Monday, August 22, 2011

Coming Home.

Well, we have been home for over a month now. It feels like just yesterday we were stepping off the plane in Washington DC with the realization that we weren’t in Africa any more. Let me tell you about our travel experiences…

Traveling home was much more difficult than traveling there. Shawn and I left PE pretty early in the morning. The cab driver was pretty chatty but Shawn and I really were just trying to soak up every ounce of South Africa we could before we left. The goodbyes were filled with many tears. We had to say goodbye to good friends, we drove past some of our favorite places, and the airport is right by Walmer. We got to the PE airport way to early. The airport is tiny so it took us about ten minutes to get checked in and through security. We sat at our gate and got coffee from the little place we had gotten it on our way to Zambia a few weeks before. We both pretty much sat in silence with the occasional glance at each other knowing that we weren’t ready to leave. When they called us to board we knew it was over but it didn’t make it any easier. We said goodbye to PE and were off. In Jo’burg we landed and went shopping. We picked up some last minute souvenirs and just walked around the airport. The airport is huge and quite nice. Shawn and I got some lunch. Ironically it was a health restaurant and I think Shawn was disappointed they didn’t have fries :) Of course, we had to stop at the Indian restaurant so Shawn could get a final samoosa in SA. We met up with Patrick and Kelly who were both on our flight from Jo’burg to Washington DC. We had a LONG layover. I think it was something like eleven hours. It went by pretty quickly though. We watched our DVD’s we had made of our pictures and talked.  We met a group of high schoolers on their way back from two weeks in Malawi so that was cool. We walked around and got some supper late and then just waited some more. About an hour before we were supposed to board we had a security screening.  We had to get in two separate lines of males and females. We were then patted down and our carry-on’s searched. It was weird and kind of a pain but oh well. It took up some time! It was after 10 SA time so it was dark when we got on the plane. It was the last time our feet would touch African soil in a long time. Again, there were a few tears. We were optimistic getting on the plane. We were going to try and stay up and watch a movie before going to sleep and all that. We had a plan. It didn’t work. I ended up getting a terrible stomachache. I was having really bad stomach cramps and was just downright uncomfortable. The plane was packed so there was no way for us to spread out or even really walk around. I took tums, pepto bismal, and Tylenol but nothing seemed to work. We finally landed in Senegal which we thought would be a quick half hour of unloading and reloading. It turned out to be much longer.  They turned all the lights on and made us take all of our overhead luggage out of the bins. They searched the bins and the seats of those who had left. They had problems with double bookings so we had more people on the plane than seats! Shawn and I were pretty miserable two hours later when we finally left for the leg of our trip to DC. We finally got to DC late and Shawn and I were STRESSED. I think the next 30 minutes were probably the most trying moments in our relationship. We rushed through passport control, we ran to our luggage, we grabbed them off the cart and then….had no idea where to go. We were panicked about our flight, tired, I had a stomach ache, and basically our minds were having trouble focusing. We finally asked someone and figured out where we needed to go. We were second in line but the lady in. front. of. us. took. forever.  We were finally able to talk to a lady from United and she told us we had better start running because flights to Chicago were booked for the next two days. She printed our boarding passes we dropped off our luggage and literally did start to run. We asked the group in front of us if we could go in front of them since we were going to miss our flight when we reached security. They looked at us and said NO. Okay. Shawn was in ultimate survival mode. I was just trying to keep some sanity. We finally got up to security and the guard told us to “Run like hell!” We did. We were so happy when we got on the tram to our gate. Our plane was taking off in five minutes but our tickets said D3. We figured that we would get off the tram and practically be at our gate. We (almost) breathed a sigh of relief. Nope. We got off the tram and the first sign we see? D20. No. We started running. Like those crazy people you see screaming and running through the airport that you just want to tell to chill out. That was us. At one point I thought we were done and I started walking. I figured whatever, we will get home eventually. Shawn kept running ahead and then came around the corner waving me down and telling me to hurry up. Apparently, the United lady told him in not so friendly of a manner that the gate was closed. Somehow it worked out and we ran onto the plane. It would be my luck to be sitting in the middle seat of the back row. Awesome. Luckily, there was a really nice older gentlemen who told me it was fine, helped me with my carryon and was very reassuring. I wish I could tell him Thank You because I was about to lose it at that point. We finally got settled but guess what? The plane didn’t leave for another FIFTEEN minutes. It was waiting for other people from our flight. We finally got a little bit calmed down and before we knew it we had landed in Chicago. We got off the plane and realized we weren’t sure where our little black case thing was that we kept our passports in . I had to go back on the plane (to the middle seat of the very last row) to look for it. One flight attendant was very nice and helpful but other one was quite rude. We couldn’t find it but at that point I didn’t care. I’d pay for a new one! We got off the plane and did eventually find it shoved in one of our carry on’s . We immediately found a bathroom. We put on some clean clothes and tried to look as “with it” as we could. We finally found Brad, Karmen, Ryan, Nicole, and Luke. Shawn gave me my engagement ring! It was gorgeous but we were both ready to get in the car and get home! Our luggage miraculously made the journey intact. We went to the hotel, got in the car, went and picked up the uhaul, went to McDonalds and then we were finally on the way home! We took the long way home thanks to the TomTom and didn’t make it back to Baxter until after midnight. Along the way we made many stops. My stomach situation was improving slightly but Shawn’s was getting worse. We knew it was bad when he didn’t want anything from Subway. We started to unpack our luggage to try and repack it for Okoboji. Shawn and I just looked at each other about .04 seconds after unzipping the first bag and decided we should just go to bed! Shawn took a shower and I took a bath! We went to bed with our alarm set for 8:00 am. Surprisingly, we weren’t that tired the next morning.  I think we were still filled with adrenaline and trying to figure out the time difference. We packed for Okoboji and went to church in Maxwell. It was nice to be back but it pretty much felt the same. I don’t know why we thought that it would somehow be different. It wasn’t. It was pretty much exactly as we had left. Karen (Shawn’s grandma) brought Shawn a birthday cake and TONS of goodies to church. Cheese and crackers had NEVER tasted so good. After church we went to Okoboji Bar and Grill with Shawn’s family. We ate and watched our video of our trip. It was fun to talk to everyone and show off all the souvenirs we had bought. After that, we went to Des Moines to see my Grandma in the hospital. I brought my computer and we were able to skype with the rest of the family already at the lake. It was SO good to see my grandma and grandpa. They were just as crazy as ever. We finally hit the road for the four hour drive to Okoboji. We took our time and we got there around 8. My mom, Morgan and Bri were waiting for us and immediately ran up to us when we pulled in. Morgan started crying and Bri kept asking what her surprises were! We got unloaded and in the room. We gave everyone their gifts and then ate our first homemade meal since we had been back. It was amazing!! We went to bed early even though the exhaustion still hadn’t quite hit us. The rest of the week was spent trying to adjust to the time and the food. We had fun but knew we had a lot more work to do now that we were home. We ended up leaving on Friday so that we could get up early on Saturday and start packing. We moved to CF and then came home. We went back to CF to look for jobs and then came home. NOW, we are officially in Cedar Falls and waiting for classes to begin. This experience was probably two of the craziest weeks of my LIFE. Now, we are just planning when we can go back and do it all again :) 

I had this all in paragraph form but it somehow got messed up! Oops!  

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