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Antwerp, Belgium
Welcome to the new, and improved version of Heaven in Belgium. I am Jientje. "Jientje", like the boys name Gene, followed by "chu"? "Gene-chu", that's how you pronounce my name. Yes!!!!That's it!! So now you know huh? I am an addicted blogger. I was born and raised and am still living in Belgium. Yeah, the "this-is- Tuesday-so-this-must-be-Brussels" kind of Belgium .. There, you see? Maybe you couldn't find it on the map, but at least I'm trying to change that a little by sharing lots of pictures. I really love to cook and create new things, like this blog for instance. I am a mother, not a grandmother,I don't know if I'll ever be, but I'll let you know in due time! Oh and um ... I am a wife too! They say I'm a traveler, and a photographer. Well that's just what they say, I love to make pictures, but I am far from professional ... If my English is not perfect, that would be because it's my second language. I do hope you'll forgive me any possible misspellings or strange vocabulary ... Now, as a result of all of the above, I get way too little sleep and my days are always much too short!

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Heaven is in Belgium

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Living the Dream, Day One: Airport Stories

 

Where do I start if I want to tell the story of my adventurous trip to the States?
I suppose I should start at the very beginning and tell about my meeting up with Korie - my first English speaking blogger friend who dragged me into Nablopomo three years ago - who by sheer coincidence ( if there is such a thing? ) happened to be on the same flight I was on.

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We met at the airport, at Starbucks. Nothing unfamiliar about meeting a blogger you’ve know for years, I already knew that. So our conversation just came natural, as if we had known each other for years. No greater place for coffee than Starbucks either it seems if you ask Americans, and I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised, the coffee was good.

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After coffee we headed for check-in.  We sent our suitcases on their way and I kissed my teary-eyed hubby goodbye, and off we went.  
To be quite honest, it was kind of a relief to have someone with me to guide me through the airport procedures for the first time. By the end of the trip it would have become more of a routine to get all my stuff out in different baskets fast enough to not cause a traffic jam at customs. Laptop, jewelry, camera, jacket, Ziplock bags with small quantities of liquids … Umm …  yes, a lipstick is a liquid too. Not to forget the shoes! Balancing on one leg to get your shoes off was usually last minute hurry hurry procedure. By the time I made it to LA, (two airports later) I was relaxed enough to even make jokes with the guys, but at this stage … this procedure still involved a huge amount of stress! 

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The flight itself was rather uneventful. Later on I would learn that every flight was different, the airports are, the people you meet, the passenger next to you, the crew…
I could probably write a column about some flights, but this one was rather boring.

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So I tried to pass time as good as I could sipping Starbucks with a movie and a book…
After a smooth landing, a successful luggage claim, getting all my fingerprints taken and smiling at the camera at immigration, I was more than ready to meet a familiar face. I stepped through the ultimate door - where I knew Melli would meet me - with mixed feelings of gratitude and pride. I had made it on my own, I had made it  SO FAR. Little did I know another adventure was just about to start!
I looked at all the faces and all the people hanging out in this area of the airport, but there was no Melli. No sign with “ Jientje” on it, no Ella getting herself into trouble again, and no Mom. Just another sea of strange people and strange faces.  Ummmm yes, NO cell phone to help me either. Mine did not work there and I still needed to purchase one I could use on American bases, so needless to say I DID feel a little bit disconnected.  I walked up and down the hall a few times hoping that I’d hear my name or see someone wave at me, anything … I cannot begin to describe how little and how humble this huge airport made me feel. I did not want to wander off too far just in case, but I did need to find SOMEBODY who could help me.

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SOMEbody with “authority”  was my first thought. Being directed to the next exit by a Hispanic airport person in uniform, I KNEW instantly this was not the place where I was supposed to be.
”Somebody with a cell phone” was the next thought that crossed my mind. I asked some friendly looking guy, but unfortunately it was not the time or the place. By then I was indeed outside in the pick up zone, and the guys ride arrived before he could even call the number, so that was no good either. I decided to give it another try and go back to the arrivals zone. After all, miracles do happen every once in a while and I sure as hell needed one! Still no Melli. Another walk down the isle in desperate search for SOMEone. Although I AM proud of myself, I never panicked. HONEST. I didn’t.

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There she was … my angel for the day. 

She looked as if she belonged there.
Even better, she looked as if she had some kind of authority.
She had a CELL PHONE!!!  Well … of course she had a cell phone, EVERY body had a cell phone except ME!!
I explained her what had happened and she walked me back to the arrivals zone, took her cell phone and got Melli on the phone for me.

