(I've changed the name from "Rants" given that I can't really rant about many things that frustrate me here, at least not without getting into some sort of trouble. As such, you'll have to wait for the book.)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Return

It’s been a while. Lots going on. Lots of travel since I last wrote. Airplanes. Automobiles. Trains. Trams. Buses. Chairlifts. Needless to say, we have been transported over the past month. Nice to limit myself to an automobile for a couple weeks.

Kid alert. 
I apologize in advance if you're not really into photos of kids. The text-only version of this is not available so you'll just have to deal with it. Besides, it's Christmas so lighten up.  If the adults in my family were cuter then this blog may have turned out differently.
hanging out in the Hague
So I’ll back up a bit. The Hague. We spent a night there while we were en route to the US. Good for all of us to get out of the airplane/airports for a few hours. We stayed with our friends there, Anne and Ian. We’ve had a chance to see them a few times since they left Burundi a couple years ago. Good to stay connected with them and have the kids play together.

Kiran and Dad
I skipped the part about us getting stuck in Nairobi and needing to spend the night but I figure people are tired of hearing about our travel mishaps. I’ll just say that it wasn’t pleasant and it’s even worse when this happens with kids. 
don't have much of this where we come from
From Amsterdam we headed west to Minneapolis. Though we were missing our bags (yet another mishap that I won’t discuss), we arrived intact and we had a quick stopover to see our friend Kathy and get reacquainted to sub-freezing temperatures.
Kinaya and Grandma
We then headed south to Louisville and were met by Priya’s family. We would spend the next week and a half with them hanging out, gearing up for Christmas and, of course, doing a bit of work on the side. It’s always a good, relaxing time. I suppose it’s a bit less relaxing with kids as well as Christmas shopping but generally it’s not too intense and we can sort of change gears from our lives in Burundi.
impressive indoor playground in Columbus
We’ve been increasingly been having the discussion as to whether or not we need to travel to the US less frequently. It’s clear that it’s becoming more expensive and cumbersome but it’s a tough call. While the girls are at these tender, young ages, it’s good to have family involved in their lives. It was precious to see them interacting with each member of the families and it’s hard to put a price tag on that. It’s also good for them to be acquainted with the US and all the differences that it entails. So we’ll see. Priya’s brother got engaged while we were there (congrats!) so we will certainly be returning in about 5 months for the wedding. 
Grandpa helping in the playground
the whole gang
  After an enjoyable time, the day after Christmas we saddled up the horses and headed west. Other than arriving at midnight (planned) the trip was relatively easy and we had our bags.
We began the Idaho leg of the trip by relaxing for a couple of days in Boise. Since we have a house now, we stopped by our storage and collected some gear for the cold (and my skis). The idea of keeping our things at our rented house seems to work well and takes some of the pressure off of my siblings to store and keep track of our crap. Living overseas is complicated for a number of reasons and knowing what is where is one of the most annoying. We’re getting better at it though. 

the sibs
From Boise we headed north to McCall. We would be there for three nights and that’s where my family would celebrate its Christmas. It was cold but not unbearably so. We took advantage of the snow to do some skiing and sledding. The time passed quickly, however, and soon we were heading south to stay with my parents for a couple nights. 
making cake pops - first time I'd heard of these things

as we usually do, we got a little carried away
This is also a nice time to relax. Though it was New Year’s Eve, we had zero intention of bringing in the new year awake. We did the American thing – watching football, eating and hanging out. On the 2nd we were back up to Boise to make the last minute preparations for our return to Africa. 
with Cheryl and Pat on Brundage

Curtis and Kiran flying down the hill
It turned out to be more last-minute than we anticipated. Priya and I both misremembered out flight and, while simply checking the weather and its impact on travel for what I thought was the following day, I was more than surprised to see that our plane was taking off in less than five hours. So we began scrambling to get ready, buying a suitcase, last-minute purchases, throwing things into bags, getting the kids ready, etc. Needless to say we pulled it off but it certainly wasn’t the way we intended to depart. 

Up to Amsterdam the travel went well. We were very fortunate to bypass (fly over the top of) a nasty storm in the eastern US. We again stopped in Holland to hang out and give us all a rest. It’s a bit more costly to do this but so far I think we’re in agreement that with the children the age that they are, it’s worth it. Moreover, this time rather than seeing friends we made our way to the zoo. Turned out to be lots of fun and well worth it.

at the zoo
Now, mid-January, we are back in Bujumbura. Routines have begun again. 2014 looks similar to 2013 so far with a few exceptions. Either way, there is a lot very diverse stuff going on. Hard to keep track of it all sometimes. Oh well. Robert Heinlein once said, "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
my girls exploring Amsterdam

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