Airports & Planes
Bringing the girls home was such an interesting experience. They had obviously never been to an airport, likely never even seen a plane. Entering the airport the morning of departure they were both understandably nervous and quiet. They certainly found passing through security interesting. And for some reason in the Port au Prince Airport you have to pass through three security points before finally entering the terminal boarding area. So, that's three times of taking off jackets, belts, shoes, etc. and having those items pass through scanning machines and then putting everything back on. I have no idea what the girls were thinking. Based on their puzzled expressions I would imagine the first time their belongings went down the conveyor and into the big metal box they figured they would never see them again. Maybe they thought they would go home barefoot. When their things came out the other side perhaps they thought they had been washed. But then we had to do it again, and again. It must have all been very bizarre in their minds.
They were very quiet waiting to board that first flight from Port au Prince. As we boarded the plane the girls had a very tight grip on our arms. Neither one had any interest in looking out the window. Both glanced out momentarily when the plane began to move to taxi out. As the engines roared to push the plane down the runway for take-off, both had pretty big eyes and a solid hold on our arms. During the planes initial climb we experienced one really good bump of turbulence. Redjina let out a "whew". Jesula never made a sound. After the flight leveled out they appeared to relax. They enjoyed the juice from the flight attendants. Their eyes were constantly scanning the environment around them. I told Redjina I was going to the poddy (lavatory), and she said "Popi, the plane has a poddy?" So, she went too. The noise of the descent into the Miami airport and the big bumps touching down onto the runway seemed slightly less scary to them than take-off.
Once off the plane in Miami they were fine. Jesula almost tripped. She likes to slide her feet when she walks. That works great on the concrete floors in the orphanage, but didn't work so well the first time she has ever walked on carpet. Then she kind of kicked at it trying to figure out what it was.
Over the course of our next two flights on the journey home they both became more comfortable with air travel. Redjina ventured to the lavatory on every flight. Jesula never left her seat. On the final flight into Knoxville they both wanted to sit by the window. Jesula slept for a little while. Then she stared out the window never making a sound. At one point we were flying over a solid mass of white clouds as far as could be seen, and Redjina said "Popi, is that the sea?"
Hotels & Food
After arriving in Miami and clearing passports and immigrations, we headed for the Miami International Airport Hotel which is located inside the airport terminal. On the way we had to take three long escalators which Jesula didn't care for at first. She had a hard time negotiating the getting on and off process. But by the third one she thought it was fun and was giggling as she jumped on and off.
The girls were fascinated with the hotel lobby which had a beautiful Christmas Tree, and the check-in process. They were fascinated with my visa card which happens to have their picture on it. The elevator ride up to our floor was interesting. Jesula didn't want to get inside the elevator but decided she would since we did and she didn't want to be left behind. Up and away came with big eyes and then smiles. The small white plastic card that opened the hotel room door seemed strange to them.
The rooms were not spectacular, but very nice and comfortable compared to our room the night before in in Haiti. I will never forget seeing Jesula and the look on her face, within minutes of walking in the room, spread all out on her back on the soft pillow-top mattress and a sea of fluffy pillows. Jesula loved the big flat panel television, the remote control, and the number of channels to surf through. They had never before experienced hot water or lying in a bathtub. Needless to say, they loved the warm bath.
After trying to explain food options, the girls decided to try pizza for supper. So we headed down to the California Pizza Kitchen in the terminal mall area. The two ladies working there were Haitian. They were fascinated with us, and the girls, and went on and on about how beautiful the girls were. Redjina got a personal size peperoni and Jesula a personal size cheese. They both ate every bite. They love it. They had orange juice to drink. For that matter they had orange juice on every plane and with every meal along the way. We are already on gallon number two of orange juice on the third full day of being home.
More firsts to come!