This is the long overdue story of our journey and arrival in Brazil. Literally our journey - why we're here, etc. etc. is a story for another post. We knew we would be living in Brazil somewhere between two to ten (or forever) years, so we brought as much as we could. We read a lot of expat blogs, searched Brazilian stores online, and tried to figure out what were the most important things for us to bring and what we could buy once we landed.
Since clothes in the United States are of better quality and can be purchased much cheaper, I purchased clothes for the kids for the next three to four years. We also brought tools, Maicon's small tv and Wii, a Kitchenmaid Mixer, my Mac, some of Farley's tools, Alessandra's stroller, three car seats, and other assorted items. We also brought a guitar for one of Farley's friends, to give to his friend's father. This resulted in us traveling with 7 large suitcases, one medium suitcase, three carseats, a stroller, a guitar, a diaper bag, a breast pump, and two carry ons. I was terrified of trying to get everything through the airport with a 4 year old and 9 month old. Actually terrified doesn't begin to describe the fear and anxiety I felt. What if they wouldn't let something through? What if we held everyone up and people started to get pissed? What if one of the kids had a meltdown? What if we arrived and customs wanted to charge us taxes on all of our belongings? How would we logistically even accomplish all of this?
Thankfully my adoptive father, Tony, drove us to the airport with all of our stuff in the back of his truck. And thankfully, when we pulled up the the curb of the airport, there was a guy waiting with a large cart. We piled everything on the cart and walked 20 steps inside to the counter. (Thank you Newark Airport for being so convenient!) I forgot to say that we re-packed and weighed and measured our luggage about forty times each because American Airlines allows a 70lb weight allowance on flights to Brazil. And you'd better believe every one of our bags was 69.9999lbs. Even still, I was scared that they would tell us the bags were oversized. Then we would have to decide if we wanted to pay $100s in extra baggage charges or to leave something behind. (Remember, our entire life was in those 8 bags). Everything went through okay and we proceeded to TSA with a stroller (we gate checked it so it didn't lost and we also had about a four hour wait before our plane departed, so we thought it would be useful), Alessandra in the Moby wrap, the breast pump, a cooler of breastmilk, two carryons, a guitar, and a diaper bag.
Here began the next terrifying phase. Shoes off everyone! Laptops and iPads and phones out of the bags and in individual containers! Stroller folded up and pushed through the scanner! Breastmilk pulled to the side and tested! They made me throw out the icepack because by that point it had melted. It had to be frozen solid to be brought on the plane. (More TSA logic - because it's not going to melt on an 8 hour flight??) I unloaded everything into about 11 of those tubs that get pushed through the scanner (I wish I was exaggerating). Then I walked through the scanner with Alessandra and they swiped our hands (as they always do when you carry a child through). Okay everyone - shoes back on, everything back in the bags, re-open the stroller, carry on. Honestly, we had been in the airport for less than an hour and I was exhausted, but very grateful that everything so far had gone without a hitch.
We continued on to our gate and got some extremely expensive, terrible tasting food from the Ruby Tuesday's there, and waited. I pumped while Farley occupied the kids' attention. I occupied the kids' attention while Farley ate. We charged and recharged our tablets and phones. We realized we didn't have enough wipes so we purchased 10 wipes for $5. GROAN. These were our last few moments in the States for we didn't know how long and we spent them in a crappy airport gate, nerves shot. Actually, we had a short one hour layover in Miami, so it wasn't really our last moment in the U.S.
Once in Miami, we got everything off the plane (save for our checked bags), raced to the next gate, and waited with a group of mainly Brazilians for our 12am takeoff. We joked that this was our last chance to turn back. The kids were pretty tired, but generally well behaved (a miracle in our family). We boarded the plane and found our places among the three rows of seats. The fight was delayed shortly and we took off an hour late. I didn't sleep on the plane. I was too nervous/excited, plus Alessandra fussed most of the way. It wasn't very dark and Tomorrowland was playing. I put on some headphones and watched it on and off while tending to Alessandra and Maicon. I can't remember if they served dinner, but they did serve breakfast and a snack. Thank God, because we were starving at that point. The food was pretty good for airplane quality. My back was killing me by the time we landed because I had Maicon to the left of me, Alessandra in my lap, and Farley was across the aisle. The seats were typical airline size, which is to say not very large. Despite my aching back, everything had gone well so far.
I'll detail the rest of our journey in the next post - stay tuned!