Rather than simply change planes in Brussels, we decided to spend a few days there, to adjust a bit to the time difference, and have a family break before starting life in Guinea. This picture sums up our five days in Brussels.
We had such a wonderful family time, to decompress, eat, drink, and be silly.
The flight to Conakry, was a deep (and LOUD) dive into local culture! The man a few rows ahead, traveling with his two young daughters, had his hands full. When he couldn’t get one of them to shush, either someone sitting within the sound barrier (eight rows front, back, and either side), or someone within arm’s reach, would take one of the girls.
Sometimes the man would raise a daughter up over his seat and hand her to an unwitting (but apparently not unwilling) passenger. Sometimes it was initiated by the fellow passenger. All of these were strangers.
And, strangely enough, each of them tried their hand at quieting the child. Some were men, some were women. They each succeeded in getting the girls to sleep. And then they would quietly pass the angelic, and finally quiet, girls back to their dad.
Our cabin on board the Africa Mercy has been a pleasant surprise! It’s 10% of the size of our house, (it’s still our house–the sale fell through) but much bigger than we anticipated. We’ve got Peanut’s stroller and backpack shoved behind the end of the couch, but we’re in!
The kids’ room has a bunk bed for the older two, and Peanut sleeps in a pack n’ play at the foot of their bed. The room is just wide enough for him to reach over the side of his crib, open either of his siblings’ closets, and dump all their contents on the floor. He’s greatly amused. They’re campaigning for me to pay them in TV-time, every time they have to clean up one of his messes. I like the idea of paying for chores with something other than cash, but not sure TV-time is the winning currency.
Our “Master Bedroom” (had to say that - it makes me snort and giggle) is cozy. I love that Dreamboat and I literally brush past each other a dozen times an hour. Small spaces make for lots of contact. Can’t beat that.
Hmmm…I’m thinking that in the next house, we should switch the master bedroom with the closet. That’s a much better use of space.
Speaking of closets, I brought ALL the wrong clothes. This is a Moslem part of Africa. No ‘kneevage’ allowed. I’m looking at my knees with new eyes!
During breakfast, early one morning, (and, I do mean EARLY. There are mandatory meetings that start at 7:45 am, and Dreamboat had left at 4:00am for a screening of potential patients with DOUBLE cataracts.) Miss O was telling me that I don’t understand how hard it is to be my daughter. Had I shown more sympathy to her plight, we might have avoided the incident that followed. But, I didn’t. And here’s what did.
Miss O, quite dramatically left to use the restroom. When closing the bathroom door, which is about three inches from the kitchen sink, she was making a point. Firmly. And she locked it.
Now, the room we’re staying in isn’t used often. And, it was once the showcase cabin while the ship was being retrofit. And the keys to the rest of the ship don’t work here. And our doors are solid metal.
Without knowing any of this, Miss O shortly tried to leave the bathroom. The door would not unlock. I have to admit I wasn’t feeling my MOST charitable, so I let G try to help her for a minute. Then, I tried pulling the door while she tried the lock. Then pushing the door. Then we tried passing things like coins under the door, to see if she could use them to unscrew something. Anything. G tried passing his math under the door. I think perhaps he had ulterior motives for that one. But, I didn’t think it was serious. For Pete’s sake, if she locked the door, she could eventually unlock it. Right? So, while I tidied up from breakfast, we continued to encourage her through the locked door, and her voice stopped quivering and took on more of an annoyed tone. Again. I chalked it up to all the adjusting we’re doing, and continued trying to help.
After thirty minutes, I sheepishly called Reception, told them of our situation, and asked if there’s a master key. Within minutes the Duty Officer arrived. He called the First Officer. Who called the Captain. They worked for TWO AND A HALF HOURS.
While we waited, I took advantage of the forced halt to the day, ran Peanut up to Preschool (a thirty-second-commute), and made coffee to share with the Captain. We had a great chat and the officers provided emotional support to Miss O, asking her how she was doing every minute or two. I kept her supplied with reading material.
Finally, several drill bits later, and after trying several other options, including a crowbar to the frame, they drilled through the lock.
I’m grateful for the perceived lack of my empathy, as there was a great life-lesson for my girl.
I will also be grateful when a blank plate is placed over the gaping hole in the bathroom door.
There’s not enough bandwidth to upload the fifteen pictures I had planned to include. You can use your imaginations.
We all, truly, love the adventure so far.