The last few days were quite busy with preparations, but we were pretty much on schedule and woke up on Tuesday morning with a list of things to do that could only be done at the last minute. I decided to go ahead and go to the gym even though my stomach was hurting. I chalked it up to nerves since my stomach likes to be involved in all of my major decisions and worries, but was alarmed to find when I returned home that three other family members weren't feeling well either. Not good. But we pushed through and were able to leave the house in sparkly, pristine condition for Charles' friend who will be staying there and keeping the cat company (he has a name, I will refer to him as Kyle hereafterandforever). We rented a 12 passenger van to accommodate the abundance of people and baggages -- Ella's lovely friend Rachel was staying with us for two weeks and was flying out a few hours after us -- and enjoyed an uneventful ride to the airport. Matthew dropped us all off and we checked in while he returned the van. Then we were able to stand in an interminable line for security! Okay, it ended, but not soon enough. Yada yada yada, we've all been in airports so I'll move on. The plane departed at 9:00 PM and they were serving dinner at 11 so I decided to try to keep the boys awake until then so they wouldn't be hungry later. We flew on Turkish Airlines and it was so nice! I must admit that I was a bit worried, but those fears were completely unfounded. There were screens at each seat with a variety of things to listen to, play, or watch.
They gave the boys little goodie backpacks and everyone else was given a set of supplies as well. And the food was good! And the employees were pleasant. They even served us Turkish Delight!
We were finally able to settle in around 1:00 AM and fitfully sleep for a few hours. Breakfast was served around 5:00 and arrival at 7:00 AM -- 3:00 PM local time. We then had four hours in which to enjoy the Istanbul airport! I found some ramps and moving sidewalks for the boys and everyone else seemed to be napping at one time or another.
The flight to Madrid left at 7:20 PM and took four hours. The boys finally fell asleep toward the end so it was hard to get them up and moving to get through immigration and fetch our bags. We caught a shuttle to our hotel and were able to sleep a good 4 1/2 hours before going back to the airport to get some breakfast and catch a bus south.
The stomach bug that I had been trying to ignore caught up with us again and Charles was throwing up in the morning, I felt totally bus sick, and now Phin has been vomiting for hours today. But back to the bus. It was long -- over seven hours, with only one 15 minute stop and no toilet on the bus. I cannot believe that we made it, but we did. Archie kept telling me that he really just wanted to get off. Yep, me, too, buddy. Along the way, the bus would stop at large bus terminals, but when we arrived in San Javier we were let off on a literal street corner.
Ella, Ibby, and I stayed with the bags while everyone else scouted out some food. They found some Kebabs! Our favorite! And a playground to boot, so we made our way over there -- very loudly, I might add, as our suitcases rumbled through the cobbled streets. We're basically just a spectacle wherever we go. Throughout the whole trip the words, "Because we are too many" kept going through my mind, haha! No murders were committed, but sanity was questioned periodically.
We ate our first dinner in Spain, on the street, whilst Lucy and Matthew caught a taxi to get our rental car. We were probably there for about 2 1/2 hours, but it was a nice little square with a play area, a church, and an amazing nativity scene.
Phin got right down to business making some friends, which was really cute. I guess he doesn't talk much anyway, so what is a little language barrier, right?
Matthew and Lulu returned, we had our first encounter backing down a very narrow European street in a van, we got very lost, but eventually found our way to our new house where we were meeting our landlady at 7:00 PM. The GPS said we were there, the house looked exactly like the one in the picture from the rental website, the view across the street was exactly the one we had seen on google maps, but the gate was locked and no way to get in. We walked around a bit and I found a side gate. We went to the door and could see an old lady inside knitting and watching TV. She didn't move when we rang the bell so we rang a few more times and she finally got up and told us to go away. Matthew kept asking her if we were at the right address, but all she would say was that it was nighttime and that we should get off of her property! I returned to the car with the sinking feeling that we had been totally scammed and that we had come all this way with nowhere to stay! I decided we should look for a hotel and regroup, but Matthew started wandering down the street and soon came back with a smile and a new friend -- our landlord. There was an identical house two blocks away -- welcoming, inviting, clean, well-lit, full of beds to lay in, closets in which to put our necessities, bathrooms for bathing, cupboards for food... and even a dishwasher. All of our dreams had come true. The couple was very nice and showed us around the house and neighborhood. Archie immediately began telling me that he wanted to go home. Hey, we are home! After they left, Matthew and I ran to get some groceries (well, we walked and then very haltingly came home, putting the very heavy bags down every few feet) while the larger children put the smaller ones to bed -- they are very worthwhile at times. We came home and had a snack and tried to settle ourselves down by 11:00 since we had been going for 50+ hours at that point, but it was only 4:00 PM Illinois time, so it wasn't easy. The kids keep telling me to stop talking about what time it is at home, but I think it's okay for one day. It's topical.
We've spent the day getting unpacked, trying not to sleep, taking care of a very sick boy, and buying more supplies -- this time with the van. We have already produced copious amounts of laundry and the latest crisis has involved the house's lovely blue rug that was vomited upon and belatedly learning the Spanish word for bleach. It's lejia, by the way.