Processing… Processing… Cannot Compute

I had to throw in a little computer humor to get this post started, but seriously, even as I am sitting on my airplane, several thousand miles above Qingdao and China, I haven’t even begun to process what is happening. I am hoping that by writing out the realities and the changes that I am currently going through and still waiting for, I will begin the process of processing.

Leaving Day

Today was extremely hard. It was the first day that actually really felt like leaving China was a reality, not a dream. Now, with that being said, I still won’t believe it until I am safely on the ground in another country with both cats, but reality started sinking in today.

I have felt like a ball of nervous energy has been swelling up in my stomach since I rolled over at 4:00 this morning. Even before that, I woke up at multiple points throughout the night to roll over and make sure the cats were still there.

Around 9:00 am, I put the cats in their crates and called a friend to come to help me carry them to the gate. The nerves really kicked in there. I guess it was just separation anxiety or something. I’m still not sure what it was, but I’m still feeling it right now while sitting on the first plane.

A small moment of panic set in around 11:30 am when my contact messaged me to tell me that the noon flight for the cats had been canceled. My understanding was they would be moved to the late-night flight and they would leave at 10:00 pm. However, with a bit more communication and translation, I realized that there was a flight in the afternoon, and what he was actually saying was that the flight at noon was canceled, but they would be on the flight in the afternoon and they should be able to arrive at the hotel by 10:00 pm as planned. Crisis averted.

Final Goodbyes

Sending Off Party

Then came the next challenge, the sending off. Up to this point, I haven’t really cried, and I don’t really like crying in front of people (though some people will argue that I cry a lot). When a group of people I have worked with for the last 2 years showed up to send me off, I knew it was coming, and yet I was still caught off guard. One of them even brought their dog who loves me and I love so much!

My sister was there too, and her crying did not help. I was honestly speechless. So many people had so many nice things to say and I wanted to say things to them, but all I could manage was “thank you” and “I’ll miss you too.” After hugs, pictures, prayers, and lots of heartfelt words of encouragement, I hopped in the van, they told me to buckle up because the driver was crazy (lol… honestly, he was great and even hugged me and told me to have a great summer when he dropped me off), and then I was off to face the much-anticipated struggles of the airport.

Airports During “Zero Covid Policy” Times

I had kind of been forewarned that security and things would be a bit stricter and it would take longer because of covid policy since we are still terrified of it around here.

I was pleasantly surprised at how simple it was to get through everything, and I ended up not having to pay as much as I had originally thought for overweight baggage and what not. I will say though, that I do not expect it to be nearly as simple on Sunday with two cats, a lot of baggage, and the fact that I am leaving the country. So, prayers are still greatly appreciated.

Hotel Room for 3, Please?

Well, I can honestly say this is a first. I have been a cat mom for as long as I can remember, and my parents even had a cat when I was born. In my 30 years of having cats in my life, I have never once stayed in a hotel room with any of them until today.

The first night was scary so they stayed close and under the blankets even though it was HOT.

I had originally planned to get an Airbnb that was pet-friendly, but thanks to the “Zero Covid Policy” none of them are willing or able to accept foreign passport holders. Thankfully, I was introduced to the most AMAZING travel agent ever (I mean, she is my first but she is amazing!), Emily, and she saved the day yet again!

She was able to find me a small local hotel that could accept foreigners and was not only willing to allow the cats to stay in the room with me but the hotel would also provide us with transportation to the airport on the day of my flight! On top of that, it is 7 minutes from the airport and super cheap! (only $30/night!!!)

I converted one of the carriers into a temporary litter box, set their food and water out using the bowls on the other carrier, and let them wander around the hotel so they could relax. Eventually, Monkey settled down and kind of got back to her normal self, but Stinky still spent most of the time under the bed. Getting him out is going to be interest.

First morning in the hotel. Stinky even came out from under the bed.

Leaving Day

In case you haven’t realized this yet, I’ve been writing this post over the course of 3 days. The first part was on Friday when I left, the middle was from Saturday, and this part is me wrapping up my time in China on Sunday.

As I am writing this final bit, I will be leaving the hotel in about 2.5 hours. The hotel will provide transport to the airport, thankfully. Then assuming all goes well, I will get the cats checked in about 3 hours before the flight, get myself through security, and then be able to rest, relax, and hopefully process a bit more at the gate.

Assuming that I’m calculating time zones correctly, I should be on Qatar soil in about 15 hours and I should be back in the US in about 40 hours. It feels like such a long time, and the travel time is going to be about 32 hours total. I am nervous and hoping that I can sleep for at least some of the trip. I also plan to catch up on my backend coding classes that I’m behind on thanks to this international move and the end of the school year.

Things to Pray for

There are so many things to be praying for over the next 2 days and the 2-4 weeks that follow, but I will keep this list short and concentrated to the next 2 days.

  • No problems with getting the cats on the plane
  • Ease of going through security
  • Good weather throughout the flight (calling for thunderstorms all day/night at starting location)
  • Health and safety for the cats and an opportunity for them to relax and rest for most of the trip
  • Health for me as I suspect after 3 years since the last time I visited anywhere outside of China, I will get sick
  • Concentration, patience, understanding, and kind hearts for the travelers, flight attendants, piolets, and everyone involved in getting all of the passengers to their destinations safely.
  • God’s will in all these things

So, that list was a bit longer than I expected, but I wanted to cover all my bases. Thanks so much for taking the time to read, and I will either post upon arrival in Qatar or some time after I get the cats to their new home and settled. Thanks for following along with me on my journey home!

Probably my last photo in China for a while. Rainy thunderstorm type day.

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