Coming home

Trip Start Jan 28, 2005
Trip End Aug 2005

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Friday, September 23, 2005

'There is no place like home, no place like home' Dorothy said and clicked the red shoes together three times before she was back home in Kansas. I was standing in the 15 mile long queue at Eziza airport outside Buenos Aires, I closed my eyes and clicked my orange havaianas together three times. I opened my eyes and found myself still in Buenos Aires, still the fourth person from the end of the queue. Sigh.. My journey home was looking like it was going to be a bit trickier than Dorothy's. Or, perhaps... Could this mean I was already 'home'?

I told a teeny weeny tiny porky in my last pod.. See, I was going home to surprise la familia so I couldn't blurt it out online that I was actually going home two days later. Well, that was the plan.. Not that I was particularly good at sticking to plans in the last 6 months. As I was having a birthday lunch (that'll be a big, juicy steak) my phone vibrates and delivers the following message from Adrian 'Is your flight ok or has it been cancelled?' Turns out he was not playing an immensely cruel joke on me. My flight due to leave 23 hours later had been cancelled. HORRAY! Thank you British Airways - what a birthday pressie. Because of the strike I get more time in Buenos Aires. My trip is not over yet anyway. Another 24 hours. Another day. I am so lucky..

Nick takes me out for a birthday dinner to the excellent Manolo's in San Telmo and after a non-red-meat-and-glorious-red-wine-dinner (birthday girl had had a rather massive slab of cow for lunch and was almost all red-meated-out. But we did have a bottle of Malbec-Merlot-Cabernet which was just a divine combination!) we head out with Estefi and Alex and hook up with some more mates. We dance our socks off till dawn, great birthday!

BA gave me an extra day in BA. I savoured every moment of the day. I walked around my favourite parts of the city, I had a 3 hour long coffee and shopping with Estefi and spent the evening pretending to know how to dance tango with Alex. But Saturday the 13th of August at 1 o'clock it was time for me to go. One more flight on my dog eared ticket. (Well, actually two, seeing BA were still on strike and sent me via Madrid with Iberia instead) The taxi driver who took me to the airport thought I was Argentinian. Needless to say I burst into tears when we drove past the flower, one of my favourite sculptures on the entire trip.

It's funny how things turn out sometimes. I was so down at the thought of going home, there was still so much more I wanted to see and do. My heart was screaming at me that I should rip up the ticket, stay, real life can wait.. But, loyalty to my bank manager (at 14.9%APR) and not wanting to miss my nephew's first day at school persuaded me to get in line. As faith would have it, behind me in the queue is a guy I recognised from a hostel. Both of us on our way home after 6 months with our feet off the ground. Next to us, on the last row, is a lovely German girl who's also heading home. Spending the next 14 hours together felt like a prolonging of the trip. We compared notes, laughed when we realised we'd been in Cusco at the same time during Inti Raymi festival, we watched some of the movies but were too eager to talk, we will probably never meet ever again. We hugged and exchanged email addresses in Madrid. My flight was the last to leave, almost 7 hours after arriving in Madrid. (I must confess to thinking they had the most extraordinary strange accents these lisp a lot.)

I arrived back at Heathrow, it was all too familiar. It was as though I had not been away. Yet it was all so strange. As if I had been away for an eternity. In the arrival hall I spot Adrian, my darling darling Adrian who I have missed so much. The best friend a girl could ever want! Tears? Oh, there were a few!!

The next day Madeleine and her brother arrive in London, Madeleine on her way to Tahiti to join up with Blaatur again, the boat that is going to be her home for 3 years as she sails around the globe. We last saw each other in Nasca, Peru. Tears? Oh, there were a few! It was just wonderful to see her again. I cannot wait to travel with her again in the future. We hook up with Bryan, it is as if the trip has not quite ended yet. We bore the others to death with stories and anecdotes until closing time. At the crack of dawn the next day it was time for me to go home-home.. Norway.

I had told a little lie to my parents, a tiny little white lie saying I was coming home later than what I was. I wanted to surprise them. Just walk up to the house and say 'hola.' Red eyed from not sleeping enough and not having any idea what time zone I am in I arrive back in Kristiansand to be greeted by Marie, her kids Emma, Mads and my mate Gregor at the airport. Then Marie drives me home.

My mother's surprised face was priceless. My parents had absolutely no idea I was heading home and little did I know they had been worried because they hadn't heard anything from me in the last few days (the curse of technology eh? We worry if there is no instant reply) Mum's face went through three stages of oh, OH, OOOHHHH !! before she came running towards me with her arms in the air. In the background my Dad closed his eyes, shook his head and grinned. Big hugs all around! Then out to my brother's house to see my nephews (and my sister in law and my brother of course. Spot the proud auntie eh?) More big hugs all around.

Two weeks in Norway were a whirlwind. My oldest nephew started school, I went to see an auntie, cousins, great-auntie, uncle. I probably saw more family in the two weeks than I have done in the past 2 years. It was brilliant. I hooked up with old mates, spent a spur-of-the-moment night with Kristin and her boyfriend in Oslo, saw Ingunn for 11 minutes while she was cooking Sunday dinner (and I must admit, she caught me eyeing up her kids' guinea pig. Don't think she was impressed or amused.) we spent an evening in Anne Kristin and Gregor's outdoor tub. Movies, coffees, great chats, laughter, wonderful friends, amazing family. It was good. The perfect end to a round the world trip.

And now I am here..
Back in London again.
Full circle.

I've been to the British Museum twice to admire the moai from Easter Island. The first time I walked in and saw him standing in a sterile, white room on a painted white box was probably the moment I realised the trip was over. There I was, having a lunchbreak on my fourth day, temping for 7.70 an hour filing and doing data entry for an internet company in Holborn. Looking up at a moai from Rapa Nui. This tiny dot on the map somewhere south in the Pacific that I now associate with the smell of eucalyptus, the wild and dark ocean crashing onto Anakena Beach, Clemente's contagious laughter, horses in the streets, Ivan's empanadas, the wonderful friends I made there and the magical and mysterious moais keeping a watchful eye on the island.

So, full circle, back at home. Back to earth. With a crash and a bang. When I flew back from Norway over London my adopted home city was baked in sunshine. Truth is there really is no place like home. Of all the hostels in all the world there are no pillows as delicious as my very own. The luxury of a bathrobe, a towel that doesn't smell, my own bed.. But home is also where the heart is, right? I've dropped off pieces of my heart everywhere I have been on this trip. Chunks here and there.

Truth be told I haven't actually unpacked yet...

After I came out of the job interview with the temping agency I got stuck in the lift. (Trust me!) Rather symbolic I thought, as I was sitting there between 2nd and 3rd floor, if I start working now will I get stuck back into it again? Will I become another grey face on the train in the morning, hiding behind my newspaper, not talking with anyone. I think I prefer an overcrowded Peruvian bus, music blaring, dvd player on too, where the school kids want to see your rings, you can hear chickens, you know they are there, but you can't see them, someone boards the bus selling popcorn, gelatina and cold drinks, the old lady next to you want to know who you are, why you are here, do you have a husband? isn't Peru beautiful, do you want a husband and will you come for dinner one night?

It was the trip of a life time.
Amazing memories that will stay with me, guarded in my heart.
Amazing people, a book full of phone numbers, email addresses and addresses.
I would to it all again tomorrow if I could, even the 16 hour bumpy bus journey after eating a very dodgy fish.

Before I start belting out 'We are the World' I am signing off.
My last 'Sensible Shoes' entry.
Thank you for keeping in touch, for telling me what you have been up to and for following me around.
How about we do another trip again soon?

And I mean, soon...
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