I have totally abandoned my dream of being one of those chic, well-dressed travelers who always seems to have non-shiny skin and wheels her Burberry suitcase around as if it were weightless. These travelers do exist and I'm always jealous of them as I lug my belongings around Charles de Gaulle Airport, getting my hair tangled up in my purse straps. In all fairness, another of my travel dreams was to be flying home with my husband and baby to show off to the folks back home. Travelling with a nearly one-year-old is totally incompatible with the perfectly-pressed traveler dream.
We survived the nine plus hour flight with our little darling, who at times is harder to keep still than a Tasmanian devil. I would like to personally apologize to any parents I may have encountered in the past and about whom I silently muttered, geez, their baby is NOT happy. I think I've always realized it must be hard to keep a young child quiet on flights, but it takes having your own to really understand the challenge. She was actually better behaved than I'd imagined, and slept a few times spread out in our laps. But there were a few cranky moments where we just couldn't calm her down. We linked all her toys to the seat belts since she's really into throwing her toys down.
And with our luck we were flying the last commercial jet not to have installed the personal in-flight entertainment systems. I honestly can't remember the last flight I took where I had to look at the screen attached to the cabin ceiling and couldn't pause the film to take a restroom break. Plus, we'd been counting on the cartoons to distract baby. Fortunately we were next to some other kids who entertained Juliette. An American woman who's married to a Moroccan man was travelling with her three little girls. The three-year-old chatted often to me in French and English, and her easy-going mom would look over and tell me I didn't have to listen.
And now we're settling into our cherished Alabama environment. We are still dealing with a little jetlag. But it's not quite as bad as on previous trips since we flew into Atlanta, thus cutting off the massive layovers we usually deal with when taking connecting flights. Baby has already had a nice introduction to her Alabama roots: fresh watermelon juice, real Alabama peach ice cream and lovely summer yellow squash in her baby food mix. I'm enjoying all those little things I'd forgotten, like the sound of crickets and cicadas, free drink refills and soft towels. Yes, I forgot the wonders of having a dryer. More on my American experience later...