Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Return

Well, we’ve been home for a while and I thought it might be time to catch up on the return trip update. We flew out of Israel on Friday, the 1st of July. Our flight was at 5pm, so we had the morning to finish packing and check out with the landlady. Then, we loaded the car (shocked that we were able to pack a Subaru Impreza with 5 stuffed duffle bags, a stroller, three carry-on bags, two adults and a toddler in car seat), and drove to Bowden’s for a farewell lunch. We went from there to the airport, leaving at 12:30. The drive is about an hour and after dropping off the rental car and going through all the check-in and security, we made it to our plane just in time to board.

The airport in Israel is pretty tough on security. You first go through a preliminary bag-screening/passport check line where you wait and wait and eventually someone comes and takes your passports and looks at you suspiciously. Kip had a special letter from Intel informing the airport that he was there from Intel and supposed to leave that day. They took it away, as well as all our passports and made me worry for a little while. Then, they came back and asked the traditional questions about who packed our luggage and if strangers gave us things. We answered those satisfactorily and were allowed to send our bags through the x-ray machines. One was flagged for manual search (I think they do that to everyone), so that was the next stop. The ladies looked through the bag pretty lightly. Some of them were totally emptying people’s bags and searching everything inside, so I was relieved that they just opened ours and pointed to a few things and then let us go.

Next, we got in the British Air check-in line. It was a long line and I’d been standing too long already, so William and I went to a vacant check-in spot and I sat on the luggage scale while William ran back and forth between a big ceiling-supporting column and me. He would hit the column and laugh and run back to me, only running into people every now and then. When Kip got up to the front, William and I joined him and checked in. After finishing, we started to walk away, but our checker girl ran after us and asked me how far along I was. I told her 35 weeks and she looked concerned. So, I pulled out the note I’d gotten from my doctor the day before saying I was fine to travel. She took it to her supervisor who shook her head “no, no, no” and Kip and I started to look concerned. It turned out they just weren’t aware of the travel-while-pregnant policy and had to look it up, but we spent a few minutes really worrying that we would have to stay in Israel another 2-3 months and have a baby there and I REALLY wanted to go home. Finally, they brought back over the note, having made a copy for their file, and sent us on our way.

The flight from Israel to London was fairly uneventful for us. There was another woman who went into some sort of medical trauma and the flight attendants asked people not to use the rear restrooms, but I was fine. William got a little stir crazy and the woman in front of us gave me significantly dirty looks several times. I thought she ought to be happy that she wasn’t sitting in front of an Israeli family because the prevailing child-rearing attitude there seems to be one of non-intervention. About 2 hours into the flight, I decided that Kip had been inspired to give us a lay-over night in London because the thought of getting on another plane that evening made me sick. All I wanted to was stretch out on a soft bed and not have anyone glaring at me or pushing their knees into my back.

The night in London was great. We rode the bus to our hotel, not far from the airport, and snuggled into our beds. In the morning, I took advantage of the large bathtub while Kip and William explored the bus and subway system around the airport. They had a blast. When they got back we all took a nap and then headed to the airport for our long long flight.

Check-in this time was easy. We already had our boarding passes and only had one back to check, so we got to go through a short line and then on into the airport. We got a nice lunch and then went to our plane.

William did great on the flight. We bought him a model double-decker bus at the airport and pulled it out about an hour into the flight. He spent the next two hours driving it all around in our set of seats. It was the best toy purchase I think I’ve ever made. Then, he fell asleep and slept about 6 of the 9 hours we were on that flight. Kip and I got to watch a lot of the movies. I chose two light-hearted love-comedies (I can’t handle anything intense when pregnant and especially not when pregnant and uncomfortable on an airplane seat) and Kip watched some action/drama shows. Then, when I couldn’t handle any more movies/TV, I read my book and slept a little bit. And, of course, I made frequent trips to the bathrooms or just stood up and stretched my legs. I was really impressed with the fact that my ankles never really swelled up and I can still wear my wedding ring. With William, I had to take it off long before this point in the pregnancy.

Anyway, we landed in Denver at 6:30 and had 2 hours to get through customs and out to the domestic terminal to catch our next flight. We nearly didn’t make it. Customs went just fine, but we were at the end of the line and it didn’t move very fast. Unlike in London, where they let us through an alternate passport check line (the one for locals instead of foreigners), in Denver they made no exceptions for the largely-pregnant and obviously-uncomfortable. Everything has to be fair in this country. It kind of bothered me. So, we waited and waited and finally got our passports looked at and sent on to collect our bags. That part went pretty fast. We found all our bags, rolled them to the right spot, loaded them on another conveyer and sent them away. Then, the girl at the conveyer counter pointed us in the direction to our connecting flight. We went up and through security again. This time, they made us all take off our shoes. I had forgotten about that part of flying. They didn’t ask us to do it in London or even in Israel. Why would Denver have to be so picky? Especially with a pregnant lady who can hardly reach her feet. It made me mad at the American flight system yet again. But maybe I was only so hard on them because I’d already been traveling too long. So, we made it through the security check and onto the subway to the other terminals and rushed out to our gate only to have the doors closed right as we got there. They had just given our seats to some standby travelers. We weren’t happy. So, they called back the people they had just put on the flight and let us get one instead.

Three hours later, we were in Portland. Our neighbor gave us a ride home and, at 11pm, we were finally there. It was wonderful to be back. William was wide awake, having slept the majority of both flights from London, so we went to Winco and bought food to restock our empty kitchen. We got some funny looks for being there with a toddler at midnight, but I was a little too out of it to care much. It was just good to be home.