Things have been busy since I have been home. I spent ten days recovering from my flight home, then took off again to North Carolina to visit my sweet nieces, Sarah and Anna! You may remember how my good friend, Stephanie, adopted them from Bulgaria - Anna from Burgas and Sarah from Pleven. I got to go on the referral trip with her in June 2013 and saw them last December in Bulgaria on the pickup trip (I was traveling with another friend) and a few days later when they got home.
They are doing so well! Anna speaks English fluently now and is attending school. She loves to follow her mama (and me) around the house ALL DAY LONG and ask questions. (Usually the same ones over and over again.)
Sarah is talking up a storm, as well. She came home only saying four or five words, and now she sometimes even speaks in whole sentences! She can name and point to her body parts, and she knows her colors. She has been struggling to gain weight, so she had a feeding tube put in this past summer. She loves to watch her shows on TV. Sometimes, when she wants you to leave her alone for a while, she says, "Watch! Bye bye!"
She hates the doctor, which is understandable but unfortunate, because she has to visit there a lot. We went to a doctor's appointment and she sobbed the whole way, "Go home! Get lellow!" She knows if she is wearing her pajamas (the "lellow" ones are her favorite) she gets to stay home all day!
While Sarah is Miss Independent and fond of her alone time (no wonder, due to her sad history of neglect and abandonment...) Miss Anna is my snuggler. And so sweet! I told her I would be leaving on Monday, and she asked me all weekend: "On Monday I go to school? And you go home?
"Yes, I'm going home."
"But you come back next week, right?"
"No, I'm going to leave for a long time. I'm going to Ohio and then to Africa. But I'm going to miss you sooooo much. So I am sad."
"Ok, go ahead and cry, it's ok."
"No, I'm not sad yet, it's fine."
"Go ahead and cry, it's ok. You're sad."
I assured her I'd call her on Skype and it would make me very happy. When we dropped her off at school on Monday morning, she told me, "I'll call you when it's time to get on the computer!"
She also drew me a picture so I could "hang it on the wall in the Africa." You better believe I will!
I left Monday morning, then attempted to ride the Greyhound bus from Raleigh to Charlotte. Notice I said "attempted." Paul (Sarah and Anna's dad) dropped me off at the bus station after we took the kids to school, in ample time to catch my 9:50 bus. I waited and waited. 9:50 came and went, and I got to observe Raleigh bus station culture. It was an educational experience, for sure. Various people looked like they were on some sort of drug, or could be. I heard more foul language than I have all year. One Hispanic guy walked around talking to us in Spanish. I pitied him (I remembered trying to navigate the trolley in Bulgaria, without speaking the language) but even though we kindly told him we didn't understand him, he kept coming back and talking to us, getting more and more frustrated until he finally said something with "tonto" in it and I hoped he wasn't calling us stupid. Come to think of it, maybe he was referring to the three-hour delay we were sitting through...The bus station attendant tried to kick him out, even though he seemed to have a ticket. I managed to find another Hispanic guy who spoke marginally more English, but all I could get out of them was "Him say him sorry." Sorry for what? I have no idea...
And it WAS a three hour delay. At least. I think it might have been three and a half. They told us our bus had broken down and had no idea when a new one would be here. They were most unhelpful and not very polite, although they did give us coupons for free lunches, which was the only bright spot in the whole morning. Somehow I found myself buddying up with an ex-convict...well, maybe buddying up is too strong of a word. Complaining together? He did convince his friend to let me use his phone because...OH...I forgot to tell you...my computer power jack broke AND my phone stopped working, all in the same weekend, so I had no means of communication to tell my aunt and uncle (who were picking me up in Charlotte) that my bus was going to be at LEAST three hours late. In my defense, I didn't find out about the jail time till later, when we were on the bus and this other guy kept annoying him. He was sitting across from me, "I can't do this. I can't punch him. I don't want to go back to jail..."
I saw four blind people (two with guide dogs) and pitied them that they had to use this system. I'm sure if Stephanie has anything to do with it, her girls will never see the inside of a bus!
I had one layover in Winston-Salem, and I was supposed to catch the 1:10 bus. As you can imagine, I missed it - I got there at 3:20. The next bus didn't leave for Charlotte until 6:20. I wouldn't arrive in Charlotte until probably after 8, and it was an hour to my aunt and uncle's. Did I mention that DRIVING between Raleigh and Charlotte takes 2 1/2 hours? This bus station proved to be just as unique of an experience as the last one, complete with foul-mouth screaming match and some rather inappropriate behavior. I found a nice, bewildered lady who generously let me use the last bit of power on her phone to call my aunt and uncle, who said they would come pick me up. Then I tried to help her devise a plan to charge her phone to call HER friend, who at least was already on the way. There were no accessible power outlets and a sign warning that it was against the rules to try to charge your electronics in the building. She kept trying to plug it in behind the vending machine, but some bus station passenger kept yelling at her that she wasn't allowed to do that. I felt partly responsibly for her difficulty, after all, she DID let me use her phone and run down the charge more than it already had...oh well.
Finally, my aunt and uncle arrived to pick me up. I will never, and I repeat NEVER, be taking Greyhound again unless it is an absolute necessity. I am grateful for two things: all the people who so kindly let me use their phones, and that I didn't die, so in the end, it could have been worse! Never have I ever been so glad to be back in a familiar place, with familiar faces! Next time I am taking the train - I hear it's about the same price!