As Ramadan wound down to its last days and moments, we found ourselves packing and preparing for a cross-continental journey. Our long-awaited summer vacation had finally arrived on the heels of Ramadan. Waiting for the crescent sighting, we hoped to celebrate Eid the day before we traveled, but alas, our travel day was the first day of Eid.
Our summerly habit is to spend the night before travel with our adopted Omani family in Muscat, where we eat, rest, and our host drives us to the airport, leaving behind our car in their safekeeping. Keeping with our tradition, our host delivered us safely to the airport at around 3:30 AM where we checked-in, prayed and boarded our hour-long flight to Abu Dhabi. For the first time, Lil’ Z had her very own seat on the plane. It was such a relief to have more space for her to stretch her long legs but even better was having a meal to herself, because the girl can eat!
The vastness of Abu Dhabi International Airport necessitates a little transportation assistance for the small folks. There are strollers available for use, so our sleep-deprived little girl enjoyed her very first stroller ride (at two and a half) for the half-hour hustle to the departure gate.
After a three-hour wait at the gate, we boarded the 14-hour flight to New York. Lil’ Z finally collapsed to sleep, unable to wait for the first meal and enjoyed a two-hour nap. With only seemingly a gazillion hours left, we filled the time with reading, watching National Geographic documentaries, eating, and giving Lil’ Z her Eid gift at the seven-hour mark.
After coloring, watching silent cartoons, and eating more food, we all slept the last few hours of the flight, emerging to face the gritty city of New York.
We were welcomed with an hour-long detention by Homeland Security, with endearing questions about our family, our life in Oman, and the nature of our travels in the past year. After retrieving our bags and declaring our dates to the customs officers, we were well on our way to a truly warm reception by my mom and a dear friend.
Since our return, we’ve been trying to rest in semi-normal sleep patterns, making contact with family and friends, and enjoying really good food- callaloo and patties, avocado and plantains, and abundant helpings of cultured non-dairy yogurt. We’re grateful for the safe arrival and looking forward to more delicious family time and family meals in the weeks to come.