Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cleared for Takeoff!

World traveling has started up again in the Belk house...but with only two this time.  And I must say these two miss the other five VERY much. 

Our flight left Dulles Friday afternoon at 5:50pm...we had no issues with security, no issues at all and made it on the flight with time to spare.  As we found our seats we were bummed to see there was no personal entertainment set up on this plane...Janis was assigned 39A and I was 39C...I went ahead and took B with the assumption no one would mind switching with me.  As 5:50pm drew nearer, I realized maybe there was no B...which meant we would get a seat between us and hopefully  help with stretching legs and sleeping.

Sure enough we had the empty seat and settled in/set up camp in that empty seat.  We were ready for the 7 hour flight to Frankfurt.  As we taxied down the runway, a terrible realization hit me.  We had secured wonderful rooms at a nice spa in Jurmala...and I forgot my swimsuit!  Janis said not to never buy anything for yourself Mom, you'll get a Latvian swimsuit!  And in his favorite saying, he quipped, "oh, and your  husband called and said you can buy anything you want."  HAHA.  Still, it always happens I forget something...and it just irritated me. 

This was the first time in all his flights that Janis had been assigned a window seat for the "big" leg of the journey and he thoroughly enjoyed it.  Some of his comments were great.  "The ground looks like the sky and the lights are stars." "Now I understand how God sees us...we're so little and His hand could just sweep us away."  It was at that moment we realized we were right over Baltimore and we wondered what everyone else was up to.  Wal-mart pizza and a Red box movie if tradition was correct (which a quick check to the suntrust account later confirmed this ;-)).

We were both starving and to let you know how much, Janis even said that if it was fish and mushrooms he'd eat it...two of his least favorite things.  Dinner finally came and it was pasta or chicken...I chose pasta, he chose chicken.  Good for airline food...amazing to me (and here comes my hotel catering girl poppinng up) we got two decent sized shrimp on our salad, no iceberg lettuce - only frisee and spinach, chocolate mousse with white chocolate shavings and a monster strawberry on top, then entree and the obligatory cheese slice with bread.  I've determined they run a decent profit I'm sure because they have ridiculous portion control.  The salad was the size I serve for my hors d'oeuvres menus!  Janis even ate his shrimp.

After a cup of coffee (mini sized of course) we settled in and both of us fell asleep.  Not sure what woke us but we did wake up for the movie "Dolphin Tale."  And then we realized our 7 hour flight was turning in to 6.5 hours and we were only 1.5 hours from landing in Frankfurt.  I read, he PSP'd, we waited.  They came around with our breakfast snack which was fruit (remember portion control? we had watermelon - one piece, kiwi and strawberry - several pieces, and one tiny blueberry), whole wheat roll with strawberry jam, granola bar and yes, the obligatory cheese slice.  I very much want to call this the cheese wedge but it isn't...just a thin slice.  Finally we landed and were way ahead of schedule.  It was about 7am Frankfurt time.  We gathered our things and headed out...once I hit the jetway I realized we had left my camera!  I went back in and thankfully it was there in our "empty seat" under a pillow. 

We made our way to the gate and sat for a moment with 3 hours to kill.  Restrooms, organizing our bout a snack?  We went in search of something to eat...found a little kiosk called Perfect Day.  Passed on by and there was a convenience store kind of place and then an asian place called Moosh Moosh (HAHA).  We could get us a noodle bowl and beer at 7am!  YUCK!  We headed back to Perfect Day and settled on yogurt with fresh fruit and Muesli for me with a capuccino and some kind of meat sandwich with capuccino for Janis.  The price tag on this meager breakfast?  16 Euro...about $22 bucks.  Whoa! That was more than half my budget per day for us!  Oh well, I knew some cheap eats were awaiting us in LV and our free ride from the airport was saving us more than that.

Headed back to the gate, enjoyed our snack.  Laughed and chatted some more...both of us were getting punchy because fatigue was really starting to set in.  I thought I better check our flight to make sure the departure gate had not changed...wonder upon wonders it had!  From A42 to A38...we moved to the other gate with still plenty of time to spare.  As we neared that gate, Janis started looking at the people going with us...yep, he's Latvian, oh yeah, she's Latvian...him? No, he doesn't look Latvian. Just made me laugh.

Boarded the plane and both of us fell asleep nearly immediately.  Missed the snack (cheese sandwich ;-)) and finally landed in Riga.  As the plane neared it was odd seeing land come into view.  I told Janis this was the first time I was coming to Latvia with no anxiety.  The first time it was us with Eddie, the second time it was all of us and wondering about  just coming to handle business and see friends.  This was also the first time we were landing and not having to walk across the tarmac or take a little bus to the small plane.  We actually pulled to a jetway and walked right into the airport!

