Its the first post on our trip... and a lot happened in the last 48 hours so get comfy because this is a long one!
So I timed this one... we are about five hours and ten minutes into it. I am in the middle seat, in between Becca (on the aisle) and a nice Ethiopian man (on the window). I am unfortunately sitting in front of an Ethiopian basketball star, I am assuming here, of course, but for good reason, because his legs are resting on the back of my seat like he had to hold them up at an angle because they wouldn't fit just straight and it is pushing me forward, so I cant even think about leaning back (I wouldn't want to ruin his career)...anyways, I have already managed to watch The Great Gatsby, which is awesome if you havent seen it... you see I am a pretty big fan of that book, and I usually dont think that movies do their books justice, but I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of this movie... I have slept for an hour and also ate the first meal of our plane ride.
About an hour and a half into the flight which meant it was noon, they brought us our first delicious meal.... Upon purchasing our flight a couple months ago the airline gave us the option of selecting a meal for any specific dietary needs, so naturally I selected "Gluten Free"... then the flight attendant came down the aisle today and said "chicken, beef, or pasta" I said, well I think I asked to have a special meal because of a food allergy and she said "Oh, yes... let me go get it." She returned with the regular chicken dish marked gluten free... it came complete with two whole wheat rolls, a pasta bowl, a little side of fruit and a bowl of rice and chicken. I said, "Perfect, thank you!" Then laughed and put my two rolls and pasta dish to the side and tried to eat a few bites of everything else. Thank god my mother insisted we take those extra packets of almonds and cashews.
Becca and I also made friends with a family of Ethiopians next to us... and by that I mean that Becca made friends with them and I just sat behind her and smiled and acted like I was making them laugh... seriously though she is the best with kids, I have never seen anything like it. This family was a mother and her two daughters and they were just LOVING Becca. The girls were probably 2 and 4 years old and although they didn't speak english were getting along perfectly with Becca. The airlines gave all of us a travel kit, with a toothbrush and socks and a sleeping mask. So the kids obviously tore theirs apart and were playing with it... Becca naturally, started a hide and seek game with them and within 5 minutes of the flight had them laughing at the top of their lungs (the people around were not so happy with the loud laughter, but who can be that upset with kids who are happy?) So that was fun.
Lastly (as though much more could happen in just 5 hours of sitting on a plane) because we are traveling to Africa we are on Malaria medication, and just a few days ago when my whole family was over at a BBQ to say goodbye, one of my family members suggested that we should drink tonic water to help combat malaria as well. And within the last few months, my buddayy Angie Kerr got me turned on to drinking seltzer water, which for some reason I assumed was the same as mineral water, which was the same as tonic water. So the flight attendant came around and I ordered a tonic water... man was I wrong. That stuff is HARD TO DRINK! Caught me so off guard, I almost spit it out on my delicious gluten free meal. I dont even have a comparison for what it taste like to me, but my body reacted like I was taking a shot of cheap vodka. I got chills, made a stank face and had to plug my nose to try to hide the flavor. Woooo was that rough. So, that will be a hard adjustment for me... but if it means I wont get malaria I will do it. OOOOO though, it is not pleasant.
Its now about 48 hours later and I already have a lot more stories for you. We arrived in Harare, Zimbabwe at about 2:00 pm local time. In all of our correspondence with the program before we got here we arranged for someone to meet us at the airport who would then take us to a place called the Zimbabwe Women's Bureau where we had some rooms reserved for us.
So we got off the plane and thank goodness collected our two big duffles full of gear for the programs then walked out to look for someone who would drive us... out of the 10 people standing outside of the airport none of them had signs with either of our names on it. So we took a taxi to the women's bureau. There we took our two big bags and went to reception. When we walked in the receptionist was beyond confused. No one had received any information that we were coming, reserved rooms or even what organization we were with. Luckily for us though, Zimbabweans are extremely kind and welcoming people and they gave us a room to stay in for two nights.
We have met a few really amazing people who have blown our minds with stories already. We walked to the grocery store to purchase dinner which was a can of corn, a can of green beans, a can of baked beans and peanut butter and jelly on corn crackers and it was delicious. Then we went on a walk down the street the opposite direction and as we were walking we noticed that almost everyone was staring at us... we are quite obviously the minority here. One car full of men yelled "Mrs. Smith, HALLLOOOO!" We laughed at that one.
We then came across a woman and said hello to her. She asked if we were Americans and we started talking and that led into quite a lengthy conversation. Her name was Ruda, which means love in English. And because we couldnt pronounce her name correctly she said just call me Auntie Love. She invited us for tea the next time we came to town and invited us to stay at her home the next time we come to Zimbabwe. So, basically what I am saying is that there are some very generous, kind and welcoming people here.
Then for the last story in this post, Becca and I were just getting ready for bed just now, I was in the midst of writing the stories from the day and we heard a knock at our door. So I put back on my glasses and we opened the door to find our nice neighbor lady. She said, "Come meet my husband." So we headed next door and she poured us a glass of Coke Zero (even though when she asked "Would you like Coke?" We said "No thank you") (Lesson learned... its rude to not accept, they dont take no as an answer and even though you REALLLLLYYY dont want a glass of coke zero at 8 PM, you must accept it). We sat and talked to the nice, odd looking couple. They told us that they are in the diamond business and basically blew our minds with stories, money figures, and photos of their lives. Again very welcoming, kind and generous people... and I must say, I now feel extremely comfortable and safe staying next door to them.
Thats all for now folks. The most important things are that we are happy and healthy and missing you all back home already!
Love you all!