Thursday, September 22, 2011

HEADING HOME: PART ONE

Debbie wanted to be home by Aug 24 to prepare for Evelyn’s baptism on Aug 28. Initially, we planned to tell PC of our plans to ET on Aug 22, but we didn’t feel comfortable cutting it so close. In stages, the date was pushed back to the 15th, a Monday; then realizing that the 72 hour countdown was more effective over a weekend, she decided to make her call on Friday, Aug 12. Not knowing when the clock would begin ticking, she called late afternoon on Thursday, hoping to fly out on Monday.

Our driver promptly picked us up at 10 Friday morning, whisked us to Mbabane where we were given a fistful of paperwork to be completed, we saw our PCMO for a while and were taken to a dentist’s office for a complete checkup and then overnighted at a backpacker. We were able to complete an interview and do our homework and finalize banking (ridiculous red tape—Swazi style) over the weekend and even took the time to visit Swazi friends (Tim and Gloria) in their home. Monday, we ran the checklist including exit interviews and returning materials, then tripped over the only glitch in the process: Gary had to be driven all the way back to Siteki (in the rain) to close the account with the electric company (getting a signature) and return to Mbabane. Otherwise, everything was efficiently organized; the 72 hour countdown seems designed to accommodate the deposit of three poops.

Monday, we learned that Libby would be replacing us at the School for the Deaf and enjoyed a pleasant evening visiting with her.

Tuesday, we were driven to the airport with the load of baggage we brought fourteen months ago, gifts for America replacing items left in Swaziland for various reasons. While waiting in the lounge area, we observed the royal jet and surrounding area being secured and prepared for the presence of his royal highness. But after a circuit of the red carpet, he boarded his jet without even acknowledging us.

The flight to Jo-burg is 50 minutes; we had about five hours layover to eat, shop, exchange funds (only after securing a boarding pass) and go through security three times (and a fourth for me—penalty for looking shifty); the flight to Atlanta was fifteen hours, thirty-five minutes, but not too bad because we had bulkhead seats. We got to Atlanta at sunup and spent our first US$ at a Dunkin’Donut. After almost four hours on the ground (including customs), we flew five hours across the continent through cloudless skies to SeaTac where we were greeted by three of our kids and our newest granddaughter. It has been a whirlwind of activity ever since.

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