Making it Home For Christmas

Here is the story of how things can go wrong and life along the way.

I had been harboring this secret for far too long. A secret between mother and daughter that had been contrived one day in October and was finally coming to pass- coming home from Spain for Christmas break.

Let me first begin by saying that making it home is absolutely painful (but of course that pain is forgotten once arrived). And because I find traveling to be a story in itself, I shall now recount the events of my journey in a sporadic, nonsensical way, full of sarcasm and humor.

Wednesday morning I went to work, so up at 7, school all day, private lessons, catching the bus back to Calahorra and arrival at 7:40 pm. Scramble to finish putting myself together to travel for an absurd amount of hours. Catch the bus at 8:45 pm to Logrono. Wander the streets with luggage until the 1 am bus (and drink quite a bit of wine while trying to seek shelter).

Side Story: We witnessed a poor soul from Michigan who had not known he had to buy the overnight tickets in advance and was destined to miss his 11:40 am plane from Madrid when the bus driver refused to allow him to board. It was a sad situation to try to rectify, and even sadder considering my infinite trust and love of the bus system. See one of the existing horror stories of my train experiences.

Bus arrival in Madrid at 6:30 am. Flight at 10:40 am. 8 hours. Though shout-out to Delta. The flight attendant took one look at me and decided to be liberal with the free wine. We became friends and each time he made a round, he made sure to put a little splash in my never emptying cup.

I also became friends with a mother and son in the row with me. They were heading to New York to look at colleges because he wanted to spend a year at one and learn English. It was also his first time flying and the excitement of his mother was adorable. Note, her son was well into his teens and did not wholly love her excited attentions, but I thought it was adorable. We talked in Spanish and as we landed in the US she gave me a kiss-kiss on the cheeks and told me to have a wonderful time being home. I always, always meet the kindest strangers on planes.

Then, touchdown in New York.

Side story: One of my favorite parts about returning to the United States of ‘Merica is when I go through customs and they look at my passport, look at me and say, “Welcome home, Ms. Reilly.” The world traveler in me swoons at these words and I’m sure I will never get tired of hearing them.

Side side story: ****Despite my vast, infinite knowledge of ‘the system’ I failed to realize that I would have to gather my luggage to go through customs, recheck it, go back through security, and run for my flight in an hour and a half layover. Thank you NYC for making me break a sweat and giving me a series of miniature heart-attacks.

I would also like to take a minute to inform each and all that a “Fragile” sticker does nothing for your luggage. In fact, I believe it invites violence to your luggage. But despite the failure to acknowledge my sticker, my quadruple bagged bottle of wine made it across the ocean. Intact. High fives all around.

So where are we? Oh, yes, JFK.

I made it, to the plane, after sprinting. Went to the wrong gate because they decided to put Dulles departures and Reagan departures right next to each other. Hilarious. “I’m sorry, Ms. Reilly, but your ticket did not scan.” Pause. Blink. “So…” “Oh, yep, that’s because you are one gate over, departure to Dulles.” “Oh, why thank you so much.” Stomps over to the other gate and gives the airport ceiling a cringe-worthy eye-roll

Board small airplane. Turns out we are 18th in line on the runway. Thirty minutes later we must return to the gate because an engine light has gone on. But instead we unload onto a bus on the runway. Wait. And two hours later we are up in the sky.

JFK, do you realize that I made it across the Atlantic Ocean without this kind of trouble and you can’t make it 48 minutes down the coast?

But I made it home. Picked up some Chipotle (the American’s know) and arrived at 7:30 pm Thursday evening.

Further stories of surprises, Christmas, and the glory of the USA to come