One final early start this morning – up, finish packing, get the kids ready, take them down stairs for breakfast, back to the room and finish getting ready to leave.
We had a driver picking us up from the airport at 9:30am, so we had to get our bags downstairs and checked out of the hotel in time.
As it turned out, the driver was waiting for us, so while he packed the bags in the car and Leanne got the kids settled, I checked out.
We made it to the airport in good time, I managed to find a couple of baggage carts, and so we were able to get to the checkin counter with minimal fuss.
Given that Qantas have only been flying out of Santiago for less than 2 months now, they still didn’t seem to be that confident about their checkin procedures and each person took a long time to get processed.
Finally, we managed to get ourselves checked in and confirmed that we had been assigned a bassinet seat and were sitting together.
We stopped to buy some milk for Andres to drink before heading through immigration and security and out to the departure lounges.
We headed straight for the playground area we found last time and grabbed some hot chocolates and muffins from the nearby Starbucks to keep us going for a couple of hours – we were quite early for the flight still.
Andres ran wild with the other kids on the play equipment (some of them spoke English this time!), while Nicol crawled around picking up every little bit of fluff and rubbish she could find on the floor. She’s like a little vacuum cleaner sometimes!
A woman sitting near us had some shiny bangles on her arm, which Nicol seemed to take a liking to and crawled over to investigate. The girl handed them to Nicol, who proceeded to swap between banging them together and sucking on them. At least that kept her entertained for a while.
I went for a walk to find some supplies for the trip and used up the last of our Chilean pesos. I also stopped to buy some Subway for lunch.
Eventually, we saw that the flight was about to start boarding, so we hustled the kids over to the departure gate and waited for the staff to finish getting ready for people to board.
Once again, we managed to be first on the plane – actually quite important when travelling with two young kids, since it took us a while to get them settled and our bags organised.
The only complaint I had was that someone had decided to implement a final bag security check in the air-bridge just before boarding the plane. This was after going through airport security and everything else, and since it was actually on the way onboard the plane and not done during the period while we waited for the boarding to commence, it just served to slow boarding down immensely and it took ages to complete boarding.
They tried to take issue with all of the water we had with us (only allowed 100ml bottles they insisted), while the procedure in all other airports around the world is that you go through airport security without any liquids and then you can buy whatever you need in air-side before you board. They seemed like they were about to deny us taking any of our water on board, but I started to make a fuss about having two young children and needing to feed Nicol bottles on the flight, so they relented with a warning that next time we need to heed the restrictions.
Everywhere else in the world seems to be relaxing these restrictions right now, so I don’t know why Santiago airport suddenly needed to go all hyper-security now, especially on a flight to Australia of all places.
So we managed to get on board with our supplies and settled in for the long wait for departure. Fortunately, Qantas’s new inflight entertainment system is operational from the moment you get on board, so we were able to set Andres up watching episodes of Dora and Diego while waiting for departure.
The 1:30pm departure time, followed by 6pm arrival into Australia was not that ideal, since we would actually be chasing the sun the whole way and not experience a proper “night” time. Indeed, the sun didn’t actually set until we were almost in Australia.
It didn’t seem to make that much issue though, since the cabin crew insisted that everyone close the shades soon after they fed us dinner and they dimmed the lights to simulate what they do at night time.
We had three of the four seats across the middle of the 747, but the guy on the far aisle was travelling with his parents who had a spare seat next to them, so he ended up going and sitting with them rather than dealing with our kids (smart move!). This gave us more space to stretch out and allowed us to set up a bassinet for Nicol without cramping our own seating space too much.
There was a galley immediately in front of us, so at one point I tried to duck through there to get around to Leanne’s side so I could get something out of her bags for her. Unfortunately, I came up right behind one of the crew who spun around (a little too fast!) and spilled hot chocolate all over my top. Fortunately, it was only warm and not scalding hot, so it didn’t hurt at all, but I was worried that it might stain my top – which was a new ExOfficio top I’d had shipped over from the US before we left home.
I headed to the bathroom to rinse the top off – I intended to test the quick-dry on the shirt by rinsing it thoroughly, wringing it out as much as possible, and then soaking up any remaining moisture using paper towel. Before I could finish, the guy who spilled the drink on me tracked me down in the bathroom, knocked and told me he had a new top for me to wear – it was a long sleeved Qantas top. So, rather than put on the still slightly-damp top, I wore the not-quite-big-enough Qantas top and hung my top over the back of a spare seat to finish drying.
I think it was less than an hour later when I checked to find that the top was pretty much dry, so I changed back into my ExOfficio top. Not long after that, I happened to come across the same crew member again and he noticed I had my top back on again. He was surprised it was dry already and I explained that I spent a lot of money on tops which could do exactly that – dry quickly! I told him that with two kids, if it wasn’t him who spilled something on me, it probably would have been one of them – so I kind of expected something like this to happen at some point. It was nice to have some validation that the purchase had been a good one!
Eventually we managed to get Nicol to sleep in her bassinet – Andres was easier on our flight home last time, with an almost midnight departure, he slept pretty much the entire flight from Santiago to Auckland – although he was awake for the Auckland to Sydney leg.
Andres finally got tired and I offered to let him snuggle with me on my lap. He was asleep fairly quickly, and after a while I was able to put him down on a seat, padded with pillows.
I didn’t really sleep that much, nor did I get to watch any of the dozens of movies that I had picked out that were worth watching. I seemed to spend the entire flight either taking Andres to change his pullups, taking Nicol to change her nappy, going to the toilet myself, feeding one of the kids, refilling water bottles, or doing something else to keep everyone happy on the flight! It was hard work, but we managed the flight without any major issues.
Finally, after an exhausting 15+ hour flight, we arrived in Sydney to a damp, cold evening. We managed to get off the plane and to immigration without too many issue, but after a toilet break found ourselves near the end of the long queues through immigration. I was carrying Andres on my shoulders, and given he was still very tired, he was in one of his usual “ask a million questions” moods.
They must train the immigration officers to not be jovial or friendly, the girl who processed us seemed nice enough and after discovering our kids were from Colombia, she actually revealed she was born in Bogota – but did so in a pleasant enough voice without seeming to smile at all. Not sure how they do that.
Baggage claim was nice and quick, then we joined the queue to pass through customs. We had a bit of food with us, plus some wooden musical instruments that we thought best to declare. They did seem eager to get us processed and out of there as quickly as possible – my guess is they could sense very tired children and would rather avoid having to deal with meltdowns! They ushered us to a vacant processing table and after a quick look at the stuff we had brought with us, they waved us on without any further fuss. We didn’t complain – we were all tired and keen to get home.
Fortunately there was no queue at the taxi rank, so they found us an access cab station wagon with a baby seat for Nicol and enough room for our bags and we were on our way fairly quickly.
When we got home, it didn’t take much effort to get the kids into bed, and we weren’t all that far behind them.
I will note that we were all up at around 4:30am the next morning, so we decided to just get up and start our day then, rather than fight the jetlag. Either way, it was great to be home after a very enjoyable (if tiring and difficult) trip to Colombia.
Travelling with a 3 year old and a 9 month old is really really hard work. But we still came home with a lot of very happy memories and will treasure our time away.