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And in the end

Saturday, May 10 2008

Here is a picture of the erupting volcano.

Last night we got an email message, at 8:00pm, that informed us our flight was due to leave for Miami at 11:45pm instead of 2:45am so we packed up as quickly as we could and rushed to the airport. Unbeknownst to us a volcano in Chile had erupted on Tuesday. The ash from the ejector was spread all over South America; we thought it seemed dusty as we walked around Buenos Aires.

Anyway, when we got to the airport at 9:00pm it was bedlam. Many flights had been canceled and most were uncertain about departure. So we got into the very long check in line and waited in it until 11:00pm when we were finally checked in. After this we passed through customs and security check points and were through these by 12:00am. We had been informed that our flight would not leave until 2:45am now; this was the same as the original departure time. Once in, what we thought was the departure lounge we ate a typical airport meal and hung around until 1:00am. Then we went to, what we thought was, the departure gate. There was no place to sit but many people were laying and sitting on the floor so we joined them. I put my pack under my head and feel fast asleep until the sound of people moving woke me at 2:00am. They were all moving through the departure gate for our flight, so we joined them. It turned out not to be a departure gate, but instead it was another passport and security check point. We could not figure why they needed to check out our passports and carryon bags again, but we complied without complaint. Once past these check points we were all shuffled into a waiting room. We waited in this waiting room until 5:00am without water, as they took our water at the last check point, to board the flight. There were no messages, not even in Spanish, all the time we waited so we had no idea what was wrong or even if the flight would ever leave. This was truly the worst airport experience I have ever had and the second worst for Julia. Julia got stuck in Canada the day of 9-11 after the World Trade Center bombings and had to sleep in a school gym with hundreds of other passengers for three days.

Here is a shot of how happy Julia and I were of the prospect of returning to the good old US of A.

The good news was once on the airplane we had all four center seats to ourselves which was rather lucky as the flight was very full. As soon as the landing gear was retracted Julia and I were asleep. I slept almost uninterrupted for 6 hours! For me this is unheard of as you know if you have been reading my other airplane travel stories. The flight was uneventful other than the unpleasantness leading up to it. Julia and I were very glad to be back in the USA!

We took a taxi ride from the airport to our hotel in South Beach Miami. This taxi driver seemed so sedate and careful compared to other taxi drivers we had encountered around the world. Once at our hotel we went for a walk on Lincoln road and found a Starbucks. We had had been invited to a friend of Julia's party that evening. We had a second wind now and so we took another well driven cab to the party. We ate great food and met many people there but we soon ran out of steam and returned to our hotel to sleep away our first night in the USA since December 16 2007.

Sunday, May 11 2008

Here is a shot of Julia, J.C., and Bob.

We had breakfast at Starbucks this morning, and then took a walk to Ocean Drive to see the great old buildings there.

Here is a shot of Steve, Sarah, and Julia.

Then we walked along the beach to the Ritz Carlton hotel where we met up with J.C., Bob, Sarah, and Steve for brunch. It was a very warm and humid day in Miami today so we were glad to be in the cool of the Ritz hotel. We walked to J.C. and Bob's apartment and got great views of the down town and the bay. Before we knew it, it was 6:30pm. We took our leave and headed back to the hotel.

While walking down Lincoln road mall we came across a movie theater and could not resist seeing a movie for the first time in a very long time. We saw Iron Man; which was a very good piece of mindless escapism; and we loved it.

Monday, May 12 2008

Here is a shot of me enjoying my first Starbucks coffee in quite some time.

I cannot believe it, but we are taking our last flight today, for home. This means we will just have to unpack our bags and then not pack them again in a long time. It also means we will have access to a whole wardrobe of clothes. We will not be living out of our trusty suitcases anymore. We will be able to sleep in our own bed. We will be able to eat our own food; no more buffet breakfasts for us!

We thought we had left the crazy check in systems we encountered in other countries behind us, but this was not the case. It seems even America companies can be guilty of convoluted and very inefficient check in systems also. This was the case this morning when we checked in at American Airlines in Miami. I will not bore you with the details, but it was the second worst system we have encountered over the last six months of travel. Oh well, we made our flight despite of the crazy system and we were sure happy it was our last commercial flight for some time to come; I hope.

Here are some statistics from our trip. We have:

  • Visited 7 different countries

  • Taken 22 flights

  • Flown 45,680 miles

  • Waited at airports for over 80 hours

  • Walked over 200 miles up hill and dale

  • Taken 8 train trips

  • Taken 7 boat trips

  • Taken over 30 very scary taxi rides

  • Taken 3 cable car rides

  • Caught the flu twice

  • Had five colds

  • Had food poisoning twice

  • Experienced temperatures ranging from -10 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit

  • Been robbed at gunpoint once

  • Been robbed by two large corporations

  • Ate at least 125 buffet breakfasts

  • Made many new friends

  • Had a lot of fun

We made it home safe!

Julia and I would like to thank you for reading our diary and following along with our travels. We hope you enjoyed reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it.

And in the End Video

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