I am now in America for the first time in 2 and a half years, well 29 months to be exact, but who’s counting? My Peace Corps service is complete and my days of traveling around India and Nepal are finished for now.
I’ve brushed my teeth with tap water, eaves dropped on conversations, flushed my toilet paper down the toilet and relearned how to drive a car. Mostly, I’ve been walking around in awe at how familiar and unfamiliar it all is.
The Journey Home Begins
Strikes in Nepal have been somewhat of a bi-weekly occurrence since we arrived. My entire time in Nepal I had a suspicion that there would be a strike the day I needed to go to the airport. And there was! So how does one get to the airport when no cars will drive on the street? By bicycle rickshaw, the world’s slowest method of transportation. Thankfully, we had given ourselves plenty of time to get to the airport. Pushing the rickshaw up hills would have been less enjoyable had we been panicked about catching our flight.
Flight #1 Nepal-India
Lesson learned: don’t illegally overstay your visa because Nepal is so awesome you don’t want to leave. The process of taking care of this really wasn’t so bad. It just cost a pretty penny.
After arriving in the Delhi airport we found ourselves with 12 hours to kill before catching our next flight. The airport wouldn’t allow us in the departures section until 5 hours before our flight, so we awkwardly hung around the arrivals terminal, playing cards, reading and musing about what America will be like.
Flight #2 Delhi to Chicago
14.5 hours of flight time on this one. The countless hours I have spent on Thai tour buses prepared me well for this leg of the trip. I spent a lot of the time amazed at how big the seats were and how much leg room I had.
Flight #3 Chicago to San Diego
Upon arriving in Chicago I discovered that my flight to Dallas had been cancelled. I waited in line for an hour to get my flights rerouted and was lucky enough to find an option that got me in only two hours later than my previous arrival time. The flight cancelation didn’t phase me too much. People in line with me were frantically using cell phones and the f-word, while I kind of just stood there and zoned out. Turns out I’m quite docile after 28 hours of travel.
At the airport I bought myself some welcome to America treats I’d been longing for: a Vogue magazine, a new crossword puzzle book and a soy latte. Bliss. Turns out I had already done a lot of the crosswords in the puzzle book. I started to actually worry that I will soon complete all the New York Times crosswords. I don’t even want to think about what I would do with myself if that day ever came.
My new flight to San Diego was absolutely packed with people and the airline offered a $500 travel voucher to people willing to go on a later flight. The things I could do with a $500 travel voucher! I was willing, but was told that my flight to Portland was booked and I should stay on this one. Then I offered to stay overnight in Chicago and fly out the next day. I’d been dying to see Chicago anyway. I was given the nod and then at the last minute someone whose final destination was San Diego offered to go on a later flight. That punk snatched my $500 travel voucher out from under me!
Flight #4 San Diego to Portland
This is where it all gets very fuzzy and sleepy. The only thing I remember is sitting next to an old woman and doing crosswords in our respective books. I felt like we had an unspoken bond.
I made it into Portland earlier than expected, which means I had to ask the help desk if I could borrow the phone so my family could come pick me up. My dad was not happy that his plan to pick me up at the gate with balloons had been thwarted.
The First Meal
My parents asked where I would like to go for dinner and I immediately replied “Andina!” I’d been thinking about this moment for a very, very long time. So we went, and we ate the yummy novo peruvian food and drank infused cocktails. And after we stopped by Cupcake Jones where I had a peanut butter cupcake that made me very much appreciate being back home again.
What About Nepal?
Yes, I went to Nepal. No, I haven’t written about it yet. But I will. Very soon.