See, I believe that God wants me to have plenty to blog about. I have to. Or else I might think that God has a cruel sense of humor and I definitely don't believe that. So with the attitude of "if nothing happens, you don't have a great story," I begin.
I start on the night before we leave. If you have read any posts before this one, you will know that I had a hectic month prior to my trip to Swaziland. I had four major obligations I had to fulfill ahead of time as they were due after I left. One of them being securing childcare for my children for the two and a half weeks we would be gone. This included finding six child-care providers, coordinating eleven drop-offs/pick-ups, creating/filling out four medical consent forms, making four copies of our insurance cards, pre-packing two suitcases for four children, which included washing every article of clothing in the house, spending a large, undisclosed sum at Costco on easy-to-prepare/Uncle-proof meals, typing up and distributing schedules, emergency numbers, school assignments and confirming all the above. I am a procrastinator. The fact that I actually completed this task is a miracle of God. The fact that I accomplished three other major obligations as well is on par with the mystery of the creation of the universe.
But back to my story. It is the night before. Dug and I pack light in general. But since we are going to an African summer, we don't need as many clothes and the clothes we do need have much less fabric. My parents have been traveling back and forth between Swaziland and Oregon for the last six years. We've accumulated quite a collection of suitcases of varying sizes. So Dug asks me to go check what we have in the garage. Happily I skip over our soggy, boggy lawn in the rain (The gray doesn't bother me, we're going to sunny climes and cloudless skies.) and open the door. What I see, or rather don't see, is a bit of a shock. Apparently my parents have been taking suitcases back with them. Because we don't have any left.
It is 11pm the night before we leave and, up until now, I have overlooked this crucial article. It's just not something you write on your "to pack" list. Of course we have suitcases, everyone has suitcases. I think when you are born, you have a suitcase and it just follows you the rest of your life. Where was mine?!
Now we don't actually take off until noon the next day, but Dug has a major catastrophe happen at work in which a lot of information was lost and things need to be rebuilt and he literally can't leave until it is fixed. Computers!!
Without spending a ton of money in a specialty shop or wasting our money buying a super cheap suitcase, we're a bit "screwed," as they say. Our city council, in order to preserve local business, is a bit stingy with building permits to stores that actually sell things at decent prices. It's too late to get something tonight and we're isolated enough that we can't get something until we're "on our way." I begin to search the house over and, lo and behold, I find a really, really large duffel bag that I have never seen before. I mean it. I have no idea where it came from and how it got into our house, but it is unmistakably there and looks almost brand new. Did I mention it was HUGE!? (The duffel below is just a stock picture, ours was waaay bigger than that.)
Dug's first thought is this: Let's just bring carry-on luggage! No need for suitcases at all. Then we don't have to deal with checking our luggage at the airport. When I lead him to our bed and show him how completely it is covered, not only with our clothes (which really isn't that much), but with all the items we are bringing to my parents that they can't get on that side of the world, he realizes that carry-on might not cut it. Our next thought is to pack the duffel, stop on the way to the airport and buy a new suitcase and then pack the suitcase with the duffel bag contents. See, the duffel bag has no wheels and it is going to be very heavy. And Dug, being Mr. Traveler, does not like this. I don't like it either, but what can you do?
So while Dug is working away, I decide to go to sleep and deal with it in the morning. I clear off the bed, lay down my head and can't go to sleep! But I am tenacious and for two hours lie there. Eventually I doze and bam! it's morning. Up I go, packing away. I can get by with very little sleep when I have anticipation, an upcoming trip and a little caffeine. I am on fire. I have a ton of stuff to get done, but I'm right on schedule, drop the kids off with the first sitter, and am ready to go. Dug isn't. But he actually finishes rather promptly. (That was another miracle. He got everything done that he needed to and we left just a tad bit late. If you know us and the nature of computers when you have a deadline, it was like we just witnessed the parting of the Red Sea.)
Since we were a teeny, weeny bit behind schedule, we decided to just live with the duffel. I know you're asking, "What's the big deal?! You check your luggage and don't have to carry it from airport to airport. Heck, you don't have to deal with it at all until it arrives at your destination!" Well, that's why we were okay with bringing the duffel. Not ideal, but do-able.
What we didn't know was that Johannesburg, South Africa, where we were landing and where my parents were picking us up, was five hours from where they live in Swaziland. And since they don't drive at night (I'll have to post about that, too) we were spending the night at a hotel. This is only relevant because in South Africa and Swaziland it is very unwise to leave anything that could be perceived as valuable in your car overnight. So poor Duggy had to drag that 50+ pound bag from the car to our fourth story hotel room and back again, and then drag it from the car up to our second-floor room in my parents' house. Not an unbearable ordeal, but definitely would have been easier if it was a wheeled-suitcase...
And that was the beginning of our journey...stay tuned for the next installment of "Dug and Tricia vs The World."