traveling HOME…well, sort of

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Sorry about the LONG silence on the website.  We actually went home for two weeks…well as much as you can go “home” when you no longer have a physical home.  We were all in San Francisco together for about 24 hours.  Here we are THRILLED to have reach the US after an unbelievable five day journey back to the US.

The long 5-day journey home

How can it take 5 days to reach the US??  Well, first we had to get back to Tokyo by train so we could fly out Seoul where the flights are cheaper to the US, then changing planes in Beijing (again cheaper flights!).  Unfortunately, our flight was delayed to Beijing so we had to stay in China for 24 hours until the next flight.  The hotel they put you in when your flight is delayed is an adventure in and of itself.  The “flight delay” people get a cheap buffet, while the regular customers get a much better one.  Cheap as I am, we paid for the better buffet for breakfast, as I didn't want to eat leftovers from our sub-standard dinner the night before at the hotel :-)  The girls slept through breakfast…hoping to just sleep their way through anything until we were back in the US.

Trying to get back into the country…smuggling just a few things ;-)

But, Alas, we were finally, FINALLY on the plane to San Francisco!!  We were so excited…extra screening because the plane was headed to the US? no problem!  We went through immigration and customs (straight to the US citizen line!!) and the agent wanted to know where we had been and for how long…uhhh…that would be a long answer. Did you have any prescription drugs we bought outside the countries (yes, actually, bottles full as they were cheaper outside the US and my insurance company had given me such a hard time we couldn't get them before we left) “no, Sir, no prescriptions”.  How about food? (well, we have a shitload of food as we are bringing back tons of gifts and some are foods from other places, Japanese Pocky, interesting snacks, etc…and particular food you are interested in?) when you hesitate, it really seems like you must be lying.  Do you have any statues? (well, let me think…I bet we have some, do you mean ancient, looted from an archaeological site…no, no, just the kind you can get hand carved out of wood, etc…could he be suspicious of bugs coming in with a wood statue?)  We were also smuggling the laser pointers Alex was bringing back to his friends…in Dubai, he had one confiscated and in China his checked bag was tagged as suspicious.  When they searched it, the guy ignored the laser though, and took some empty shells from the shooting range in Cambodia (which i am pretty sure are legal, I guess it pays to have a decoy).  Several other questions and follow-up questions made me nervous, until finally, with a huge smile, he said “welcome back home!” and let us pass.

Of course, Meagan came next and he only smiled at her and let her go right through with a big welcome – I guess I look more suspicious :-)  We were all in!  Whoo-hoo!

The only thing better than leaving on a round the world trip is coming back from one!!

I know many other families and couples intend to travel for a year and just keep going…not us…we were all thrilled to come home.  Seeing other countries and meeting other people is fabulous.  It's even better if you can try to do some good in this little world of ours, but having a home and a community is even better.  It's one of the things I have learned on the trip – a strong sense of community is one of the things that makes people happy.

Comforts of home

The next two weeks in the US were bliss…enjoying all the comforts of home, like being able to communicate ANYTHING we wanted and understand everything people were saying.  Hot showers, towels, a place to put our stuff, no check out time, a WASHER and DRYER, oh yeah!!  Though, I have to say, my clothes fared better with all the hand washing and line drying.  It's the little things in life that really make you happy!

Meagan headed off to Salt Lake City to see friends and family.  Jennifer went to Olympia to see one of her best friends for a while before she heads to NY to see her Dad and other family.  Alex and Bella and I explored San Francisco, which is to be our new home beginning in late summer (we have another project coming up in Belize).

stepping out!

The very first night we arrived, Doug and I got to go to the American Conservatory Theater Gala for the Opening of Tales of the City – what a way to spend my first night back in the US!  The play is terrific.  If you live in San Francisco, or are visiting before the end of July, go see it!

ready to step out in SF after an all night flight from China

SF is beautiful! We took this picture from Baker Beach.

First trip to Mel's Drive In

Ghirardelli Square

We also got to celebrate Doug's daughter May's birthday before Alex and Bella headed back East to see their dad and their friends, grandparents and other relatives.  The flew all by themselves (I'm proud of them and all they have learned over the past year!), lugging along a huge bag of presents for the people we've missed SO MUCH!

It's GREAT to be back on the US, and great to be with my sweetheart after spending so many months of the past year apart.

Belize – amazing excavation of a Mayan Tomb, new roof for a school and 1,200 books collected by students in NC!

But we only had two weeks and then we headed off to Belize where Doug is excavating a Maya tomb and I am working with students at the Succotz School in Succotz, Belize.  In partnership with Davidson Day School in North Carolina, we will donate 1,200 books and put a new roof on the school!  The high school students from Davidson Day are also conducting the excavation and research and are having the time of their lives.

Love to all and sorry for not posting in such a long time.  I'll write about Belize soon! We are already here and it is quite an adventure…wait until you read what's been excavated from the tomb!!

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Posted on: June 26, 2011 | Categories: looking back - home friends etc, News, USA, What travel has taught us

 

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