Sunday 5 August 2012

Day 16 ~ Returning Home

It took quite a while to get to sleep last night even though we were packed and ready to go. While I didn't feel like any great change happen I knew within my heart things would be different for me; after all that's why I was doing this.
I'll share more another time but in short, work had become a literal a life sucking source. With the support of my family I was able to leave that work place in order to focus on my passion work. My children are amazing and growing more independent each day, as a parent would hope. And now....after almost 25 years of marriage my hubby and I can start to reconnect with each other again as we begin the next stage of our life. I've been away, pretty much, since June 18 solidifying and achieve skills to bring into my new career; and now I am finally going home! Maybe that is why falling asleep was so hard. What lies ahead?
6:45am came quite early. This was my second night with very little sleep and my tummy is feeling it. Still I push myself out of bed and head to the bathroom (W/C water closet as they refer to it here). Throwing up is never nice but there's something about doing it in a public place that makes it even worse. "Pull yourself together" I say, in an effort to encourage myself to feel better. As I clean myself up I turned on the shower and stand there as if I'm contemplating some grand next step. Yep...stepping into the shower. Which foot first? How high must I lift my leg to ensure I actually step in and not fall in? Slowly but surely I feel my blood starting to pump and my body begins to waken. And I enter the shower. Warm water messages my skin and scalp; almost tickling it as if to say wake up - great things are about to happen.
The shower does feels nice, but now I'm alert enough to know I have to keep moving. I'm already running behind my schedule. I finish up my bathroom routine and step out into the bedroom area. A gentle nudge to wake Elena and our morning has officially begun. Once cleaned and dressed, we go down for breakfast. We reflect over the past 18 days together. We recognize how we are very different and yet cherish the special friendship we share. We acknowledge this pilgrimage is the introductory section to what lies ahead as we return to the next phase in our lives. For our own reasons; in their own ways, Elena's and my life - together and apart - will never be the same. Again, it's what lies ahead that is both exciting and terrifying.
Back to our room, we go. We collect our belongings. Embraced in a hug of pure friendship, we share one last brief moment as this journey ends. We open the door to our hotel room, cross the threshold and confirm we've got everything. The door closes. In silence we wait for the elevator (lift) and then we're lowered to the main floor. We exit the elevator and walk to the reception counter where the silence is broken. We check out. Our ride to the airport is on its way, so we chat and watch the others as they come and go. Our ride arrives.
WOW!!!!! What a handsome ride he is. Emilo!!!!! Our bags are loaded into the trunk. I take the back seat (Spanish driving makes me VERY nervous) while Elena slides in beside the Emiiiiloooooo!!!! I just sat in the back enjoying the..... Well, he has a tattoo. These always intrigue me. Tats mean things to people and in those meanings you can learn a TON about a person. So.... I ask Elena to ask Emilo about his tat.... I won't bore you with all the details but.... on a trip to Australia he saw and learned about Tiki's. Being touched by what he learned he took a picture of a Tiki that he connected with and altered it to make it more personal for him. Then.....he made the decision to have that imagine permanently embodied on his upper arm. Three trips, 500e, and a lot of pain later his passion was an everlasting reminder on his arm. But hey, our hot tatted taxi driver was a little more 'normal' than the drivers we had had. He wasn't a speed demon taking out flocks of birds or threatening to take out anything else that moved either. He was aware and cautious of other drivers even giving the right away to those who were entitled to it BUT....for those 'Spanish' drivers I had come to know...he let them know they were in the wrong - when they were. This was the second ride I felt comfortable in. [The first was the lady who picked us up the day we arrived] Destination reached.
At the airport we waited and waited AND waited for the check in counter to open. Our time waiting wasn't a lost though. We learned how we could bring our walking sticks home. Elena had them wrapped and tagged while we waited. I think the cost was about 20e. It was then I read the email telling me my sister-in-law, Brenda, had passed away. The reality of life after the Camino was returning. Brenda's passing was expected. After many health battles, this soldier finally laid down her artillery in exchange for peace and comfort. Still for those of us she leaves behind.... there will remain a void. In a solemn mood I continued to wait for the gates to open. The noises around me seem to be echoes from a far off tunnel and around me people moving are blurs as I'm lost in my own thoughts.
