Maine, United States

Home for the Holidays

December 24, 2021 – January 5, 2022

Unlike last year, this holiday season I made the trek back to the United States. It started off rocky between COVID restrictions in the US and the countries I was connecting to other flights in. A week before I was set to leave, I was notified that Morocco had closed their borders, which is where I had my connection to NYC. As such, I had to find a last minute flight and deal with lining everything up. Additionally, the US changed their COVID test requirements to be one day before, not three. Sometimes finding flights and getting to your destination is easy, and sometimes it’s truly a puzzle to piece together.

The beginning of my adventure started with my last day at school before the break, where I was able to finish up a handful of Christmas activities with the students. After, I was invited to a lunch with the other teachers where I tried asiático coffee for the first time (a special alcoholic coffee beverage native to Cartagena) and some tinto de verano for some Galician nostalgia.. After quite a few hours sobre la mesa and wandering around looking at Christmas lights, I had to leave to get my COVID test at the nearby lab.

By the time that was finished, it was time to go back to my apartment, clean, and finish packing. Usually I only travel with a carryon, but I had many souvenirs to bring back to gifts (including liquids), so I had no choice but to check a bag. I was immediately inconvenienced by it before I even got out of my apartment.

While I have an airport a few hours from me, Alicante, I chose to fly directly out of Madrid again. Namely because most flights from Alicante connected through Madrid anyway. The train schedule did not line up to get me to the airport in time for my flight, so I had to take the bus. This takes longer and the first one of the day leaves at 11:00 PM the night before and arrives around 5:30 AM. I took my bags and walked to the bus station (bad idea with a suitcase, I would’ve been worth the taxi fare).

After 6.5 hours, I arrived at the airport. I was mega early and ironically this time going through security was a breeze. This was unlike my trip to Porto where I barely made it through and was running to my gate. I settled down with some breakfast and my computer and watched Hulu for the next few hours. I did not sleep at all on the bus ride and had a terrible experience being nauseous and squished, so I was dragging by the time I arrived at the airport. And only 10 out of my 30+ hour trek had elapsed!

I had a connecting flight through Paris (which is backwards from the direction I’m going). The flight was about two hours, and thankfully was not very delayed. I only had a 1 hour connection in Paris, which I typically like to have 2 hours to have wiggle room. I was nervous the whole time leading up to getting there. I was so sleep deprived I dozed off a few times on the Paris flight but mostly remained wide awake and nervous about the connection.

When we landed, I had a total of 40 minutes to deboard, go through border patrol and passport inspection, take the shuttle to my terminal, walk to the gate, and board. To say I was speed walking is an understatement. Thankfully my bag was checked through, so I didn’t have to collect it or re-check-in. On my way to the shuttle, I stumbled upon three other people also going on the Boston flight. I had carefully studied the airport map for Charles De Gaulle airport and the recommended path to get between terminal 2F and 2E. They quickly joined me as I lead us through the twists and turns. We made it just in time!

The flight was quite uneventful minus a few minutes of turbulence. I had never flown with Air France, but I had no problems and will fly them again. I watched the rest of the new Cruella movie and a few downloaded shows on Netflix. Because the flight was during daytime and going backwards in time, it stayed bright the whole flight. This mixed with my lingering nervousness from earlier and getting to the point of sleep deprivation where you can’t sleep, I stayed wide awake the whole flight. But, I survived.

Thankfully with the last-minute switch of flights, I landed in Boston versus New York. Because of this, I didn’t have a connecting flight to Portland and took the bus back instead. First, I grabbed my bags, took an airport selfie, went outside, remembered how damn cold Maine is, and waited for my bus.

After arriving in Portland, I was met by my dad and my dog, Sage. She didn’t recognize me at first but warmed up quickly after I unbundled. We drove the hour home, and I stepped through the door at exactly 31 hours of traveling! I had a lot of Sage snuggles and took dozens more photos, but here are my favorites.

My brother, Erik, and my mom were awake, and we spent some time catching up. It didn’t take long before I was ready to sleep. Erik was also still dealing with some jet-lag and being out of sorts, so we didn’t do our Christmas celebration until late on Christmas day.

Here are a few other highlights of what I did in my nearly two week visit home.

Saw my friend Sarah and had my first coffee in three months:

Got my hair dyed:

Donated blood with my dad:

Went to the Maine Celebration of Lights with my family:

Honorable mentions that I don’t have photos from include seeing family friends, watching a whole lot of Netflix (finished the entire Workin’ Moms series and a few movies), much time playing with Sage, and connecting. Erik lives 3000 miles to the west, and I live 3000 miles to the east. Needless to say, having us all under the same roof was a blessing.

Erik left for Boston and ultimately back to California on December 31st. We said our goodbyes and parted ways. I was originally supposed to fly on January 2nd but decided to delay my flight to have some more time at home.

We cherished the extra four days we had together, and then we packed up for the trek down to Boston. After our goodbyes, I was on my way back to the Iberian peninsula.

As soon as I was through the door, I got an email that my flight was delayed two hours! So, here I am, still awaiting boarding, at my airport terminal. I’ll be flying into Paris and then connecting to Barcelona, where I’ll be staying for three days before returning to my city. Thankfully, I have a 3.5 hour layover in Paris, so this delay won’t (or shouldn’t) cause me to miss that. Next time, you’ll hear from me in Barcelona!

Until then!

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