Day 15 – Back to Home Plate
Lima to Miami is an overnight flight that boards at 1:06 am. My twenty-two pounds of camera gear feels like ninety when it is time to get it down from the overhead at 7am this morning. The four of us, on this leg, meet at the luggage carousel and wait somewhat impatiently for our hoped for luggage last seen in Iquitos many moons ago.
Immigration is mechanized but I swear I do not look like the black and white photo on my immigration card. All I can say is that there must have been some similarity that I was missing for those with open eyes because the process proceeded without a hitch.
Ron, Janis and Erika head for the car-park and their trip back to Bradenton, Florida. Carol and I head, hopefully, to the airport hotel. We are re-buffed as we are too early to check-in. This seems to be a strange feature at an airport hotel!
Airport waiting is airport waiting. It is to be avoided but when push comes to shove there is no choice but to suck it up and try to smile. We guard the luggage, take trips to the washroom, window shop, eat and eventually head to different gates for our flights to Toronto. Yep, I just want to go home.
The sky train takes me to Gate 5. There is no visible sign of increased security in this airport despite the deadly incidents in Paris this past week, and the upcoming American Thanksgiving long weekend.
I purchase a sandwich – $10.25 US for one ham and gold, I mean cheese sandwich. We board at 12:05 pm just in time to hear the captain say “The overheads will hold three skate boards end to end and you can put coats on top!” I try to find the energy for the humor.
My seat is by the window. I am captive so I fall in and out of sleep for the length of the three-hour flight. My seatmate decides to comb her hair for the hundredth time as we are landing She has just gone to the first class washroom even though we are in steerage. Then to complete her preparation for meeting family and friends she generously sprays herself with perfume which, though not bad smelling, prompts the lady behind me to have a full out asthma attack. It’s a good thing we are nearly at the terminal as the lady bolts to the front of the plane in search of air.My seat mate doesn’t get it!
Amidst all of this I am still trying to get someone to bring me a custom’s form. Apparently there are none left. Nonetheless, I am really, really glad to be home…or almost home. I’m pretty sure they will let me stay even though I do have nuts and berries in my handcrafted souvenirs. I hand my declaration to the young customs officer and she, after questions and further thought passes me through.
In Toronto, it’s about 40 degrees F with light clouds. I don my raincoat and follow my Ontario Coachways driver to the van. I’m armed with a coke and a chocolate bar .(The Timmy’s line was too long.) I point out that I have been up for 37 hours and ask for a short update. “Has anything good happened in the last two weeks”, I ask. A two-hour chat with a knowledgeable man finds me in my driveway.
As I put the key in the lock and push open my back door, I realize even in my sleep deprived state that I have changed. To be a traveler is to anticipate and welcome opportunity and opportunity challenges me. If I returned the same as I was when I stepped out of my door, I might as well have stayed at home.
Now begins the task of understanding the difference based on my time in Peru.