure nothing was inside or when we told me I had to take out my laptop and turn it on while he watched. The girls and I got through okay, but they decided to detain Russ for "random additional security screening".

After waiting for Russ for about 30 minutes (during which time I was sitting there thinking that any nostalgic or sad thoughts I had about leaving Nigeria were being erased by their annoyingness), he finally asked if there was someone who could help me with the kids and carry-ons so we could board instead of having to wait for him. A while later, the girls and I were in our seats and the plane was past when it was supposed to leave. The flight attendants kept asking where my husband was, and I said I had no idea. A little while later, Russ got on the plane and we departed. Apparently they had Russ and one other guy, and they kept checking their laptops for something (Russ thinks some kind of explosive residue, but who knows) Apparently, sometimes the scan would come back positive. Then they'd test again and it would say negative. Then positive. Basically, the stupid machine was probably broken, but they kept testing the laptops. Personally, knowing Nigeria, I think the security people were looking for a bribe. In the end, both laptops tested negative, but they told Russ he could get on the flight but the other guy had to stay behind (WHAT!?). The flight attendants later came and told Russ that the other guy threw such a fit that airport security put him in prison for the night (again, WHAT!?). So we counted our blessings that Russ was on the flight with us, and shook our heads about having yet another crazy Lagos Airport story.

Both girls were troopers and did awesome on the flights - Business Class REALLY helps. The flight left at about 11pm, so Sophia fell asleep before they even served dinner ("dinner" is a relative term since it's served at midnight or 1am...). Grace stayed awake for dinner, but was hyper-tired. She was kind of noisy, but happy, so hopefully she didn't bother too many people as she laughed loudly at nothing, walked around the aisle cuddling water bottles like babies, and (my personal favorite) snuggled up in her blanket and snored [loudly], pretending to be asleep. She finally zonked out at about 2am. On that first long flight, the girls both slept 8-9 hours, and Russ and I both slept 7 hours, too. It definitely made a difference for the 30+ hours of traveling we did.

We flew from Lagos to Atlanta, went through customs, gathered up ALL our luggage (7 big 70lb suitcases, 4 carry-on suitcases, 4 personal items, the big double stroller, and 2 car seats - too bad I don't have any pictures of all that!) to put on a different conveyer belt, and headed to our next flight. On the 5 hour flight from Atlanta to San Francisco, the girls did great again. After they served us breakfast, I told Grace it was nap time and she said, "Oh. Okay." and curled up in her chair and slept for 3 hours. I was pretty impressed! I think everyone else in the family ended up taking little naps on that flight, too. As we flew into San Francisco, Sophia kept looking out the window saying, "Riley? Riley! Where's Riley?" (from Inside Out).

In San Francisco, we gathered up all our luggage once again to re-check them and had time to stretch our legs, change clothes, and eat lunch before our short 45 minute flight to Bakersfield. Everyone was still in relatively good spirits when we landed (Grace was even toting her cute tiny backpack - filled with nothing but binkies, by the way) and we gathered up all our stuff once again, filled a rental SUV and a taxi with everything and headed out.

We are VERY lucky to have good friends we had met in Covington (whose 5 year old daughter happened to be Sophia's best friend there!) who just moved to Bakersfield two months before us. So from the airport we drove to their new house to meet up with them, eat dinner together, and they graciously let us leave the majority of our stuff with them while we went on a week of vacation! We were all pretty tired by the time we made it to the hotel that night. I think we were all in bed and asleep before 10pm, but luckily the jetlag coming to the US from Nigeria isn't nearly as bad as going the other direction.

All of that traveling was on Sunday, and on Monday morning, we were all up by 6am. At 9:30, we met our relator to see our house in person for the first time! I definitely never thought we'd buy our first home via pictures on the Internet, but I still think we chose well. It's a very pretty house, and I'm excited to move into it! But all of that is for another post at another time. :)

1 comment:

Carson said...

Wow, you sure did a great job of journaling about your time in Nigeria. This blog will be a great resource for the girls someday, since they probably won't have any actual memories of living there. That's a sweet picture of Grace and Sophia with their Primary teachers.
We can relate to your flying out of Lagos Airport experience. Thank goodness Russ didn't end up spending his last night in Nigeria in jail!! Welcome back to the good ol' USA (too bad you're in nutty California, though.)