Poor Melli had been held up in traffic and parked her car way out somewhere … far!
Poor Melli had to drag poor (Alzheimer) Mom behind her, so their pace was as fast as it gets in situations like these. I think Melli’s stress level was WAY worse than mine, I felt for her then and I still do. 
I think this was probably one of the most stressy marathons she’s had to do in her life and the sound of her cell phone ringing must have been music to her ears too.  

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This was the “all’s well that ends well” moment captured by my camera, and it looks like the guy behind Melli kind of sensed what was going on too!
Look at that smile on Melli’s face, she’s something, she really is.
This was the beginning of many adventures we would have together, and many roads we’d travel in the upcoming days. She welcomed me into her heart and into her home with a warmth beyond compare. She even let me sleep in her own bedroom and introduced me to the whole family. I had a WONDERFUL time there.

THANK YOU Melli!

Some pictures and some glimpses you’ve already seen, and I’ll be more than happy to share more in days to come.
Sorry it took me so long, but this trip has been a roller coaster ride meeting all kinds of different people sharing the best of their worlds with me. It does take a while to be able to put it in words and in pictures. Stay tuned. There will be more.

26 comments:

kaye said...

this is a good place to start and I'm on board for the journey. I'm glad you and Melli found each other and thank heaven for angels :)

Wanda said...

I always stay tuned to your blog, Jientje!

LceeL said...

It's a good thing you two found each other - there is no feeling in the world like being at a strange airport and no one to help.

quilly said...

Now you get to relive it all and try to put all names to all the new places and things. Fun!

Willow said...

Yes, it does take time to internalize everything that happens in a whirlwind trip. I think half the fun is when I return home, settle down and REMEMBER through photos and words on my blog. Looking forward to sharing your adventures.

Joyce said...

Happy to be reading and seeing photos of your adventure here in the states.
Joyce

Jewel said...

Wow, how fun!! Your first airport experience. I'm looking forward to hearing the rest!

moneythoughts said...

You sure got off to an interesting start. Love the way you tell your story, and like the rest, interested in hearing more about your adventures.

Maribeth said...

Those are great shots!

Collette said...

It's not fun being alone at a big airport, but you got through it very well. The pictures are very good.
I came over to your blog after seeing Lou's pics & hearing about your visit on his blog. I'm glad I did!

Paz said...

I enjoyed your airport story. Glad you found an angel to help out. ;-)

Paz

Betty said...

"Putting it into words", that is the hard part! I can´t wait to read more of your adventures!

Christine said...

I sure wish I could have met up with you. Maybe I will come to Belgium. I am excited to hear the rest of your adventure!

Neas Nuttiness said...

I can't wait to hear and see more!

ROSIDAH said...

I know how scary and adventurous these airports can be. You did a wonderful job capturing these moments! Have a great week :)

Terri said...

I love the black and white photos at the beginning -- then to color, sort of like the Wizard of Oz! You've arrived in Munchkinland!

Great to see the whole story developing. I look forward to lots more photos and stories.

The cottage has recovered just fine! LOL!

Wendy said...

We are all anxious to see how you saw the USA through your camera's eye. It is hard to be patient but we are going to be in for a treat, I am sure. You take such interesting pictures.

Loree said...

We will wait for the rest of your story. I am sure it will be very interesting.

Mar said...

Beautiful start of your adventure! I mean the whole post, not the inconveniences! it will be fun to follow you :)

frogpondsrock said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading that jientje, Keep the stories coming my friend, I am really interested in hearing about your trip. xox Can you send me your address again jientje I have lost the email *sigh* xox Kim

Maggie's Mind said...

This is my favorite post. I love the way you tell the story and the way you illustrate it with perfect photographs, too. How intimidating to show up somewhere so far away and not be in contact with those you are to meet. Again, the picture captures the moment. So very glad it worked out. :) Also, how neat that you got to meet Kori, too! Very cool.

Ida from South Africa said...

You're brave to travel alone! Can't wait to read the rest of your adventures!!

lisaschaos said...

I'm so thankful for your angel of the day! Poor Melli must have been going crazy trying to get there too!

Linda Higgins said...

It is so fun to see this side of the world through someone elses eyes! You are doing a great job. I actually makes me appreciate how blessed we are to live here! Fun photos! I loved your B&W photos of the airport! smiles across the miles...

Melli said...

All that beautiful color has now faded away.... but you have it captured for always.

Jacki said...

I never really think about it because I am used to Dulles Airport, but I am sure it can be quite intimidating for someone coming to the US for the first time. It is a huge airport!

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