Thinking & Feeling

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Horace Walpole

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

USA Trip: Taking Nathaniel to his Paternal Roots. Part 1 - Getting There!

So I had an opportunity to go to the states again! Last time I went I was just pregnant with Nathaniel and right in the throes of morning sickness, which really limited my ability to enjoy the trip, we were also very thwarted by the polar vortex so our plans to visit NYC were completely blown.

I was grateful to have gone and to have go the chance to meet A's mom though, as she passed away suddenly about 6 weeks later.

Anyway I was fortunate enough to get a second opportunity to go a few weeks ago, when A suggested I take Nathaniel over to meet up with him there after he attended a conference.

So we have just done 7 flights in 2 weeks, visiting 4 states and staying in 3 different homes with an 8 month old baby who popped out 2 teeth and really got into the swing of eating while we were away. Talk about extreme travelling!

The first 3 flights were just Nathaniel and I. I was rather nervous, not knowing if he'd travel well. He is NOT great at all in the car and tends to protest and yell for the whole trip. I must say he was amazing on the planes. Although he was in-arms almost all the time he really didn't fuss or cry at all. (I can't say I got much sleep at all though). I  had to eat all my meals with one hand, either holding a sleeping baby in the other, or holding a squirmy eager to try everything baby. If you don't know how to do baby lead weaning, or don't know how to start your child on new foods, try sitting in a plane for 24 hours. Sorted. He tried everything, whether I wanted him to or not!
The first flight was from Cape Town to Amsterdam. The flight took ages to leave and although we were meant to leave at 11pm I think we were at least an hour later. So when we got to Schipol the next morning, and walked off the plane to hear the next flight we were booked on boarding at the next gate - and we did not yet have boarding passes! - I had to gallop around to find a transfer desk to help get us on that flight! It was a rushed crazy panic, but we finally got on - second last to board. If the gates were not right next to each other and our boarding passes were not issued right there at the boarding we would never have made it, I had elected NOT to travel with a stroller and just took his infant car seat which I checked in as luggage. 

We were stuck in a rather cramped window seat on the second flight from Amsterdam to JFK, but there was a friendly man next to me who was interesting to chat to, and didn't seem to mind being next to a baby or breastfeeding lady.  So the flight was not too bad He gave me some good advice as to how to navigate JFK airport as I knew my next connection was also pretty tight.

*Aside: I watched 2 movies on the flight both of which I highly recommend. The first was 'The Theory of Everything' about the Life of Stephen Hawking. It was very well made. I loved it. The other is 'Hector and the Search for Happiness' which is a nice lighter, but profound, moving and amusing tale of a psychologist who sets out to find out what/where happiness is and how to find it. My best line was 'Avoiding unhappiness is not the path to happiness.'. Good to remember that one!

Anyway we arrived in JFK and were told we had to collect luggage and clear customs there. They then proceeded to load 3 different flight's luggage on 1 carousel, so there were people and luggage everywhere. Luggage was falling and piling up everywhere and there were mobs of people.... my luggage was nowhere to be seen. We looked and waited for AGES. I asked someone and was told to keep waiting, even if I missed my connecting flight.... I eventually found a more official lady who looked on a computer and discovered our luggage had indeed not even made t onto the second flight and was instead on it's way to DETROIT. Oh joy. She told me to run to try to make my flight and that the luggage would be sent somehow.

I just had our African Baby Carrier with us, which I had tested out on a hike up the back of Table Mountain a couple of days before. It had proved itself to be comfortable, functional and practical. Again I would not have been able to gallop around and move as fast or easily without this great carrier.
So I nonchalantly cleared customs, at pace with a baby on my pack and NO luggage (not suspicious at all), and ran through the airport trying to figure out where to go to find my next flight. We waited in a super long queue ran up and down some more and finally ended up on a bus to the next terminal. Whew sorted. Until the damn bus stopped in the middle of no where.... and just stayed there. We all slowly started suffocating and sweating, and we just SAT. And sat. I despaired ever getting to the flight and was about to have a meltdown when the bus moved, parked and finally let us off. I shoved past the crowd and ran through the terminal getting to the gate just in time to board (again). Whew. Nathaniel was a star quietly sitting on my back and either sleeping or just being calm and content. Winner baby!

I barely remember that 3rd flight but it was really short. Soon we touched down in Boston and were there. I was met there by A's 2 sisters Beck & Marcia, who I already 'knew' via some web chats. They helped us to figure out the luggage situation. We were assured that our luggage would eventually arrive and would be sent to the house when it did, and they loaned us an infant seat to use in the mean time. Eventually we were taken back to Becky's house where we were staying. It was 28-hours since we'd left home in Cape Town.
After chatting and having dinner Nathaniel and I had much needed bath. Luckily I had spare clothing for him, and I loaned some clothes from Becky and before I knew out I had passed out while putting Nathaniel to bed. Only to wake up the next morning to discover A had arrived during the night and had woken up and taken the baby downstairs to play so I could sleep in. BLISS. Also it was my birthday which I had completely forgotten about by then. So when I went down to breakfast there were gifts. :) 

We had a yummy bagel breakfast, and fruit, and pop tarts too. Cos well, when in the states all you do is eat! It is really hard not to as there is SO much food, and as many options and choices everywhere and it all looks good. And a lot of the time it's relatively inexpensive too. Especially the fast foods.

For the rest of the day A drove us around Framingham (the area he grew up in), showing us notable places from his past. We also went to an amazing supermarket which had an incredible variety of amazing foods. It was quite something. We got some lobster salad, crab cakes, quinoa and kale fritters and chocolate chip cookies for a decadent lunch there. We also got some delicious apples. America does apples well and there were SO MANY to chose from. Wow.

When we got back, I went for a 10km run around the neighbourhood of Westborough. Although it was pretty chilly spring was clearly in the air and there were new shoots, flowers and blossoms everywhere. I found and followed the nature trail through the woods and along a stream. I really love running where ever I go, it's a fabulous way to explore and experience a place. You see, hear, smell and feel so much more than you ever would just driving through. You also get to see and greet people and just feel like a local. It's great.
After the run Becky hosted a 'Thanksgiving Dinner' for us. Complete with Turkey, Cranberry, Stuffing, Sweet Potatoes and Gravy etc. Wow, what an honour and treat! Sister Marcia and cousin (?) Janet attended that too.

More in Part 2...

There is a photo album with more trip photos on Facebook here

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