Monday, June 13, 2011

the {belated} story of how we ACTUALLY got home...

it occurs to me occasionally that most people have never heard the adventures that transpired on the never-ending journey back to the states. now that i am back, and have been for nearly a month, i feel like i am in a mental state to tell the story of my trip.

monday, april 25th: being our last (full, free) day in portugal (that we avoided packing), we went to different family's houses for meals. we enjoyed a day of fellowship and laughter... and of course, STL Cardinals baseball on tv :)

tuesday, april 26th... krisanna and i went to school in the morning, home for lunch, to the ocean in the afternoon, did some more sightseeing, then dinner at home, then a trip downtown to soak up the sights for our last few waking hours in the country we've both grown to love. the sights were amazing, the air was perfect, the waves were gorgeous, the friendship was nine weeks stronger than it had been when we left, and the country was just as splendid. we got back to our apartment late that night and finished up some packing and cleaning, then headed to bed (which we had debated, but obviously, God knew we needed ALL the sleep we could get...)

[tuesday, april 26th - thursday, april 28th]... had our trip gone as planned, this would only have taken one date, but to fully explain it, i'll need a few... WEDNESDAY! our flight was scheduled to leave the airport at 12:05, but taking into account traffic and scheduling, we left at 7:30 in the morning. in order to be up, packed, cleaned, full, and fully ready, we woke up at 5:45. [insert time stamp in your brain of 11:45 p.m. TUESDAY NIGHT]. we gathered our things and headed off to the airport. to make the time go by faster, we watched some movies (that i had brought) while we were waiting at the gate. insert sub-story here: while we were waiting, we were kicked out of our gate and sent back to go through security again. there was a couple in front of us with a baby, so their carry-on was loaded with baby toys. they proceeded to take out EVERY toy from their bag, and fiddle with it to make sure it wasn't rigged to explode. while the Portuguese security guard played with the toys, they proceeded to make noise, and another guard explained that they were supposed to do that. it was funny to watch as a person who has played with those toys herself!

back to the trip... we board the plane, and watch movies some more, work on homework, stuff like that... and listen to some girl from Detroit pour out her life story in an outside voice. we were exhausted, but so excited to finally get home.

we landed in the US. finally. after an eight hour flight. we go through customs and meet a nice young gentleman named D'Amico. i love the names that people have in American customs... haha. anyway, we made it through quickly, much to our surprise. and here comes the GOOD PART...

we are in the Newark airport. just went through customs, and now head to get our bags so we can get them RECHECKED... so we can fly home. we rent a cart for $5.00 and pile our suitcases high. i'm pushing the cart (which has NO power steering and brakes like a bicycle) which is loaded down (exceeding the weight limit) with 2 huge suitcases and two carry-ons while krisanna maneuvers with two suitcases behind her. we make the trek ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE HUGE NEWARK AIRPORT... and American doorways are skinnier than Portuguese doorways... so, i'm BARELY fitting through the elevator door, the tram door, the restroom door, the other doors... and getting INSANE looks from people... AND they speak my language which makes it worse. haha. so after we make it all the way across the airport, we get rid of our luggage and head to our gate. we sit down and are thankful that we still have some time to spare before we board for Milwaukee... little did we know...

our flight was supposed to leave Newark at 5:30. And we are still sitting in the airport at 9:30 waiting for our plane that got lost in "bad weather." we made new friends. and we stocked up on food since we didn't know if we'd ever make it our of that airport. but we are reassured that our plane is coming, after being delayed six or seven times. but FINALLY we get on the plane, after exhausting our entertaining resources like homework and movies. we make it to Milwaukee at 11:30, but wait... our flight out of Milwaukee was supposed to leave at 9! bummer...

this is where the story gets really good... we get to the airport at 11:30 at night. it sounds late, but remember, we lost 6 hours... so it feels like 5:30. and the airplane was IMPOSSIBLE to sleep on. and it was cold. and damp. and empty. and the flight attendant was in tears. we get to Milwaukee and have until 10:30 the next morning to wait for a flight... because Des Moines, Iowa is such a booming metropolis. due to horror stories we had heard about young girls being attacked in the airport, even with passers-by, we "set up camp" in the middle of the lobby. [insert example of krisanna's genius here] because we got hot and sweaty running through the Newark airport, krisanna packed her fleece jacket away in her suitcase. but the Milwaukee airport was freezing. so i was a pal and lent her my scarves... that she bundled up around her legs. anyway, we plugged in our laptops, watched some movies, did some homework, and tried to catch some shut eye. nothing is harder than sleeping when you're beyond exhausted, in an airport, and uncomfortable in several ways... so, we stayed up all night. good thing for me i had my makeup and straightener and all my movies in my carry-on! so at 3:30, i headed to the bathroom to "get ready." then we waited for the starbucks employees to show up at 4:00. and for about an hour we listened to the MOST SOCIALLY UNACCEPTABLE GUY WE'VE EVER SEEN talk on the phone loudly trying to learn japanese. OBNOXIOUS. and he creeped us out. best part of milwaukee??? other than being there for 12 hours, the gorgeous grand piano that sat right next to us all night... THAT I WASN'T ALLOWED TO PLAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! sheesh...

anyway, finally made it to Des Moines after being x-rayed to death in one of those far-too-personal, "let-me-see-your-skivvies-without-explaining-what-this-machine-does" security checks, and learning that 3 oz. is a big enough bottle that if filled with C4, an entire plane would be obliterated...

we landed in Iowa at around noon. after being awake for almost 40 hours. but the best way to get over jetlag is to stay awake... so we did. i drove right to wal-mart. and was truly shocked when the Hispanic cashier talked to me in English, even though i could barely understand her.

so after 48 hours of sleepless adventure, we went to sleep... only to take our Praxis test (which we had to pass to be licensed teachers) the next morning...

BUT... while we were in the airport for hours, i made a list of things to do to keep yourself busy in an airport. enjoy.

make new friends.
ask for free food.
get denied free food.
read a magazine.
play hangman.
take a nap.
watch a movie.
draw a picture.
do yoga.
read the same magazine again.
witness to your new friends.
do homework.
laugh at yourself for trying.
change clothes.
do your makeup.
do your hair.
"grocery shop" because you know the food stores are closing.
ask the other passengers if this plane even exists.
look outside the window at your suitcase that is waiting "in bad weather" and hope it stays dry.
take a nap in a chair, protecting your luggage.
run away from creepers.
ask if you can play the grand piano.
take a nap on the floor.
countdown hours til Starbucks opens.
wrap in scarves to keep warm.
go to the airport's museum.
learn Japanese.
and realize that America is just the same as the way you left it.

P.S. this post was written so i can finally move on with other adventures... in cooking, parenting, and growing up. :)