The gates open and the line is moving. Finally we are up checking in our bags. AND....we get a new guy. Great. He's new. We're flying Air Canada and he doesn't speak English. I'm not feeling well physically or emotionally and I am DEAD TIRED!!!!! Still.....these are my issues, not his. I am still in Spain and I'm heading home so....I (or try to) maintain composer. Then I get hit with the first of many inconveniences headed my way thoughout the day. For 4kg over my allotted baggage weight I have to pay 75 (fricken) Euros. I could have repacked those 4 kgs as a carry on for nothing BUT that would have meant going to the end of the line and by this time our flight is 90 minutes before departure....which means boarding is in about 30 AND I had just stood in line for almost 50. I was not happy. I wanted to tear out his eyeballs. BUT.... I smiled and said...."Well it's not like I have a choice to pay or not now is it?" I handed over my credit card. And it was another 35e to have our sticks checked on as well. 110e grrrrrrrrrr. But done is done and off we go....
We grab a light bite, take in a couple last minutes shopping spots then visit the water closets for the last time as we head over to the gate. Boarding was uneventful and soon we found ourselves settling into our seats. The flight departure time is 12:40 Spain time and our ETA is 3:15 home time which means our flight is about 8.5 hrs. Especially for longer flights I try to scope out the other passengers for many reasons but mostly so I can get a feel for the energy on the flight. I knew we had some older people on this flight, a couple young children and the rest was a nice mix of everything in between. AND....a dog?!
Water and I have a love hate relationship; and I am afraid to fly over the water. After a flight over the Colorado’s mountains - turbulence equally terrifies me. For those of you who may not know this about me...I've flown planes in my younger days and while I'm sure things have changed.....the fact is, flying planes CANNOT simply pull over and wait for an emergency sdervice vehicle or let someone out. From take off to arrival you are on this plane. (well usually) I think we can all agree to this, right?!
With all this in mind, I mentally prepare myself for this long ride that will not be very comfortable. For most of the flight I will be over water and there is likely to be turbulence and so I surrender myself this. What I reminded of very quickly is Elena's need for space and a child's need to SCREEM. I put in my head phones and start watching a movie. Soon we are served a 'meal'.
Now, because we are flying back in time....our whole flight is in daylight even though, it's sort of 'evening' for us. Once the meal trays are picked up the airplane is dimmed. Many close their shades but, I'm nervous and choose not to. I fall asleep watching a second movie and waken to my shade closed. And so I open it. Now this mom, whose child has been screaming for 80% of the flight, asks me to shut it again because it's upsetting her child.
For the past four hours, I did not see this mother do anything to make the flight 'bearable' for this two year old toys, books, anything nor did I see this mom even take the child out of its seat and hold him or walk him around the plane and my blind being open is 'bothering' him????? I've heard the flight attendant tell Elena that the guy in front of her could recline his seat back as much as he cared to because he has the right to do that. We had to listen to this child scream for 80% of almost half way flight. I am terrified flying over the water. And so I thought...I too have rights and deserve to be comfortable on this flight just like everyone else does ----- in spite of that screaming child.
I pulled the blind down almost all the way but not fully - a compromise I thought. Later when I returned from the bathroom it was completely closed. Somewhat ticked, I thought well, I wasn't at my seat so no problem. Now this family was in the centre section, the row behind us. While we were in our seats, the brightness would be obvious - especially since the inside of the plane was almost completely dark but there had to be some blockage for the 'direct' brightness. Plus each of taking this flight had paid to be there, had the same rights to be comfortable and there were no rules telling us we MUST keep our window shades down.
