Well, here I am, sitting back in the exact same place I was about 10 months (thanks again for giving us your bedroom you-know-who), feeling very different than those days leading up to our departure. Unfortunately, I’m still incredibly stressed, though the reasons couldn’t be more different. It’s funny to think how apprehensive and unsure of the whole trip I was back then. Now, my worries revolve around jobs, apartments, and trying to relocate to Portland. But, more on thoughts about home later.
First, to fill you in on the rest of our trip. We did go to Otavalo on Saturday, and the market was indeed quite extensive, though I wouldn’t say impressive. While you could find every souvenir you wanted, and even some new ones, at much better prices than anywhere else I’d seen, I’m not sure it was worth the 2-hour each way bus trip for the day. However, the surroundings looked absolutely gorgeous and if we had had more time, I hear there is some amazing hiking nearby. Instead we spent every last non-US US dollar we had on llama paraphernalia, and even had time to have a late lunch at a seafood restaurant, savoring every last bite of ceviche and arroz con camarones. We still had time to spare and ended up back in Quito earlier than planned, not that I minded the extra time to pack. I even got a special seat on my final South American bus ride: up-front, next to the driver, right next to the door. What an honor. 😉 Meanwhile, Tyler was in the very back making friends with families.
Once back in Quito we had planned to eat at a particular restaurant, Mama Clorinda’s, and I had virtually planned out the entire menu in anticipation. Unfortunately, Tyler got carried away with WoW and the restaurant was closed when we got to it (in his defense, it did close early – 9 pm – for restaurants in the area, on a Saturday). Devastated, we found another Ecuadorian restaurant, more on the gourmet end of things, and had a nice meal. Highlight include coconut-encrusted fish and canelazos (a drink with passion fruit juice, cane sugar liquor, and cinnamon). And since we were late, I did get to see and hear the disappointment of Argentina being eliminated from the Copa America, as well as thoroughly pack, get rid of lots of things, and get ready for the early day to come.
Our flights home went fairly smoothly – we made it to the airport on time, and even got a good rate on the cab on the way there, not that we cared the slightest by this point. We checked into our flight just fine, and even though the first leg of our flight was only 1 hour to Lima, LAN served us a real meal, including glass glasses and real silverware! I didn’t even know that still existed. Our next flight from Lima to LAX was equally enjoyable: we each had individual TVs we could control and had a ridiculously huge variety of movies, TV shows, documentaries, music, and even games to play. Highlights include Tetris and the 30Rock pilot. The only downside, towards the end of the flight our stewards got confused and we almost missed our 2nd meal (yes, our secondmeal – craziness), they forgot Tyler’s drink order (free wine! free beer! free drinks!) once, and we never got our bon-o-bon’s, which were my favorite chocolate treat in South America. But, we also didn’t pay a single checked baggage fee, even for our connection from LA to Portland, so I’m trying not to hold it against them. In LAX we went through customs smoothly – there weren’t even that many lines and we hardly had to carry our big bags at all! We also finally got our hands on some real craft beer, yummy pizza from California Pizza Kitchen, and before we knew it we were off to Portland, so surreal.
We spent the first few days staying in the always lovely Rose City with friends, catching up on the year of cultural events we missed (that Friday, Friday, Friday song mainly) and trying to realize we were back in reality. Much to my joy, I didn’t get any serious migraines (just a few headaches) nor did I get sick! I think all the sleeping in, free tap water, delicious food and drinks, and kitten snuggles really helped, not to mention incredibly welcoming friends that we’re lucky to have. We had the opportunity to go to a Timber’s game, as well as look at a few possible apartments in the area, and cook dinner for everyone. I even baked a coffee cake because I was so overjoyed to see an oven I could use. And we got a free case of hummus and box of pita chips from anonymous sources. Good times.
Now we’re back in Salem, taking over the Wheeler household once again. Today we went to EZ Orchards for strawberry shortcake, and I spent ages looking at everything on every aisle; there’s actually pretty and interesting things on the shelves again! It hurts my brain to comprehend it all. I found a recycled cutting board, that the company will pick up from you when you’re done with it and re-recycle it. Its still crazy to me that things like that exist after coming back from living in the developing world for so long. Great idea; just seems frivolous after peeling yucca and potatoes by hand with no cutting board for 100 people every day, twice a day, for 2 months in the jungle, and it worked just fine.
In the meantime, my head has been swirling with the dozens of minute and macro tasks that need to get done: car insurance, registering the car in Oregon, opening 10 months of mail, opening the boxes we sent home (like Christmas! except the havanettes went bad, so sad!), Easter baskets, opening actual Christmas presents (I knew it!), activating credit cards, updating account info, cell phones, not to mention applying for jobs and looking for apartments, and trying to see friends, and family, all while bouncing around between 3 cities for who knows how long into the unforeseeable future. Tomorrow we go back to Portland to play with our grown-up friends on their days off; Sunday we’re back in Salem, Monday we’re running more errands (wash the car, change the oil, license plates, new glasses…), hopefully early next week I’ll have a job interview in Portland at an Immigration Services law firm downtown, and by the end of the week we’ll be in Seattle, hopefully getting Tyler a job back at J Crew, and perhaps taking all of our things and cat home if we can sort out alternative housing before then. Its funny relocating: to get a job you need a local address; to get an apartment you need a job…hopefully we can sort it all out soon.
This is not to mention all the oddities and strains of re-adjusting to American life. A lot has changed since we left: new music, friends with new jobs in new apartments, our niece can walk and talk and is pretty rad to hang out with now, its supposedly summer, its light past 6 p.m. Not to mention I keep wanting to throw my toilet paper into the trash bin and find it odd to buckle my seat-belt and use a cell phone. Tyler has fully immersed himself in WoW with the recent re-acquisition of his beloved laptop and high speed internet. We can call people now instead of emailing or Facebooking them. I still find an odd desire to photograph and document everything we do, then write about it, like we’re still traveling. There’s a lot of changes we want to make since being on our trip, and a lot we’ve learned we’ve yet to discover how to express and share.
I’ll probably keep the blog going…so feel free to unsubscribe if you’re not interested in hearing about our day-to-day life, or what recipe’s we’ve cooked lately, or our thoughts on the latest sermon at church. I’ll probably go through and change the format as well. Before that there will probably be a few more posts about processing being back in the States, as well as updates on our progress about relocating to Portland.
Until then, I hope this finds you all happy and healthy!