We made it. This move has been one of the smoothest ever in our military experience. It’s really incredible; either our perspective has changed or things are simply sunny this go around.
On our final day in Korea we woke around 0430, got into our travel clothes, woke the kids, and we all dragged our bags a block over to the Osan lodging to catch the base shuttle bus to Incheon. My friend Sarah showed up as we were loading up the bags, and it hit me then that this was for good. Not coming back. It was a tearful goodbye, but happy. I think it all hit Avi at that time as well, because he started crying and saying we were moving. He sat with me on the bus and we waved at Sarah….which made him feel a lot better. The have really gotten to love hanging out with her.
As the bus pulled out of the base we saw another friend as well! Steve was on his way into base to do a shift at the animal shelter. Avi recognized the car and we frantically waved. Steve saw us and waved back! It was a great send off. We even waved at our house on the way past and saw the new tenant out in the backyard with his dog…. life had already continued without us in Korea.
The bus ride was fast, I snoozed, both kids slept, and we had hours at the airport to spare. Baggage check was easy and we were glad to get ride of all 6! We each had a rolly suitcase, plus a duffle with camping stuff, and one with the kids’ car seats. Way more than we are used too. Flying Korean airlines had it’s perks at Incheon, and we were given a special pass for the express security screening – a separate security line just for people with kids or special needs. Breezed through there and customs, then we wandered into the terminal and found the Korean Tourism Office where they offer traditional crafts to make for free. We spent a long time working hard at creating a pretty laquerware mother of pearl mirror. We then went upstairs to the rest and relax area where the kids played a while in the playland before we all got hungry and had lunch in the cafeteria. The three hours went quickly, and before we knew it we were boarding our flight; first again, as we had kids, and for once we took advantage of that because we had more carryons than usual.
We had two window seats; Bryan and Avi sat behind me and Zoe, but no one was in the third seat beside us, so we each got a row of three and spread out. It made for a really comfy and enjoyable 13 hour flight. Every seat has its own TV, too, with games and movies and radio. I got hooked on a caveman puzzle game and spent hours getting to the next to last stage. Didn’t watch a single movie: just a show about bug eating plants. Zoe watched a few movies, but also got hooked on a tetris-style game that occupied her time. Avi watched a ton of movies back there, too. We all napped and ate the two dinners that came: loved my last spicy octopus bibimbop. The seats were comfy, the flight attendants nice, and we had real silverware. It was snazzy. It was also nice to complete the flight and not need to take another one!
Madrid was instantly hot. Our plane taxiied around the airport forever. Zoe felt uck because the landing was bumpy, and I was obsessed with trying to complete caveman game. It felt like we were trying to find a parking space at the Osan BX. Ended up parking at Terminal 1, and let me just say the Madrid airport is in no way vying for awards like Seouls’ airport. It was basic, had stairs instead of escalators and the customs agents were pretty casual. In fact, they seemed to care less about our military status; we weren’t sure which passport we should stamp (offical or tourist) and he kind of just laughed and said it mattered not to him, what do we want? No computers, no picture, no finger scan like in Asia. we laughed, too, when an agent saw us in line off the Korea flight and started speaking to us in Spanish like we were in the wrong (foreigner) line. We said we spoke English and he laughed too. I think he thought we were Spanish. No more standing out in the crowd as foreigners, here! Baggage took a bit to arrive, but all showed up just fine and loaded onto two carts. We had to get directions from the info counter to the other terminal. Bryan rode the bus over, while the kids and I waited for him out at the curb. It ended up being pretty far away! No matter. We were in Spain.
The new unit had sponsored us as a little group, it seems, and one guy in particular helped a ton with our transit. He and his family left from Madrid on vacation a few days prior and left there car for us. Bryan found it just fine and came around to load me and the kids….who were getting cranky. We spun up the GPS in the car and hit ‘home’. We are also staying at the guys house! Watching his doggy and watering the plants. It’s incredible, convenient, and such a nice way to be welcomed into the little family of US people stationed at this detachment.
The drive was gorgeous with arid landscape, big topography, miles of visibility, and wheat and sunflower fields stretching all around. At the house we were exhausted and quickly unloaded, found some beds, and crashed out. Some other members of our new unit had the table loaded with food for us and a lasagna in the fridge! What a welcome!
Our first few days have been productive. Got Spanish ID numbers, signed our lease at the new house, walked by Zoe’s new school, walked into downtown for tourist and trail maps, shopped at some gigantic stores, and took siesta every day. This is going to be an amazing assignment. There are incredible grocery stores; bigger and better stocked than we have experienced at our last 3 assignments (Korea, Georgia, Korea), there are big jardin centers with lots of plants to create an oasis in our new backyard, and there is a Home Depot style enormous home store that makes this place feel like we moved to the states, save for the Spanish. There are also incredible parks and bike trails and history. I’m excited to explore more.
Yesterday, the detachment had a little get together to farewell a guy and welcome us. It was wonderful to meet everyone (except the family whose house we are using =) and have the kids play. They have made fast friends with the other kiddos and super enjoyed having a little doggy to watch. They have loved walking to all the parks, loathed going shopping, and already gotten used to the sun and swimming.