We have been gone the past couple of weeks on a trip to two countries in the Middle East - a mix of giving work-related lectures and attending meetings with some time for holiday thrown in the mix. Magpie handled the long plane rides and time change(s) well. She also ate like a champ, which made me a happy mama.
I was anxious about the long plane rides with my very active girl, especially so because I knew that Will and I had to get off of the plane and be ready to work the next day. Magpie, though, exceeded my expectations and did really well. I will write another post on what worked for us to make the plane rides and time change adaptations a success (two keys are that we broke a lot of our own rules to make things as easy, entertaining, and stimulating for her in the confined space as possible, and we tried to start the time change adjustment in advance of our trip).
Because we had a work component to some days on our trip, we had to use local babysitters for the times when both Will and I needed to be off-site at the same time. I was very nervous to leave Magpie with someone I hadn't put through my usual vetting process (typically for a new sitter, I check references, work from home the first day or two, observe via nanny cam, etc.). I was afraid that Magpie would be very anxious to be left with someone she didn't know and that she and I would find the entire situation rough. But again, she did fantastically. Both actual hotels we stayed in had a kid's play area with toys that I was able to take her to ahead of babysitting time and get her acclimated to. We purposely brought a few of her favorite books and stuffed animals along from home, which I think also helped. Those few times I had to use a sitter, I had them "get to know" her with me for twenty minutes or so (all I could do, typically) and then have them take her to the play area, which made me feel like there would be more oversight of her care and also more for her to do than being holed up in our hotel room(s).
On the vacation part of our trip, we went more off of the grid and spent time in a Bedouin camp in the desert, drove up into a mountain region, and also traveled to a coastal area. Will and I are pretty adventurous travelers and have been to numerous developing and developed countries together, but this was the most "off-the-beaten track" trip we've taken with Magpie in tow. Costa Rica is the only other trip that comes close (we took Magpie there when she was 3 months old), but as a country it seemed much more developed than some of the areas we were in on this trip. One of the big take home realizations for me this time was that my tolerance for risk has vastly changed now that Magpie is with us. I feel so keenly our responsibility to her to keep both her and ourselves safe. So I spent a lot more time white-knuckling various situations (e.g., driving in general, self-driving off-road into the desert, handling numerous non-childproofed stairs, ledges, cliffs, etc.) that I previously would have taken more in stride. Will, meanwhile, seemed unperturbed by everything, and we were therefore sometimes not on the same page about certain decisions, like his penchant for handing Magpie raw veggies to nibble when we were in places with substandard water and hygiene availability. I'll probably do an entire post on this in the future, but my elevated cautiousness was a notable change for someone who has been to Africa several times and enjoyed various other adventure-type trips.
As you'll see below in the pictures, Magpie was a hit with the locals. Her name is very similar to a Muslim name, which made her even more popular, and meant that people would ask for her by name constantly at our various destinations. So she was our little ambassador. Customs seemed to be different in the two countries we traveled in than in the U.S., in that strangers would continually walk up to us and start touching Magpie and often try to take her from me and hold her (see pics below). It was shocking at first, but I think over time she and I warmed up to it fairly well. Needless to say, no stranger has ever tried to take Magpie from my arms in NYC!
We are home as of this weekend and working to help Magpie adjust back to Eastern Standard Time from a 9 hour time change...It's a process...
It was a lovely and fascinating trip. And it is so, so nice to be home as well.
|Magpie at Bedouin encampment|
|Magpie with local girls in rural mountain region|
|Magpie called all the camels "Doggie!", and yes, this picture was taken while riding on a camel|
|Magpie pets a "doggie!"|
|Hanging out with a local man|
|Magpie sitting on steps; mama hoping she won't fall off of them|
|goods at one of several souks we visited|
|Magpie in the arms of another local man during the work portion of our trip|