My shade had been closed while I was away from my seat. The kid was still screaming and when got sat down, I opened my shade only enough so I could comfortably see out - about 2 or 3 inches, when the flight attended asked me to close it because it was bothering the child. I smiled at her and said as kindly as I could. "I'm sorry but, I'm terrified flying and having the ability to see where I am offers me some comfort so I don't panic. That's why I request a window seat. And, this child has been screaming for most the whole flight. I believe I have rights too?" By the look on her face, I knew she knew what I was saying. Could I have closed my blind...maybe, but I am nervous flying and being able to see where I am does comfort me. Had that mom, removed her son from the car seat and snuggled him. I am sure he would have fallen asleep. Would that have been uncomfortable for her - perhaps is HER son, not mine.
Soon we're over Newfoundland. I know we're close to being home (about 2hrs) and then.... the pilot comes over the sound system. There are severe storms in Toronto and we've been placed in a holding pattern. This could be an hour. At first people were ok with this. Until a few minutes later the pilot comes back on and shares while technology is good, Mother Nature still rules (go MN) and the airport has been closed so they're trying to reroute our flight. More info to come. Of course these messages are then restated in French and Spanish and I guess the message is not quite the same. Now people are getting ticked. As I scope the plane's passengers, I notice that mother holding her sleeping baby. While I listen to the passengers I'm thinking....chill out. At least the pilot hasn't said we're out of gas or an engine has failed or anything like that....I'm sure it all under control, they just need to work out the details AND the baby is no longer screaming so....SHUT UP!!!!!
Now the dog starts to bark. I had forgotten about the dog. We are just reaching the time, we should have been landing. The baby is finally sleeping. The dog lets its presences known every now and then. People are getting antsy.....and there is no final decision announced. Still, I don't see anyone who looks like they’re about to flip - this is good. The pilot's voice returns to the cabin to advise we will be landing in Montreal and every attempt will be made to find out what the situation is in Toronto and for those connecting to other flights and to see if those connecting to Toronto flights to Montreal...maybe they can get off while we're in Montreal.'d have thought these passengers were be given some great win fall with the possibility that they may be able to get out here. The pilot’s request was denied and all passengers will remain on the plain. We’re told we’ll be here for about 90 minutes.
The plain is refueled. We’re given additional snacks and then....about 40 minutes later we’re given the ok to head to Toronto. Everyone returns to their seats and we wait for our turn to take off. We learn the Toronto airport was closed – CLOSED for two hours during the storm. To me that means....many flights and hundreds of passengers as well as staff from all aspects of the flight world have had to have their plans changed. Understanding and compromise MUST be the behaviours practised in order for everyone to get through this will some sort of calmness. As well, those waiting to pick passengers up....they too have been sitting in the airports waiting and likely know even less what’s been going on so....they will be anxious as well.
Finally we arrive in Toronto but...there is no gate for us to taxi into. We’ll need to wait two hours at least. We’re advised all connecting flights have been missed or cancelled. The dog is barking. The child is crying....but we are on the ground in Toronto! Just as the flight crew was about to serve another snack (how many pretzels can one eat) the pilot has announced “Please return to your seats immediately. We’ve been allowed to jump the queue. A gate has been made available for us but we need to take it or we’ll lose it.” People scurry back to their seats as the plane begins to move. A melody of clicking seat belts fills the now silence. At 8:30pm we are exiting the plane....finally!
Our 8.5 flight has turned into almost 12hr duration. Exhausted, frustrated, hungry, confused and some even worried – people head through customs then to baggage claim. Finally space to walk; air to breathe and even a few bathrooms to freshen up in.
Shortly after getting my luggage I am standing beside the best friend I have in the whole world. I’m so glad to be with my hubby again. Behind us, Elena walks Cam. Each of us talking to the other and....we agree to stop and get a bite before returning home to our children. All seems right with the world again....
It’s after 11:00pm and I’m finally in my home. My eldest is at a friend’s cottage so, for me, my family isn’t whole yet. Hopefully, I’ll finally get a good night sleep. I’ll take a down day and then, return to compose a post home blog message.
Apparently, posting a comment was more complex than I thought; and I apologize for that. For those of you that would like to send me a comment but don’t have my email address, you may send them to me at
Thank you for your continued support; for your kind words and your willingness to journey with me.
Wishing you an abundance of blessings each and every day.... Hugs, Carleana

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