Thursday, June 29, 2006

Chapter 3: First Encounters -- In which our travellers reach their destination, which is (as they knew it would be) only the start of a longer trip...

[J]

The tribulations of our tript from Chicago to Danang are already fading into the dim past. We made it to Ho Chi Minh City on Thursday night where a hotel room awaited us, thanks to Ann Tours, only to discover that our luggage would not be joining us. When American Airlines put us on the new flight to Tokyo, we were assured that an order would be placed to move our luggage from the cursed plan to LA. And when we checked in for the flight to Tokyo, we were assured that the order had been placed to move the baggage. But the baggage was not moved... and so it is winging its way to Hong Kong and may join us here in Danang in a day or two. (And I should note that both the AA booking agent on the phone Tuesday night/Wednesday morning and the check-in agent at the counter on Wednesday morning were wonderful, nice, helpful people.)

Anyway, we got the HCMC hotel at about 12:30am, and we slept until 4:30am, since we needed to catch a cab back to the HCMC airport at 5am. It was awfully nice to fly business class from HCMC to Danang, though... even if the flight was only an hour.

Sleep log thus far: get to O'Hare airport at about 6:30pm Tuesday; slept from 3am to 7:30am Wednesday morning; flew to Tokyo, dozing a bit; flew to HCMC, dozing a bit; slept from 1am to 4:30am Friday morning. Now here it is Friday at noon, and we're dragging a bit. (Of course, since we crossed the international date line, we lost a day in there, so we were not actually up for the full 41 hours +/- that it appears.)

Now the important stuff....
We were met in Danang by our Holt representative, who is very kind and helpful, and he took us to the Child Welfare Center where we spent the morning with Minh (as everyone calls him)! It was very exciting, and a bit overwhelming. Minh has a cold and wasn't feeling great, and when we first got there, he seemed to be having a little tantrum. We first talked to the woman who is the director of the Child Welfare Center, with our Holt representative as translator. Then, after a little while, one of the caregivers brought Minh in, and he sat on the couch next to us. He was eating a little cake in a foil wrapper, and he concentrated very hard on it, ignoring us. He even gave us terrible squinty looks (like McDuff gives the baby in the Rosemary Wells book) every now and then. But E. got out the toy cars and the M&Ms and a sticker book, and slowly Minh became interested in us, and began to play and smile. Then, after he got a bit more comfortable, he started to get a little rambunctious... throwing the cars and even trying to hit us both once or twice (when we attempted to discourage his rowdiness). As he did, though, he had a sort of sly smile on his face, as if he was testing us. We anticipate more such power struggles. But he is a smart little boy, and he quickly figured out which way the wind was blowing.

(As evidence of general smartness, we were taking pictures with the digital camera and then showing them to Minh, and he seemed to like that. In fact, he later picked up the camera and quickly figured out how to make the pictures change. He enjoyed holding down the arrow so that the pictures would cycle quickly through... until the batteries died.)

He had a bag of his own candy with him, and we gave him M&Ms, and then it was time for his lunch. They brought in a bowl of rice, cabbage, and fish soup, so that we could feed him. That went fine, until he threw up! A combination of too much candy and his cold (or whatever), I think. Anyway, we got him cleaned up (he was pretty tidy about the whole vomiting process, much like our oldest, and easily motion sick, daughter was at that age), and then he snuggled on our laps for a little. Then it was time for his nap, and we went back to the hotel.

All in all, a good start! But clearly just a start. We have a lot to learn about Minh, and he has a lot to learn about us. And the whole thing is, as I said, fairly overwhelming.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yay! First meeting going well. Minus the sickness and vomit. But still, well enough.

You knew he was a smart boy already. And the sly smile. Hee.

I hope you guys get some rest. And that your lugage shows up. Because you two are probably like giant people in Vietnam and it might be hard to find clothes.

=) hannah

Anonymous said...

Hi J and E and M
What an exciting adventure you have recounted, and 21 more days to go! You are amazing and wonderful people and Minh is an exceedingly fortunate boy. I am praying for you across the miles and across the date line.
Joy to all of you, Alison

Christina said...

Thanks so much for taking the time to post. Your first meeting sounds like it really well - all things considered! Hope you have a restful weekend now. :-)

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