Tuesday and Wednesday, September 20th and 21st
Josiah and I arrived at the airport with a mix of emotions. While we were excited to be leaving for Sierra Leone, I wish that it were all of us going and not just Josiah and I. Josiah was happy that he was able to get a window seat on the plane (it was what he talked about for the two weeks prior to the trip) and we gave lots of hugs and kisses to Jeneson, Lydia, and Sofia before heading toward security.
Let me just say now that travelling with a 5 year old by yourself is a breeze compared to travelling as a family of 5 with 3 small children! We sauntered through security and wandered around our terminal while waiting for boarding. The Virgin Atlantic flight to London was a breeze. Josiah and I watched a movie, ate our dinner then Josiah changed into his pjs so that he could sleep the rest of the flight.
We arrived at Heathrow International Airport in London for our loooong 6 hour layover (about twice as long as I like my layovers to be). Josiah had the most unusual birthday experience of celebrating his 5th birthday in the London airport, flying in airplanes and landing in Freetown. Josiah donned his birthday hat, I pinned his birthday ribbon to his shirt and we stretched our legs walking around terminal one. After a waffle and fruit smoothie breakfast, we colored a bit, played with the toys in one of the stores, played the card game War and went in search for lunch. Josiah chose a birthday lunch of a chocolate chip muffin with milk, topped off by 3 scoops of chocolate ice cream. (I DO let my kids indulge every once in a while!).
I was surprised on the flight down to Freetown how many Caucasian faces I saw on the plane. I suspect that many of them were miners returning to work in one of the numerous mines in Sierra Leone. I was a bit worried toward the end of the flight. Since we were travelling internationally we were required to fill out an immigration card for the government of Sierra Lone, stuff that I have done many times before. However, this time I had an anxiety provoking revelation that I did not have all the information required by the form. I knew that Rev. Joseph would be picking me up at the airport; I knew that I would be staying out in Mokanji with Charles and Petra, but I did not have any way to contact them! There there we stood in the line for the immigration booth, a very pale woman with her 5 year old son. Suddenly a face peaks out from around the other side of the booth asking me if I am Sandra and handing me a cell phone! It was Joseph!! He was calling me from the waiting area to let me know that he was there to pick me up and that the man who handed me the phone was a 'brother' there to help us with our bags.
We collected our baggage with no difficulty and prepared to leave the airport in the middle of our first African thunderstorm. We drove 10 minutes to a small hotel near the airport to spend the night. While it was not a Holiday Inn, it was clean, had electricity, and running water. After a much needed shower Josiah and I went to bed.
More to come in the days to come chronicling our trip to Sierra Leone.