Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It's always an adventure on travel day.

I will break this last day up by events of the day in one post, and then some closing thoughts in the next. I promise it's almost over!

August 16, 2010

I didn't sleep well last night. It didn't take me very long to pack, but I was just restless. I always am the night before traveling anywhere. I also finally encountered the cockroach that has been rooming with me all summer; now he has the place to himself.

I woke up around quarter after 5. After my triple check that I didn't forget anything, I head over to the church to light a candle for our safe travels. One of the girls beat me there and had three candles lit--one for each returning missionary. We saw a few of the kids this morning, and some teary goodbyes.

When the van was all packed, Madre Ivonne took us to the airport at 6:30am. Father Mathias accompanied us as well. It was nice to receive a final blessing before leaving the country.

We had no trouble getting through security. When I was in line to check my bags, I was talked to this woman who is visiting her granddaughter who was just born yesterday! May God's grace touch the life of baby Alec and her family! She asked me my purpose in Guatemala, and I explained that I lived at the hogar for the summer months. She questioned me about what drives me to do such things and what I was studying in school. I explained to her, as I always try to get across, that I think this is God's will for me and that I am blessed to have the opportunity to help others. I was blessed with suck a full and loving childhood, the least I can do is share some of the love my parents and family bestowed upon me. She thanked me profusely for doing God's work and said that she hopes my example inspires others to do the same. This is of course never why I do things, but it is nice sometimes to see that others appreciate our help.

We had a nice final breakfast of Guatemala sandwiches at a cute cafe called Cafe Gitane (Gypsy Cafe). Tropical drinks and coffees included, we spent less than Q100 total (that is less than $13 for 3 full meals)! We got to the gate around 7:45 and had some time to talk before Anya and John boarded their flight to Dallas. My flight didn't leave until 11:40, but Madre could only make one trip to the airport. We were comparing visas and stamps in our passports. Anya has been to the Middle East so she has some interesting stuff in her passport. I was explaining how "offical" the Ecuadorian Consulate in Newark was and how they used an Elmers glue stick to paste the visa in my passport. I really enjoyed this past month with the Thetford siblings. John goes to Duquesne, like Jacqui, so I am sure I will see him again. I hope I can visit the monastery when Anya is there in the future.

I landed in Miami around 4pm EST. My next flight didn't start boarded until 8, so I had plenty of time to make it through customs and get dinner. When I got in line for aduanas, Illuminations was playing! This is the music from Michael's favorite live show in Disney World. Anticipating bad attitudes and nasty TSA officers, I was pleasantly mistaken. Everyone was very friendly and my officer even spoke Spanish with me while he was processing my paperwork! I faced no problems, had my bags rechecked, and was on my way in less than 20 minutes total. Craving pizza all summer, I sought out to fill my hunger. I joked with the kids all summer, though it was not entirely inaccurate, that I "tengo ganas para pizza siempre." I earned the nickname Laritza Pizza, which is quite suitable. Of course, the pizza is on the opposite side of the concourse, but I had more than enough time to kill. 2 slices of horrible airport pizza, a small caesar salad, and one very satisfied Larissa later, I return to gate D38 to await departure for Newark.

So of course, the Hatch luck is always on the flip side. The flight attendants for flight 1382 just landed from Aruba and were acting as if they were still on vacation. They didn't show up at the gate until about 30 minutes past expected departure time. That gave me the opportunity to read "El Principito." As I was finishing it up, a lady next to me saw what I was reading and we began talking. And thus begins my last legit conversation of the summer in Spanish. Lillian and her 13 year old daughter Sarita (like the Guatemalan icecream) from Nicaragua were heading to visit her husband in Philly for a few weeks before school started.

Once we finally boarded, we hit more problems. There was a lightning storm hovering above Newark, so we had to wait that out. Thanks to one of the Founding Fathers and his kite experiment, we know not to mess with electricity. If that's what happens with a key, imagine how powerful it is with an airplane! In the meantime, I watched Shrek 4 in spanish. We did fly over the Jets stadium, which was pretty cool (especiall since they played today). When we finally landed, everyone clapped for Captain (I kid you not) Wally Walter's excellent job.

I was finally reunited with my mom, dad and sister at baggage claim around midnight. Jac and I had DnD breakfast sandwiches and caught up with some GloZell impressions (check her out on youtube). On the drive home, we played with the talking features in the car to make it speak spanish. Dad had a fight with the mechanism when she wouldn't play the song he was telling her to. It feels so good to be laughing and talking with the ones I love most again.

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