Published: August 26th 2008August 20th 2008
After the Galapgaos we had 2 days back in Quito and in the nice hotel, this time in a room that appeared once to have been the garden shed but quite cosy once we got another heater! A torrential downpour on the first afternoon caused chaos in the city and blew the power supply in our area of town so candles were required in the hotel for an hour or two. Apart from that, nothing very exciting happened and we had rather lost our appetite for doing anything much other than think about all the things we had to do when we got back. And so on Wednesday afternoon we hopped in a cab for the short ride to Quito airport to start the long road home.
I won't bore you with all the discomfort and stress of travelling arising from apparently more passengers than seats on the plane (though the extras disappeared for take off and landing!), delayed flights (at Madrid - the crew has been delayed, then they had crew but the plane was broken....rather disturbing in the light of what happened at Madrid a few days later) and, for some reason, being unable to sit together on
the final leg to Manchester, despite the plane only being half full. But the Gods were smiling on us for the final stretch as our bags were second and third off the plane and we made it onto a train to Leeds with about 2 minutes to spare.
Arriving home was very strange and we ran around the house, reminding ourselves of the place and checking how the tenant had left it. Our fear of bedbugs meant we had decided to leave most of our stuff in the garage until we could wash it though this plan rather went awry when we discovered that all our advanced planning for our return had gone out of the window. We had asked the tenant if we could leave a bag of bedding in a cupboard so that we had somewhere to sleep the night we got back (all our other stuff being in store) but unfortunately the bag was nowhere to be found. We couldn't believe it! So, the first night in our own bed which we had looked forward to for so long and after a night on a plane, was spent wearing thermal underwear and fleeces on a bare
matress - needless to say, adding in jetlag we didn't get a lot of sleep.
That was over a week ago now and what a hectic week. We hired a van and fetched all of our stuff out of store. We took 2 trains and a bus to Maldon in Essex to collect the car (in H's parents' garage), had it MOTed (it started first time....with new battery) and serviced. We shopped for a dress for the wedding (successfully), went out for dinner with H's brother and family. Then there was Sunday lunch with my parents (and a 'Welcome Home' chocolate cake from my Mum!), a visit from my sister and nephews (who have grown so much in a year) and the evening do of the long awaited wedding where it was great to catch up with friends.
What has been most surprising is actually how normal it all feels and how distant the trip is beginning to seem. We've already enjoyed many of the things we've missed - our own bed, dressing gowns, good cereal, the Saturday Guardian, Radio 4, H's home made bread.....the list is long!
People keep asking us where our favourite place was. Of course there is no one answer to such a question - we have been to so many amazing places and met amazing people and there are many different reasons to like somewhere you travel. Looking back it has been a very special year with many highlights (and of course the occasional low!). We've talked about where we might go back to but that would be to see/do different things that we didn't do on this trip. And of course there's not much time to revisit places if we want to go to all those other places in the world that we still haven't been to! Our current favourites would be Japan, Laos, Guatemala and Argentina I think. For me some of the most special times we had were working with the children in Guatemala and Argentina and I hope to have similar opportunities in the future one day. But for now we have to face the reality of work, sorting out the house and garden (let's just say that the tenant and the letting agency between them don't quite do things to our standards.....) and settling back into a routine again. We have lots of plans for things we want to do here which should make it a little easier though I think when it starts getting cold and wet (like yesterday and probably tomorrow!) in the next few weeks it might really begin to sink in.
And of course many of the wonderful places we have been have been made more special by the people and I must say a big thank you to all of the people we met along the way for helping to make this year so wonderful. Amongst old friends there was Michael and Linda in Beijing, Tim in Tokyo and Anne and Andy in Sihanoukville (Cambodia).
And so many new people that I can't mention them all though I will give a special big thank you to the gang at El Nahual in Xela who really were wonderful, caring and talented people. And thanks to Gabi in Buenos Aires and Diep in Hanoi for showing us a little of their home cities. Both of us had some amazing Spanish teachers who for a few weeks knew more about us than any of our friends and families cos they kept making us talk! There's some people who we somehow managed to leave without getting contact details so if anybody comes across Jacks (surname unfortunately forgotten) volunteering somewhere in a orphanage in Bolivia then ask her to contact the blog. And one day we hope to bump into Vicki and Mark from Edinburgh, who we spent a drunken night with in the middle of nowhere in Northern Vietnam, when they come to Leeds to visit Vicki's family.
And so, all that's left is to say a big thank you to everyone who's been reading and commenting - hope we didn't bore you with too much detail. We even had another vote on the Cow Parade today, despite having already declared the winner, so it's good to see that people are still logging on.
As for future blogs? Well, we've no immediate plans for exotic locations but you can be sure we will be taking our full holiday quota this year so who knows.....
Big hugs to everyone and hope to catch up with you individually over the next few months.
Lots of love
S + H xx