Yay – we finally have travel dates from Chiquitines.
They have offered us a choice of our first meeting on the 12th or 19th of April. Of course we chose the earlier date!
The 12th is the Thursday after Easter, which is later than we were hoping for, but I always thought we would be pushing things to be ready to travel before then anyway – especially with the long weekend getting in the way.
The news has lifted a great burden from us – we instantly feel more calm and relaxed now that we know when we will be meeting our daughter.
The first thing to do is decide on an itinerary. My spreadsheet detailing all potential flight options was actually based around a Monday or Tuesday meeting (like we did last time with Andres) and didn’t actually go past Easter, so I essentially had to start from scratch with a new spreadsheet. At least I can now work backwards to look at when we can reasonably arrive in Cali and be settled in time for our first meeting.
It’s actually a little tricky getting the flight options we want – finding an available flight from Sydney to Santiago might be difficult. LAN don’t fly every day and while Qantas’s new direct flights fill in the gaps in LAN’s schedule, they seem to be very popular given that they only started flying this route yesterday (and the direct flight is far more convenient than the LAN flights via Auckland!).
LAN also don’t fly from Santiago to Bogota every day, so syncing up between the SYD-SCL and then the SCL-BOG routes is a little tricky. We don’t want to spend any more than one night in Santiago: although we do love the city – we’ve been here before and would rather spend time in Bogota or Cali.
Arriving in Cali on Tuesday or Wednesday would actually see us waiting in Santiago or Bogota for more than one night – and we wanted to spend a bit of time in Cali settling in to the hotel and getting a bit of a routine going for Andres before we add Nicol to the mix.
So, I looked at options arriving in Cali as early as Friday (Good Friday), through to Monday. Turns out that leaving on a Saturday would work well – you arrive in Santiago the same day you leave Sydney (courtesy of crossing the date line), and then there is a direct flight to Bogota on Sunday. There are a few options for flights to Cali on Sunday or Monday too.
The next trick was scheduling the return leg. I hadn’t bothered looking at flight options earlier, since the actual dates we would return are largely dependent on when we arrive. It’s a bit more complicated on the return as well – we need to allow at least 2 business days in Bogota to collect the Sentencia (formal approval of the adoption from the Colombian government), and then a further business day in Santiago to collect the visa for Nicol to enter Australia. Then syncing those requirements with flight timetables from Bogota to Santiago and then Santiago to Sydney, doesn’t actually give us a lot of choice, unless we want to spend a lot of extra time waiting in either Bogota or Santiago.
Like we did with our trip for Andres, we’ve allowed a total of 6 weeks between when we leave Sydney and when we return, which should hopefully give us enough time to travel there (and back), get the court process finished, give us enough time to collect the required documents in Bogota and Santiago, and still hopefully give us enough time for a side-trip while we are in Colombia. We figure that if we are going to spend all that money getting to Colombia – we might as well try and see a bit more of it while we are there.
So I spent today mapping out all of our flight options for the trip and then highlighting the preferred itinerary for discussion with Leanne when she got home from work. I’ll then send it all (along with some alternatives in case of no availability on our preferred options) to our travel agent to book for us.
It is starting to get very exciting now!