Despite celebrating both Sinterklaas and Christmas here in the Netherlands, both involving gift-giving, we never got to unwrap the email we’ve been waiting for saying “Your entry permit is approved. You can send your passport to the embassy for a stamp now”.
That’s a shame. We were hoping to be getting serious about plans for returning to Papua New Guinea this month, but it’s to remain an intention to get ready as soon as we’re able to.
The clock is ticking on my 90-day visa here in the Netherlands and it’s starting to look more likely that we’ll have to return to the UK in the middle of Feb rather than fly on to PNG. We were hoping to avoid an extra international move, but with all the uncertainty the pandemic has brought to travel we’ve learned to hold plans extra loosely (as I think most people have!).
Without visa applications, buying airline tickets, and packing to distract us we’ve been enjoying lots of visits and some Christmas joy instead 🙂
It kind of feels like Oscar’s first real Christmas. He was so young before that he didn’t really know what it was, but this year we’ve been trying to figure out our own way of blending Dutch, English, and New Guinean Christmases. It was an absolute delight as parents to be able to wander around a toy store and pick out little stocking fillers.
2021 was the year of Paw Patrol for Oscar. He discovered the cartoons and grew to absolutely love them. Seeing him line up his set of all 6 Paw Patrol pups he got for Christmas was really special.
So too was the special time of his calling all the family over here “fatty boom booms” (I wonder where he learned that :p) you while Alice and Millie babbled away to uncles and grandparents.
As international nomads there’s a weird double edge to all these moments as we know they are the exception rather than the rule; we’ll be elsewhere more often than not. It’s kind of strange to visit the toy store and really enjoy it. It feels so normal, but then we wonder how we’ll do it next year (hopefully) in PNG.
I guess the benefit is that we keep being reminded to not take things for granted and enjoy things as they come.
With the new year we’re able to look back and think of the roller coaster experience we had finding out we were having twins, medical evacuation from Kovol and a successful journey back to the UK as airlines cut flights to the UK left, right and centre in response to the ‘British’ Covid strain.
We’re very glad, as we look forwards to travelling again, that our twins are fat, healthy and 9 months old. If we get stranded somewhere, sure it’ll be difficult, but we won’t have the clock ticking like last time as we raced to get home before Gerdine could no longer fly due to pregnancy.
The last year has gone by in a blur. It’s so weird to think about our flat we rented being all packed up and a fading memory when I can so clearly remember all the stress trying to phone a UK estate agent from PNG (with all the time difference) and sign a tenancy agreement over broken internet. It’s strange that those memories are so vivid when the last year has been a complete blur of… twins.
I’m so glad to be out of the newborn stage!
We’re still wondering how we’re going to cope when we get back to Kovol, but we feel that we’ve got a reasonable chance of coping with our smiley, happy babies whereas even just a few months ago it felt crazy. Moving house, packing all our UK things and saying goodbye to friends and family in the UK has certainly put me in the mood to get back. While in the UK, a return to Kovol felt a bit like taking a deep breath before ripping a plaster (band-aid) off of a hairy leg – something I do a lot of in Kovol incidentally. With half of our goodbyes said already, I’m really looking forward to getting back to life in Kovol.
Although I’m still not particularly looking forward to the journey to get there!
Please be praying for Gerdine’s entry permit to progress!