June 26, 2016 at 11:00am: After a jam-packed morning full of packing, re-packing, weighing bags, and attempting to keep our excitement at an appropriate level, 9 of the 11 travelers piled into the 10-man Van (along with 36 suitcases) and departed Janet’s house. Annetta, Brett, Bryan, Fran, Genevieve, Janet, Jeremy, Katrina, and Olga bid farewell to friends and family (including travelers Danna and Debra who would depart the next day) and settled in for the 2 hour drive to LAX.
By the time we hit Carpinteria, we had already broken out the songbooks and were in full Rwanda-road trip mode. Jeremy led the group in the never-ending verses to American Pie while Brett strummed away on the Ukulele. Fran was armed and ready with his camera, capturing all the best moments. The rest of the ride was filled with lots of selfies, some much needed napping, good conversation, groovy music, and, of course, Fran taking every opportunity he could to tie Janet’s shoe laces to luggage handles while she slept.
Soon enough we arrived at LAX and stepped out of the van and into the exhilarating chaos of the International Terminal. We checked in, and were finally rid of our 19 giant bags. After some last minute weight distribution of carry-ons, we made our way through security and on to Gate 130 we went!
Finally, it was time to board and we soon found ourselves seated and ready to take off.
Nine hours later, we arrived safely in Amsterdam for our overnight layover! The shuttle for the Courtyard Marriott at Amsterdam Airport scooped us up and brought us to our hotel.
We settled in, freshened up, and divided into two adventure groups. Annetta, Brett, Bryan, Fran, Katrina, and Olga headed to the heart of Amsterdam for some exploration while Janet, Jeremy, and Genevieve took a 40-minute train to Alkmaar to visit Janet’s dear friend, Vie.
Both groups had a marvelous time, and returned to the hotel at dusk (aka 11:15pm) to get some much needed rest.
The next morning was brewing with excitement and restlessness – only 12 more hours until Rwanda!
Back to the airport, we go!
The deja vu descended upon us as we found ourselves back in an airport, waiting to board. Debra and Danna joined us at the gate, and by 10:00am, we were seated, buckled, and ready for take off… again!
Eight hours later, we arrived in “Remarkable Rwanda” at 7:10pm. Customs was a breeze and 30 minutes later, we were in the arms of our wonderful Justin, creating most likely the largest love fest the Kigali airport has ever seen.
We are all safe, healthy, and beyond thankful to be here.
Wednesday June 29th will be our first day in the field, visiting the Cokawi, Abadacogora, and Murindi Cooperatives.
More posts and photos to come!
TURABAKUNDA – We love you!