Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Estamos en casa!

What's that math thing where you cover half the distance to your destination, and then half of the remainder, and then half of that, and so on? You continue getting closer and closer to your goal, but you never actually arrive. I have no idea what that's called, but it should be known as The Coming Home From Spain Phenomenon.

We covered quite a lot of territory at first. Got to the airport, got on the plane, and got across the ocean no problem. I'm especially happy about that last accomplishment, because if there's any part of traveling that you want to go smoothly, it's the vast-body-of-water-crossing part. I do pay attention when they demonstrate the yellow vests and the inflatable rafts and I promise, when the time comes, to remove my shoes and leave all hand baggage behind while I follow the floor level lighting to the nearest exit, which may be behind me. But, really. I can't believe that any of that will be the least bit helpful when something awful happens to the plane as we're going a kajillion miles an hour six miles above the ocean (I'm pretty sure those were the numbers on that helpful info screen). So, yes, I'm very happy we did that part without a hitch. But once we landed, there were nothing but hitches between us and home.

We stood in just enough lines (baggage, customs, security) that we missed our next flight by five minutes. The next flight wasn't for six hours, and since we could have hitchhiked home in six hours, we decided to instead take an earlier flight to a nearby city and take the bus home from there. All this decision making and plan-changing, of course, involved many different Airline Officials, and felt like wading through complicated, official porridge. But the officials, even while mired in porridge, were extremely helpful and kind, and we successfully flew to that nearby city, and were done with planes for a while. But then the bus was late enough getting to the airport that it just decided to be both the late-leaving six o'clock bus and the early-leaving eight o'clock bus, just to average things out and piss off a few more people.

Days later (I'm sure) we finally pulled into the dark, freezing bus station in our dark, freezing hometown. The first cab at the cab stand was empty, so after looking around for the appropriate amount of time (given the temperature, about forty seconds), and then hopped in the second cab, belted up, proclaimed our destination, and were about to get a little closer to home when (of course) the owner of the first cab barreled out of the station and requested that we get out, unload our bags, load them in her cab, and allow her to take us home and take our money, as was only right, fair, and proper. We're usually easygoing, tractable people (at least in public), but we had moved beyond usual. This poor woman, who had a point, was our Last Straw. We mustered up all our remembered skills from toddlerhood, set our respective jaws, and said, "No." And (eventually) it worked. Grumpy resistance pays off! Look out world!

So then, only about 45 minutes earlier than we would have gotten into town had we hitchhiked, we got home. After a month away from our native cuisine, we were good, loyal Americans and got Thai take-out for dinner. And then we went to bed.

Now, even after I've warmed up, eaten, slept a lot, and settled in, it still feels good to be home. I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed my first trip to the grocery store. I knew what everything was, I could find everything I needed, and I could rest assured that the cheese was all industrially produced and free of anything offensive like listeria or complex flavor.

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