I didn't cry. I had done that when leaving Banos. The last weeks of our time in South America were more like a vacation, 3 days here, 4 days there, enough time in airports and cabs to keep us from getting too attached or nostalgic. Still, leaving Quito, our pass-through city for many of our trips, did have some heft.
"I know this airport. . . We've been here before. . . " Miguel had murmured, barely awake in just underwear and my sweatshirt.
I did some rambling writing on the plane, I guess my way of turning away from the mountains and focusing on the next part of this journey (our "sabbatical" does not end until September). Somehow a month has passed and I haven't gotten to posting it. Coming home has been intense--busy and wonderful, including a trip to visit my parents and a week at the Indiana lake shore. Now we are home for over two weeks before heading out west. I feel like the plane is finally touching down for a spell.
This is what I wrote between Quito and Houston, June 17.
We're going home, trading concrete for bricks, contour for a still ball on Chicago's flat streets. Saying goodbye to being able to play in the streets.
We joke that we did this trip, in part, to cheat a winter. We wanted time outside (afuera) and time together. Sure, Michael and I both had some projects to work on, but mostly we saw this as a chance to really focus on our family. In some ways, I see this trip as a tribute to Michael's Mom and Dad, who, on humble salaries, always managed to get 5 kids out on epic camper van adventures.
Maybe we could have done "more": learned more Spanish, gotten to know more people more deeply, gone further with our projects. . . but I don't think that's what we wanted. As I let my mind relax and float over images from these last five months, I don't see the scenery from all the runs I described in such detail on the blog, or Michael's cerveceria, or my computer (even though I spent plenty of time pecking away at this machine.)
In the last 5 months, hardly a day has gone by when Miguel has not spent a lot of time outside, interacting with people and places. In the pic here, he is running along his "track" in Cartagena, a plaza that leads to the gate of the walled old city. We let him do laps, which involved a few seconds of barely being able to see him. How strange to feel safer there than in Chicago, or maybe it's just that this trip overlapped with him easing into a more responsible age.
Right now, he is conked out on my lap in the plane--#3 of 4 on our 2 day, somewhat backtracking journey home. We had to get up at 3:30am to be at the airport for our 6am flight, which felt excessive. But there were lots of lines, and we all got patted down tons of times. My checked bag was picked for extra screening, and I was taken down to the tarmac for a visit with security. Maybe the bag of rocks from Ecuador's coast looked suspicious. Michael had certainly thought it was silly for me to haul them.
And I am thinking my Spanish is at least somewhat serviceable (thanks to Mayra's Spanish School.) I managed to save us $120 bucks in exit fees. Pagamos dos semenas proximas cuando visitamos Colombia. Necesitamos regresar a Quito antes salimos por estados unidos. Estamos aqui in Quito por solo un noche, menos un noche!
The fee collector eventually agreed that we should not pay twice in two weeks to leave the country and asked for proof of our Colombia trip. I thought our passports should be sufficient, but she needed evidence from yesterday's airline. I somehow was able to communicate our predicament to the Avianca rep, get the docs I needed and all was well.
Things I will miss from our time in South America: (I hate to make generalizations, so preface all the following with "Of our limited data sample")
- I will miss the easy formality and the care people take putting them selves together. Not too fussy, but so many of the men and women who crossed our paths just looked good. Lots of sharp hair cuts and very few dunlops. US tourists seem so slouchy and sleepy, especially in the airport. (Note my child walking around in undies and a sweat shirt.) No wonder people were always trying to shine my shoes.
- I will miss not feeling short
- Being immersed into another language
- Being outside in so many senses of the word
- 4 1/2 hours of "1/2 day" school.
- Miguel's teachers, Adita, Joanna.
- Being able to hop on a bus and get to so may different places
- Having only 4 bags of possessions
- Being able to pop in on Jim, Marshia, Mayra, Wouter and our other friends
- The time to think
- Runs on dirt
- Vistas, peaks, thin air
- being out of the US
- New friends we just started getting to know--I am looking at you, Daniela and Rebecca
- Ronit and Gilad, our yoga teachers, in pic above
- the Posada's sala, food, staff, Simon and views of the waterfall and mirrored windows of the house across the street
- The French restaurant's shade garden and rickety play set, the front yard at Daniela's Casa Del Abuelo, zip line park, pastaza (esp the view from Rebecca's Casa Verde), bike ride up to Lligua, Sauce bridge
- hot baths
- mini power outages
- chocolate bolitas from the panderia around the corner
- warm water to swim in
- so much time together
I will not miss
- poop on the sidewalks
- crappy butter
- bus exhaust
- being a tourist
- stilted conversations
- large roaches
- crappy beds
- eating out so much
- elusiveness of whole wheat flour
- so much time together (sometimes it was a bit much for this introvert--still I wouldn't trade it for the world)
- friends and family
- my garden--thank goodness for perennials
- wood floors and long hallways
- baseball games
- excellent oil and vinegar
- bitter greens
- my washing machine
- running in Palmer Square
- road bike tires
- good butter and chocolate
- working hard