Oh, my! Can it really be real that we are here? Everything seems surreal! I'm going to try to recap the last day or two, but the internet here is spotty and we have a meeting with the attorney in a few minutes so I'll be quick.
Tuesday around 2:30, Shawn and Andi drove with us up to New York. We stayed in a hotel for the night since our flight left early the next morning. We went to dinner at a nice Colombian Restaurant and then came back to the hotel to try to figure out Skype.
Around 5am we got to the airport with our NINE pieces (and a stroller and a guitar) of checked baggage and each person's carry-on backpack. Oh, boy. I'm SO glad Shawn and Andi came in and walked through the check-in lines with us. It would have been insane trying to carry all that luggage with Brent and I and the kids.
We found out right away that our flight was delayed until 9:20, but we didn't actually leave until after 10am. It was fine waiting and we passed time by getting breakfast and wandering around. Let me just say, that Avianca was a WONDERFUL plane. I haven't flown a ton, but this plane had a tv for each seat with the ability to play video games, watch movies (kid and adult), listen to music, see a map of exactly where we were, etc. It definitely kept the kids occupied and I am so thankful we decided to fly Avianca over Spirit Air like we'd originally considered. It will definitely be nice on the way home. We all got to sit together, also, which was one of my concerns since we couldn't choose our seats until we checked in at the airport.
Once we arrived in Bogota, that's where things got a bit crazy. We arrived in El Dorado airport where international flights came in. They also have another smaller domestic airport called Puente Aerero nearby with access by shuttle. As soon as we left the plane we raced down the hall (we only had an hour and a half layover) to get through immigration. Thankfully we were fairly near the front of the line, otherwise we would have been in trouble because the line was super long! The immigration officer was nice but kept shaking his head like we were crazy when we tried to explain we were adopting three more children! LOL! I was a little confused when he wouldn't stamp just my passport and transferred us to another attendent. I kept trying to find out if there was a problem, but he couldn't speak any English so we still have no idea what was going on. I finally got my stamp and we met a wonderful bilingual lady who helped us get to where we were supposed to go next. We handed in our forms we'd filled out on the plane (Declarations?) and were passed straight through. Next was the Avianca desk to check in. No problems and they sent us on the shuttle to Puente Aerero. That is where we made our mistake, albeit unknowingly!
I had asked a flight attendent about where we were going to go after we got off the plane since I couldn't read the boarding pass (Spanish!). He reassured me that since we were delayed that the Avianca ticket counter people would tell us. But as we passed through immigration he stopped us and in broken English said to go upstairs.
Once we got to Puente Aerero, we tried to find the right gate, but none of the numbers matched any of the flights. There weren't even any going to Medellin. We went from gate to gate asking the attendents and they kept sending us to different places. A few mentioned that we had missed our flight, but our tickets had been changed due to the delay, so we didn't understand what the problem was. Along the way several bilingual people stepped into the conversation to try to help which we were so thankful for! Colombian people are so super helpful and friendly! God sent one person at each gate to help us!
We raced around for about an hour, probably going to about 7 different places, and having to go through security twice! Thankfully it isn't as complicated as in the US. Finally, we ended up around the front of the airport at the main check in. The supervisor there explained that since our first flight was delayed, they were having the same passengers stay at the El Dorado airport for the connecting flight! That flight attendent I had asked earlier was the only person to give us the right information! We should have listened to him. Oh, well. How could we have known? Everyone else told us to go to PA!
So we were issued new boarding passes for another flight that left at 4:30. That flight ended up being delayed by an hour, too! She told us that our luggage had gone on the original flight in El Dorado. Uh oh! Well, at least it was in Medellin and not still Bogota! We had no way of getting in touch with Gloria so we were just praying that she would be still waiting!
We had an uneventful flight (30 mins) to Medellin and as soon as we came down the elevator we saw both Glorias (we have two guides both named Gloria) with a sign saying Trautman Family! Praise the Lord!
Two luggage porters found all our luggage all lined up along the side and helped us get loaded into the vehicles. We were so happy that everything worked out and we were really in Colombia.
Amigos, it is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful! The mountains are immense. It was dark driving back to the B&B Torre 42, but still we could see the landscape of the city. It's HUGE!
Both Glorias got us settled here at Torre42. The owners are very sweet. We are still going to look for an apartment since we are all crammed into one room.
Ok, I'm back! The electricity went out for about an hour so I couldn't finish posting this! Then we had our 2 1/2 hour meeting with Nora, Blanca and the two Glorias. They are all super sweet. The kids swam in the pool while we had the meeting in the courtyard area. Nora gave us all the information about the whole process. Thankfully, I knew most everything from reading other family's blogs or talking to our social worker in the US. She explained a lot of the chico's legal history that we had in translated documents, but hadn't fully understood before. That was the best part of all of it! They said the chicos are extremely excited and have been x'ing off the days on the calendar.
In about an hour and a half we are all going to look at an apartment to move to. It is occupied right now, and probably can't move in until the weekend or early next week. They have had a difficult time because apparently there is a law that says when renting to tourists every child under age 4 must have a bed. Good grief! We're praying this will work out, because it sounds perfect.
There is another family here at the b&b from Holland. They have 3 children whom they adopted 6 years ago and are now back for a visit. They are very sweet and speak very good English! They have been giving us pointers on what questions to ask ICBF tomorrow.
I haven't had time yet to upload any photos to the computer yet so I apologize for no photos! This day is flying by! My computer won't work at all on the internet here, but Brent's is doing ok. Brent is trying to upload photos to his facebook, so if you want to see anything you'll need to send a friend request to him. He is listed as Brent Trautman. If you can't find him, email me and I'll send the link to his page. firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have specific questions, let me know and I'll try to blog about it when I have time.