We had planned the logistics of this trip down to every detail, or so I’d thought. The kids had what they needed to be comfortable and entertained for the 30 hour journey. We had favorite snacks and books and tablets. Everything was going surprisingly well those first 26 hours. I even remember thinking, as our trans-Pacific flight was down to the last few hours, how this particular leg of the trip, that I’d so dreaded, had actually gone much better than I’d dared hope. Once off the plane, the kids acted up while we stood in the–very long!–customs line, then the very long bag drop line, but if that was the worst of it, we were ok.
Then we get to the transfer desk in Sydney, and it all falls apart. How could this happen? We had just one short flight to go! We were a couple hours from arriving, unpacking, showering, and celebrating a trans-global journey with young kids completed. We had school interviews to complete and school supplies to buy for the kids the very next day. We were not supposed to get stuck in Sydney!
And then I heard that last line again. First world problems much? Had we not just safely traveled over 9000 miles, mostly over ocean? Was I actually complaining? About unexpectedly finding ourselves in one of the world’s most beautiful cities for a day? Was I really going to spend it fuming about airlines’ complete sadism (although Virgin Australia is pretty un-Australian-ly unhelpful)? No, we would move on. If only because those kids of ours had been such troopers this incredibly long journey, and I, as the grown-up, was not going to be the one to pout for the rest of the day that we were jet lagged, still in our travel clothes and carrying our bags. And trying to keep the kids, who were by this point too delirious to do otherwise, from running off. No, we were going to unload at the hotel, explore a little of Sydney, and start that unwinding and celebrating now.
And so we did. We chatted with a taxi driver who had immigrated from China 26 years earlier. We sampled Thai food Aussie-style, and Emile had the best mango and sticky rice dessert he’s ever had. (Actually, it was more like sticky rice with a hint of mango. The mango slices mostly disappeared. Maddie’s juicy little fingers and declaration of, ” I wub mango!” might offer a clue.) We saw a man on stilts wearing a fruit covered skirt and hula hooping. Samantha found him fascinating, being an avid hula hooper herself, then upon closer inspection, “creepy” (she didn’t like that his face was painted). I had coconut water out of a coconut. And, of course, we let the kids let loose in the hotel room to enjoy those carefully chosen toys and watch their first Australian kids’ programming while we allowed ourselves to relax.
We started to absorb the vibe of this nation where we’ll be spending the next 12 months of our lives. I think we’re going to love it.