Two days before we were set South Africa, the temperature in Cape Town hit the biggest that it has been in the last 100 years. It had been a bit windy and cloudy in the weeks before, so it was sad that things were really heating up as we were about to leave. Nevertheless, we had enjoyed our outdoor adventures and it was time to make our way back to home. It is not often that we refer to China as home, but lately it really does feel like home. In fact, we use the term “home” for three places at the moment – Cape Town, Texas, and Qingdao. It can get confusing, so we have to elaborate most of the the time. Sometimes we simply say, “I feel homesick” and that just means that we miss something from one/ both of our hometowns. It was really tough to leave Cape Town this time. We presume that it was because we now have Elijah, and so many people grew so fond of him.
It was with a heavy heart that I started the packing. Eli didn’t make it any easier when he kept taking things out of the suitcases. It was like he was saying, “Why are these things going in there… Aren’t we staying here with Ouppie?” Look at this face… Cuteness overload! He arrived in Cape Town with no teeth, and now look at that smile.
As my family knows, it’s always me that starts the waterworks, and they always start when we are at the departure gates saying our final goodbyes. This time was so different though, neither of my brothers were there, and again, we had Elijah with us. As we drove to the airport, I looked around, thinking about just how many times my parents have had to take me to the airport and bid me farewell. It’s been hard in the past, but it never felt as bad as it did on this particular day. I started crying before we had even reached the airport. All I could say was, “Sorry, the waterworks have started early this time!” Not much was said by anyone on the drive to the airport.
|Chicken, bacon and avocado salad|
Our tradition is to check in at the airport, and then go sit at a restaurant called Spur, and have coffee and lunch together. My sweet friend, Tarrin, came all the way to the airport to say one final goodbye. Justin, Elijah and I checked in, while my parents met Tarrin at Spur. Walking towards the table and seeing them sitting there together, again, made a lump in my throat. I love my friend so much. We have been through thick and thin… It was so good to have her there too!
There was no doubt about it, I had to have one more Chicken, Bacon and Avocado Salad before leaving. When boarding time approached, we all went downstairs for the final goodbye. Of course, the tears flowed until well after we had boarded the plane and taken our seats. I used my last remaining airtime to send voice messages to my friends.
|Goodbye Beautiful South Africa|
On our first of two Emirates flights, from Cape Town to Dubai, we managed to get a seat in the front row of economy. Thank you Elijah – he always gets us bumped up, given good seats, or allows us to cut queues – what a handy little guy he is! We were not alone in this row, but we did get a bassinet and Elijah was able to sleep in that for a bit. It makes a huge difference when baby doesn’t have to stay on your lap for the entire journey. The annoying part of using a bassinet is that every time the seatbelt sign comes on, you have to take the baby out of it and strap him back to you. As a newborn he might have slept through that, but at 8 months we didn’t stand a chance. So even when he did fall asleep, he was always woken up by us moving him from the bassinet. In the end, it was easier to just let him sleep on our laps.
The second flight was better because we were given three seats. This allowed us more room to spread out and have Elijah sit between us. Emirates is great – they gave us a little backpack with goodies in it for little man. Most of it was meant for an older child, but he still liked it anyway.
|Waiting to take off in Dubai|
Elijah didn’t sleep much along the way so thankfully there were two of us on this journey back. He was also 6 weeks older on the journey back, so obviously that makes a huge difference. Despite the fact that he mastered crawling while in South Africa, he never tried to get off our laps and crawl around in the plane. He did want to stand on our laps and play with the people behind us. As long as we heard giggling, we knew that he wasn’t bothering anyone. Overall, it didn’t go too bad and we were happy to get back to China.
The air hostesses on our Emirates flight from Dubai to Shanghai really took a liking to Elijah. One of them took him upstairs to the First Class area (in the Airbus 380 the first class is located on the upper deck) and they took a polaroid picture of him in front of what seems to be a bar area. They gave him two handfuls of Godiva chocolates and then brought him back to Justin, who was waiting downstairs. Our little man – he gets to go cooler places than we do!
We had to wait a couple of hours in Shanghai, so we found our gate and hung out there.
|Three of a kind!|
Three flights later, and we were back in Qingdao waiting at the baggage carousal for our bags. Immediately, it was clear that we were back in China. This is the place where rules were made to be broken. You see that yellow line (picture below) that you are meant to stand behind while you wait for your baggage? Well, in China the people stand so close to the conveyer belt that they might as while get onto the thing and walk along it to find their bags. Oh yes, we were back!
We are thankful for a relatively pleasant journey from Cape Town back to Qingdao. When we climbed into the taxi which would take us back to our apartment, we breathed a sigh of relief. It was cold and we were tired, but we were excited to get back to our home.
Cape Town, we will miss you!