Day 1 and 2 – Sunday, 13 December and Monday, 14 December
All packed and out the door on time…we arrived at the Fort Wayne airport in time to discover that our originating flight was delayed, but only by 30 minutes. With 4 hours in Detroit, we had plenty of slack. No worries! We checked our luggage, hung out with Masha for a few extra minutes, then cleared security and the trip was on….
Our first flight carried us to Detroit in a whopping 26 minutes…by far the shortest leg of our journey. The next flight, Detroit to Amsterdam, was scheduled to depart at 9:55 PM, and pushed back right on time. After a short wait for de-icing, the plane lifted off and we said “????” to the United States. Eight grueling hours and two inedible meals later, we landed in The Netherlands just 15 minutes before boarding began for our next flight to Kyiv! I quickly dropped into “run for your flight” mode, with Mark scrambling to keep up…I don’t think he’s ever seen me move that fast before!! Fortunately, Schipol airport is easy to navigate, and we arrived at our next gate with time to spare. Board and relax for our final 2.5 hour flight to Kyiv.
As we approached Kyiv about 4:30 in the afternoon, the first thing we noticed was that it was pitch dark. Kyiv is quite a bit further north than Fort Wayne, and it gets dark early here! After landing, we queued up in a long line for immigration, and then on to customs. While I filled out the customs forms, Mark went to collect our luggage. He quickly deposited one of our bags at my feet, but a few minutes later he came back with a concerned look…our other two bags were not anywhere to be found. The good news: the bag we had contained all the gifts we had carried for everyone else. The bad news: the missing bags contained all our own clothes and our US to European power adapter! Fortunately, the risk manager in me came through—I had our first three days of essentials (including dress clothes and shoes for our SDA appointment) in a rollerbag that we carried with us.
The lost luggage line didn’t seem all that long, only about 5 people ahead of us. But it was nearly an hour later when I was able to get in and speak with one of the agents. I handed over my bag claim tags (thank goodness I kept them!) and she began staring intently at her computer. I filled out 20 minutes worth of new customs forms and forms authorizing them to clear the luggage through customs and deliver it to us.
One thing we learned on our first trip to Ukraine was to trust our facilitator and go with the flow. Many arrangements are made on the fly, and the Ukrainian method of information sharing is quite different from ours. Because of this, when we landed in Kyiv we had no idea where we would be staying, we just knew we would be taken care of. So imagine my dread when I arrived at the “Delivery address” field on the lost luggage claim form! Fortunately, we did have our facilitator’s cell phone number, so I put that on the form and hoped that they would call him to find out where to bring our bags, if they ever found them….
Forms completed and signed, we cleared customs and finally saw a familiar face–one of the drivers that had helped us last time. He quickly grinned and waved to us. We also met our facilitator/translator for this trip. We quickly loaded into the van, and headed toward town.
On the way to the apartment, we stopped at a supermarket, where we were able to exchange money, get a SIM card for our phone, and get some basic groceries. While perusing the aisles, we remembered the amazing fruit juices that are available here, and also the tremendous variety of frozen pelemeni and vereneki. It was hard to choose just one or two!!
Finally, our shopping was complete and we piled into the car and drove to our apartment. Our translator helped us carry our few bags and groceries up to the apartment, showed us around, and then left us on our own around 8:00 PM. We had been travelling for 22.5 hours, and had been awake for almost 30. We quickly boiled some pelemeni and ate in a daze, then showered.
Our final surprise for the evening was the discovery that the little bag with Mark’s iPod and iPhone were not in my purse…I couldn’t imagine them being stolen from my bag—there was no way to know what was in the bag, and there were other valuable things in my purse that were more visible (like my laptop, blackberry, my iPod) that were all still there. After some very painful thought, I concluded they could have fallen out of my bag in the car. We called our translator, and she called our driver, but unfortunately he had dropped the car off at the garage, and couldn’t look for the phone until the morning. Oh. And as we were calling around with our translator, we discovered that the unlocked phone we had brought with us would only work on speakerphone. DOH!
We went to bed with a sense of loss…lost luggage, lost phone, lost sleep…but we are here, safe, and about 6,000 miles closer to our new daughter. That’s what counts.