We were all excited to be home, but nobody in our group was excited about the actual process of going home. We had a direct flight out of Hong Kong (a 2.5 hour drive from Guangzhou), a 14 hour flight home, then a four hour drive. And that was the shortest route I could calculate.
We left at 5:45 am in the morning and Jason had a van ready with a boxed breakfast for each of us to eat on the way. He gave us explicit instructions on paperwork for entry into Hong Kong, the airport and immigration. I almost felt like crying when it was time to say goodbye. Perhaps it was the fact that so much had taken place in the last two weeks and CCAI had taken such good care of us. No detail had been too small. No question too dumb.
Our experience was amazing and now it was time to pull away from the curb and say goodbye to someone who had helped us complete one of the greatest adventures of our lives. As I looked at his smile as we drove away, I realized that it was likely I will never see him again. I certainly won’t find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any of the other social connections we Americans take for granted. But I will hold him and the other CCAI reps (Yisha, Vivian, William and Cecelia) in my heart for a lifetime.
The sun rose as our van drove us 2.5 hours through the hills to Hong Kong. I’m a little sorry we didn’t spend some time in Hong Kong, because it looked gorgeous. But we were so ready to get home that we couldn’t be lured by an exotic desitination. I will put it on my bucket list!
We were able to navigate getting checked in (with an emigrating citizen) and to the gate without issue. (Insert audible sigh of relief.) There were TWO security checks of baggage (one right at as we boarded the plane) which was no small task with two little ones in tow.
I would love to tell you that there was no drama on the flight, but let’s be real here folks. A 2.5 year old and a 14 hour flight is not a good combination any way you slice it. At about hour seven, she got fussy and couldn’t sleep and who could blame her. I got ‘the look’ as a gentleman in the row in front of us leaned up and over to indicate he wasn’t happy with her crying. We had tried every snack, toy and trick and I was quickly rocking to and fro at that point. Out of frustration and pure exhaustion, I leaned up and in towards him with a look that said ‘bring it on buddy, I’m doing the best I can and she’s two for cryin’ out loud.’ He turned around and sat back down…
Touching down on American soil was cause for celebration since it made our daughter officially a citizen! I felt relief knowing that were home and could start the next phase of our journey. (And the fact that I knew I could order a coke without pointing or needing sign language!) Because she was an immigrant, we had to wait through multiple lines to finish paperwork (not to mention baggage claim and another baggage security scan.) It took us almost two hours just to get out of the airport.
It was a joy to see my brother-in-law Tony who was waiting on us and the first familiar face in the USA.
We hopped in the car for a four hour ride home (which may have been the longest four hours of my life.) Aunt Jenny and Cousin Ashton had left a welcome-home trail of pink ribbons and Dad was waiting on us with a welcome sign and flowers for all his girls. (Love you Dad! ) Grandma Patty was there too with toys and smiles for her granddaughters. She even got a high five from Little Li as a sign of acceptance of official grandma-hood before leaving. (Love you too Grandma!) Hulaloo could barely contain her excitement for two of her favorite people in the whole world, who had been half a world away for two weeks. (So thankful for FaceTime and Skype!) I also have to give a shout out to both of my sisters-in-laws Jenny and Christina for having food ready for us. It was such a relief to be able to sit down and eat without much effort after almost 26 hours of travel.
And so it both ended and began for us. Our international adventure ended, but the new chapter of our lives as a family began. Thank you for joining us on the journey of a lifetime. I’ve received a lot of positive feedback, so I am going to continue blogging. It won’t be every day or a glamorous international escapade, but it will be a continuation of the ups and downs of the journey of life. You are welcome to come along. Perhaps we will learn something together.