I have done some pretty ridiculous things in my time abroad. Yesterday? Well, it may just have made it to the top of my list.
The background: My visa to stay in Poland, along with Kaleb's, expires soon. I won't go into all the details, but basically we had to leave the EU via Russia and come back to re-enter Poland.
The scenario: A member of the team management was to take all three of us (well, actually four!) along with one of John's teammates on a road trip to cross the border and re-enter. We were told it was only one and a half hours away, that we would probably just cross and maybe do a little shopping and then come back. In my mind, we would also more than likely get something to eat. I mean, how often does one get to try authentic Russian food?
How it played out: Kaleb (in his convertible car seat), John and his six foot nine figure, and I spent eight and a half hours crammed in the back seat of a euro sized car. After our first couple of hours of travel time we finally arrived at the border of Poland and Russia. I don't even know how many checkpoints we had to go through to get to the other side, I lost track after the first three. In fact, we had to go through to Polish checkpoints, just to get approval to leave the country.
By the time we got to the Russian checkpoints to officially enter Russia, Kaleb was already on the verge of a meltdown and also had a massive diaper explosion, (which conveniently ended up on me as well.) Thankfully, one of the Russian women was kind enough to escort me to a bathroom where I ended up having to use his changing pad on the floor. His face says it all here. Little did we know we still had HOURS of waiting in the car.
Checkpoint after checkpoint. Paperwork followed by more paperwork. Instructions in Russian that we couldn't really follow. Getting in and out of the car to show our faces to match to our passports. Putting Kaleb's coat on, then taking it off. Trying hard to keep a toddler occupied in a very tight space. Which, might I add, is nearly impossible. Eating what little we had packed, not realizing it'd be hours before we were able to eat again. The highlight of our trip? The hats the Russian border control were wearing. If you look closely at the man on the right here you can kind of see it. Me, the rule abider I am, was afraid to get in trouble for taking a photo, hence the bad shot.
The hats. Once again. At least I felt like I was in Russia, even if I was just sitting in the car at border control!
We finally passed through and entered Russian territory. Only to drive about one mile, turn around and get in a massive line of cars waiting to re-enter! Once we got to the point in the following photo we still had a couple of hours wait time. Instead of keeping their cars running, nearly everyone shut them off while they waited. I don't know how they kept from freezing to death. Some drivers in front of us were putting their cars in neutral to push their cars forward in line instead of starting their engines. The scene was a bit surreal to me. I felt like we in war times attempting to flee the country. And yes, I think we were the only crazy ones with a child.
We FINALLY made it through and were back in Poland. Seriously, I thought angels would appear in the sky. After about three minutes of protest Kaleb was fast asleep; bless his little heart for hanging in there. Of course, as soon as we stopped at the gas station for our gourmet dinner he woke up and had a hard time getting back to sleep. John was sleeping too. I on the other hand was just trying not to pay attention to the road, but was finding it increasingly difficult. Two lane roads here become three lane road when you want to pass. Meaning, you had better move to the shoulder so you don't end up in a head on collision! We were flying at high speeds and all I could do was pray for safety. By the time we got home, I don't think any of us had been more excited to see our beds. (Minus trips to and from the States!)
We woke up this morning feeling as though we just had one long bad dream, but our aching bodies reminded us it was reality. At least we can feel them! ;)