This morning I had my breakfast with Margie, Marcia and Tracy. It was sort of sad to think that tomorrow we will all be back at our homes, going about our usual routines without each other’s company. But it has been a good, no, awesome, ten days and we are all thankful for that, I know.
I had the usual breakfast at this hotel: cocoa crispies, OJ, assorted pastries with peanut butter and jelly and today, homemade yogurt. We agreed to meet for goodbyes shortly before our transfer took Marcia and me to the airport.
Regarding the suitcase crisis, I conferred with Dan and Naomi, who have also done a lot of world travel, and they agreed that I could probably get away with one very overweight bag. I decided to gamble and gave my new second piece of luggage to Margie, who needed another carry-on. I was hesitant to see what would happen when I tried to check my big sucker in.
Stanley arrived and so did our van. Marcia and I said our goodbyes to Dan, Naomi, Margie and Tracy. I really hope I get to see them all again somehow someday, even if it is not panda related. For now I'd just like to think that it's not goodbye, but just so long until we see each other again. I'd really like to think that.
The trip to the airport was quick and Stanley helped us check our bags in. Miracle of miracles, my now 27.4 kg (60.28 lb) bag went through without so much of a second look, or surcharge! Yee ha! I skated through immigration and customs happy as a lark. Honestly, I worry too much. I know that.
The only flies in the ointment today were the four bottles of Gatorade I bought near the gate (after security) aren’t allowed on this flight, so I have nothing of my own to drink, and I’m left to the devices of the flight crew to keep me hydrated. Bah. And we departed nearly an hour late due to a “problem with the cockpit window”, but the pilot seems convinced we’ll only be 15 minutes or so late into San Francisco. Go figure.
Our first meal was served and I inhaled the first Western food I have had in 11 days (ok, forget I told you about the McDonald’s cheeseburger!). It probably wasn’t even very good, but it was beef in tomato sauce, some sort of au gratin potato, two little slivers of carrot, salad with thousand island dressing and some light lemon cake with raspberry sauce. I did not leave a scrap of it. I even ate the roll with butter. Oh butter, how I have missed you!
I made it through that flight fine, the transfer at San Fran was fine until the Immigration officer said "Welcome home, young lady," which made me cry. I'm not sure if those tears were because I'm tired and homesick or because I am old enough to be the officer's mother. Young lady? Yee ha!
The longest part of the trip home I have to say was San Fran to Boston. That was interminable. Full flight, annoying seat mate, impossible sleep, low battery on the iPod.
But finally, I was delivered home some 28 hours after I left Shanghai, greeted by another furry four-footed wonder who was happy to see me. I'd do it all again in a minute...