Restroom stop, organize our luggage and head to baggage claim.  Thankfully both of our bags made it through fine and we went out to see if we could find Kristiana.  Right there she was!  With a surprise!  Aigars was with her!  She gave big hugs with tears and I hugged Aigars and we traded and it was wonderful.  Moment I had...I had no tears...which bewildered me.  Now I realize heart was with me ;-)  Janis and Eddie have been home and my family is complete.  So many love Janis...and Eddie...and now they are the ones missing them.  Made me sad and glad if you can understand that.  I hurt for them but am so incredibly grateful for us!

We loaded up in the Spriditis van and began the familiar drive to Jurmala.  There is snow...lots of it...not as much as last year yet.  And it is cold!  Very very cold!  We drove to the hotel and found parking pretty easily.  They helped us unload and we checked in.  The hotel is nice...right on Jomas iela and so fun to be here when we've visited so often.  Looks very much like it did last March when Gary and I were here. 

It truly doesn't seem right to be here without Gary...seeing things we've seen together.  And to be here this time with only one kid in tow...But, we're using this time to handle the business and enjoy each other.  We got to our room with Aigars and Kristiana helping us with luggage.  Once we got to the room, the presents came out!  Wonderful people had sent presents for Janis and Eddie since they were officially still on the list of kids at Spriditis.  Candy and toys and watches...Janis opened several and then once he hit the watch, he said Eddie can have all that was left.  There were two boxes for each of them...we opened Janis' and there were so many nice things...some he didn't care for and said he would leave for the other kids. 

We visited for a short while then Kristiana had to go.  Aigars stayed with us and we thought about what to do.  Well, since we were at a place were all the spas, pools, etc were included in our rate, we decided I needed to find a bathing suit.  So, off we went.  I found one reasonably priced just across the pink no less UGH! Oh well...I'll forever have the memory of my hot pink Latvian swimsuit HAHA.  We kept walking towards the train station and the boys said they were hungry so we stopped into the first place we came to...crowded!  Nowhere to sit but in the smoking thanks.  Went on and found Sasliki restaurant...crowded we moved on.  We were going back to "our place" right beside the hotel and there's this double decker bus on the way that's been converted to a restaurant.  We figured why not? 

Pizceria Ripo was our dining spot.  A super large salami (pepperoni) pizza with two sodas and a water and we went upstairs to eat.  It was so fun!  And the food was really good.  As we started to leave, I asked Janis to leave a tip since I didn't have any cash yet...he commented she wasn't very good!  I understood that but 30 centimes wasn't going to break us and maybe she would think differently after we left.  Janis and I were starting to wear down so after we went back to the hotel.  Passed the Russian kitty on our way back (M&M will remember this kitty...same guy we saw in September that was so huge and fluffy).  Considered buying some thigh high wool socks...but thought better of it ;-)

Back at the hotel, we just hung out.  Aigars and Janis called a bunch of friends and caught up...having fun tricking them and saying "you know who this is??"  It was so fun to listen to them laugh and chat.  Even if I couldn't understand a word they were saying.  Aigars realized  his bus was not leaving for another hour and a I decided a shower would be good. 

Interesting things about our room...1. It is tiny.  The photo on line showed this large room...angle of photography makes all the difference.  2.  We figured out how to run the have to put a key in a slot by the door and it has to stay there the entire time you're in the room.  3.  We have no clue how to run the TV...that will be a challenge for day two.  4.  The cooling/heating is in Celsius...I'm at Janis' mercy there LOL

After Aigars left I could tell something was not quite right.  We were too tired for the pool so decided to just turn in for the night.  He misses his freedom...going out walking and visiting with just friends.  Funny thing is I don't really mind...he just didn't ask.  We were both tired so we decided to sleep on it and figure it all out tomorrow.  Overall a great day.  So much here to love...and so much here to reflect on.  Still a bit of competition feeling here.  There's a struggle for his heart but he's made it clear he's chosen us.  And that is a lot to be thankful for. 

Enough for now...finishing this up on Sunday morning when it appears the rest of you are just getting up.  Update on Sunday later today...Have a great day America!  We love you!

Verse from last night for me and Janis:  "I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. John 10:10"

Appropriate as we continue on this journey leading to a new life here on this earth...and appropriate to remember as we help this amazing boy say goodbye to so much here and hello to amazing things for his future. That future with Him is more important than anything else we can do.

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