I have thought about this day for years, and especially so this last one! I've wondered what it would feel like and to be honest, now that it's here, I don't think I'm going to have that answer on the first day, week, month, year? On one hand, there is so much excitement and anticipation because this dream/goal of starting the process of moving to Nepal has been on my radar for maybe 6 years now. On the other hand, it also feels natural and like home. If it's anything like Thailand was, I know that reality takes a while to sink in! But hey. It's day #1 and it's time for an update! So here we are!
Since I am in quarantine for the next several days, you had to know a blog was coming. Haha. So bear with me while I reflect on the last few days!
First, I want to start with Asheville, my hometown. Friday was spent mostly saying goodbye to my mom, my dad and stepmom, and my brothers (and of course Molly and Liam!). So many emotions to work through! Honestly, I think because things got canceled as often as they did, none of us really expected this to be goodbye. Yet, it was. And how special it was to me that everyone came to see me for one last time on Saturday morning before I left! I cherish my family.
Saturday morning, after a final packing frenzy and saying goodbyes, my dad and stepmom drove me 2.5 hours to the Charlotte Airport. After getting all of the luggage squared away, getting documents checked, and finishing the last of some teary goodbyes for a while, I was finally on my way!
Some of you have asked about my flights, and particularly because we are in a pandemic and everyone is on watch to know how things are being handled by different businesses, I felt I should note that my first flight (from Charlotte to Chicago) was through American Airlines. Honestly, I expected it to be full, but I did not expect it to be packed like it was! I was sat next to two complete strangers in the same row. No social distancing. And the only rule that seemed to be enforced was mask-wearing. I mean, I had to pass a negative COVID test because I was flying internationally, but that was not the case for everyone on my flight. So if you are concerned about sharing an armrest for a few hours with someone who has not been tested, be forewarned! (I will say that the Delta flight next to mine was impressive. They were well organized and boarded people 5 rows at a time, starting with the back and moving towards the front. Seems like that makes sense under any circumstance, but especially during COVID!) That was really the worst part of my experience, so that's not much to complain about given 36+ hours of travel!
Anyway, after arriving in Chicago and going through security for a second time, I found my next gate and was pleasantly surprised with Qatar Airways. They called me to the desk (which scared me because I just kept waiting for someone to say I had done something incorrectly and send me back home....which actually happened to the guy next to me, unfortunately! I'm sure he would appreciate your prayers if you think about it.), and after looking over all of my documents, they gave me the all-clear! Oh, also their mobile app kept me updated with everything...like even when my bags were on board below!
Qatar Airways took the virus seriously and had everyone spaced out throughout the plane. Their stewardesses wore masks, gloves, goggles, and disposable lab coats to help give extra assurance. They also gave everyone a face shield to wear in addition to their masks and issued everyone care packages with things both for comfort and for sanitization. For 13 hours of public transportation with a bunch of strangers, this made me feel as safe as possible during a flight! I sat next to this sweet little old woman from Lebanon and we had some hilarious interactions. I felt like she was my adopted grandma for the flight!
Upon arriving in Doha, Qatar, I was alerted by the Qatar app that my next flight was already boarding. I was nervous, but I looked out the window and saw that my gate was not too far from where we were off-boarding. Once I got off the plane, there was a stewardess waiting for me and the 3 others on my flight who were also headed to Kathmandu. She escorted us to the front of a security line and waited with us to all be cleared before walking us to the gate and ensuring we all made it on board. Once again, I was alerted that my bags were put on the plane, which was such a relief to know during such a quick, fast-paced layover!
My final flight was from Doha, Qatar to Kathmandu, Nepal and was about 4 hours long. This flight had even more space and I had an entire row to myself, which meant the sleep I got on the last flight was even better than the long flight!
And then finally, just before 1am on a Monday morning, the wheels touched down in Kathmandu. Unloading was quick and easy. I was a bit nervous as it appeared I was the only American on the flight (though I could be wrong). This is still the first week of tourists being allowed in and only with a certain visa, so I was anxious to get through immigration. But of course, I had nothing to be anxious about! The airport was very organized and processed me within 15 minutes. By the time I got downstairs to baggage claim, all 3 of my massive luggage pieces were ready and waiting for me! A kind gentleman helped me transport all of my luggage outside to meet my friends who were waiting.
They, being the kind people that they are (willing to pick me and a bunch of luggage up at 1am!) took me to my hotel for quarantine, which was such a blessing because I neglected to inform my hotel that I would be arriving so late, which meant everything was locked up. So they called the hotel and got someone to come and let us in and made sure everything was squared away before leaving.
I've now been in the hotel for about 12 hours. They have been so sweet to me! They have called to check in on me a few times and came to my room at 3am to help me figure out the heater/air conditioning unit. And because I am in quarantine and not allowed to leave my room, they bring me all of my meals and just treat me so kindly!
You may or may not have read my post about Murphy's Law. If you have, you will understand that I am not used to things actually going according to (or even better) than planned! Don't get me wrong, I am thankful for hard moments that allow me to feel Jesus near to me. But I am also really enjoying this special time of celebration with Him too! So grateful to be here and looking forward to learning and loving the people of this country more and more.
(Not a lot of sight-seeing to be had yet, so enjoy these real-world photos of the glamour of travel! Haha)