Monday, November 16, 2009

Day 1: Travel

Before the trip, both Keith and I had been pretty anxious about all the travel. First hurdle: two legs of a plane trip from Cleveland to Houston, and Houston to San Jose, Costa Rica. Each leg was about 3-4 hours, luckily we were meeting up with Keith's parents, sister, and brother-in-law in Houston for the flight to San Jose. We told ourselves that we just needed to make it through the first leg, and then we would have reinforcements.

After the flights, all six of us hopped into a large van. We drove for about two hours, then waited an hour for the ferry. The ferry ride (pictured) took another hour, and then we had about another 2-hour drive once we got off the ferry. The last couple of hours in the van, in particular, took a lot longer then we had anticipated. The "roads" were not in good shape. "Pothole" doesn't even begin to describe the massive craters our driver gingerly edged around and through—particularly once the road changed from paved to dirt. It was at the end of the rainy season, and so my guess is that there's not a whole lot of road maintenance done during the rainy season. So these roads were probably at their worst, all year. Lucky us! The final 11km (just under 7 miles) took an hour. We were so ready to be done.

But really, the travel itself isn't what made us so nervous. We figured, one way or the other, we would reach our destination. We were concerned about how Eleanor would do, particularly in the confined space of the airplane. How would she handle not being able to run around and play?

She was amazing. She was a much better traveler than I am, all smiles and excitement. We ran her around the Cleveland airport as much as possible before boarding the first plane, but that was about the only time we could do that all day. For our layover in Houston, our second flight was already starting to board when we got off the first one so we went to the bathroom and straight back onto the plane. In San Jose, we literally walked out of the airport and straight over to the van. On the ferry she could move around some, since we got out of the van and sat on benches on an upper deck. But there was still plenty of trouble for her to get into, so we had to keep a close eye on her. For her, the close confinement of the car seat (as opposed to the airplane, where at least she's sitting in someone's lap) was the worst. But even then, she wasn't bad.

As soon as we boarded the airplane, I felt like all the passengers' eyes were on us, willing us NOT to sit near them, so they wouldn't have to endure a screaming baby. When we did find our seats, Eleanor's first order of business was to make friends with everyone around us. She smiled, she waved, she played peek-a-boo behind the seats. She did her very best to put everyone in a good mood, so that once she started screaming on the flight, they didn't get annoyed quite as fast.

But the screaming never started. She had a few fussy moments, but we either managed to distract her with a different book or two, or she passed out. And it was the same on the second flight. She also spent some time with Grandma and Grandpa, looking out their window and seeing all the toys and books they had brought to keep her entertained.

Both on the way there and on the way back, she traveled exceptionally well. She was born to travel! We were so proud and relieved.

After getting up at 3:30am to get to the airport, we finally rolled into our rented house around 7pm, I think. I did lose track of time a bit, especially once the sun went down. But no matter: we had been traveling for a long time and were very happy to be done. The worst is over with! We congratulated ourselves. Now we can enjoy our vacation!

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