"Nala, you're going to have to walk across the street by yourself."
"I want chocolate!"
At this point I'm starting to worry that Mari's taken the elevator to the wrong floor.
But then he shows up in the distance, hauling all three of our 49lb checked bags.
The shuttle driver comes to help and I wrapped my arms around the deranged bundle of 2yr old and lugged her in the shuttle, looking back over my shoulder to make sure Kaio was safely following us across the road.
We'd rehearsed the check-in, security line, sitting in our seats, and baggage claim at home with crayon drawn pictures. Those parts of the trip went smoother than imaginable. Security check point had been a disaster in past trips, with Kaio breaking into a full force tantrum refusing to take off his shoes and let them pass through the x-ray machine. There I was trying to reassure him that the machine wouldn't 'eat' his shoes, looking to TSA for sympathy but getting nada.
This time around the kids were amazing and we worked like a well oiled family machine. All I had to do was hand them a couple boxes and they went forth placing their bags and shoes in while Mari and I took our laptops out and dealt with our things. They helped stack the boxes on the other side. Rehearsing at home paid off.
We finally made it to the hotel and bed by 1am, then were up at the airport again at 4:30am the next day.
Poor kids were so tired they laid on the floor by the check-in counter.
At the gate I busted out the new toys I'd bought for them the day before. The promise of a surprise toy and some juice gave Nala the momentum to walk herself to the gate. We didn't bother bringing strollers since the sidewalks are so cracked and distorted at our destination city everyone carries their babies. We considered just bringing one for the airport, but you know how I am about strollers right? I hate the extra baggage.
When we settled and camped out at 6am in front of the gate in Miami for the second leg of our three leg trip, Mari looked at me, "You're good to travel with."
Our strong start of a 'well oiled family machine' aged and corroded with every mile traversed. Each layover facing progressively worse challenges loaded on sleep deprivation and discomfort. It was a stress test and Mari and I could have been at each other's throats bickering, blaming and taking frustrations out. But overall we stayed cohesive and as upbeat as I think is possible considering the circumstances. In the breather moments, I looked at him more in love than ever feeling like I really understood the power of marriage and the meaning of our vows "...for better or for worse..." Here we were dedicated to face the world together, missions united, dreams intertwined.
When we finally arrived at our destination, the party started, literally. We arrived during the largest religious festival of the year, when the population of the city doubles. That's from 2 million people to 4 mil. Regional music players and dancers greeted us in the baggage claim. The Brazilians were singing and dancing while grabbing their bags of the turnstile. Passengers were walking over with their luggage and joining in the dancing instead of exiting the terminal.
The joy and energy wiped away the stress and exhaustion from the trip. I smiled so big and looked at Mari in a state of surreal delight. I couldn't imagine anything like this ever happening in the US and the moment encapsulated the enchanting attitude of his family's culture.
So now we're in the city. Mari's family's house in Brazil has been completely blissful.
I'm hoping the next posts on wonderful Brazil will help persuade more of my friends to come down with us next time.