We are back in France after a short trip to Brussels for the European Parliament film screening. We flew on low cost EasyJet, which is Tall Mountain’s new least favorite airline, when traveling with a kid. Infants traveling on laps cost EUR 30 (almost the price of a full fare) and are given no extra baggage allowance. You are allowed only ONE tiny carry-on of 55cm x 40cm x 20cm (21.6″ x 15.7″ x 7.8″) for each full fare. ONE – That includes handbags, diaper bags, you name it. It’s just a little bit stingy, ya know? So, we gave up the diaper bag, our standard American carry-on case and any carrying bags. We had to bring a suit bag so we crammed our clothes, diapers, gifts, shoes, baby food and toiletries into the second bag. It was only possible because we were able to use so much of my close friend Caro’s baby gear upon arrival. As a result, we were able to travel the lightest ever. I ‘wore’ Ayo in a Moby, hoping they wouldn’t consider the sling was an extra carry-on or something. Oh brother.
Ayo’s flight #9 was both his shortest and our hardest. He fussed for about 50 minutes of the 60 minute flight and fell asleep about exactly at touchdown. I noticed someone in the row opposite who I worked with during my advertising days, but I was too occupied managing Ayo to be able to even make eye contact. Besides, I noticed she had inserted her earplugs. After offering Ayo her own golden bracelet, an empty water bottle and a game of hide-and-seek, the grandma next to us told us “wow, he’s a handful!”. By the time he finally conked out on the breast, she was nodding approvingly: c’est bien, c’est bien. He was thankfully back to his bubbly self by the time we made it to our sweet welcoming committee at the arrivals. Phew.
Caro’s girls continued to entertain him the whole time we were there. It turned out to be good practice for their newest sibling, due this January. It’s been really fun to watch Ayo ‘play with’ older children, now that he can sit. He happily sucks on a toy while they think they have a playmate facing them. Anyway, Caro’s kids generously shared their toys, fed him his lunch or asked if “maybe Ayo wants to throw bread at the ducks too?” Super cute.
Even though we weren’t in Belgium for long, I loved that we could see one of my closest friends – even if it was for the shortest amount of time. It’s pretty cool that the film is taking us to see my dearest friends. Ayo’s flight #10 was his best yet and dead opposite to the previous one. I ‘wore’ him in the wrap right through security. I’m not sure you can do that at an airport in the US, but thought I’d give it a go at Zaventem. Sure enough, no one was even batting an eye. We gave Ayo his breakfast at the airport News Café, while watching Obama give his acceptance speech live on a Belgian channel. That shows you how early our flight was. Caro’s girls must have worn Ayo out perfectly, because I got to hold my snoring snuggle-bundle for 50 minutes of the 60 minute flight. A very rare thing.
When we got back, TM and I went on a celebratory run in these fields (pic 1), with this view at the end of the path (pic 2) as mamie and papi gladly watched our little guy. We of course made sure to fill my water bottle up at the Eau qui rit (the “laughing water”) spring that trickles down from the Vouan mountain range. It is said to have healing properties. Of course, they always say that. Anyway, people come from near and far to fill their empty containers up there, so the least I could do is to refill my water bottle there.
Now, as we head back to the States tomorrow, I am left with at least this one painful question: Will I always live so far away from half of the friends, family, places and things I love?