Thursday, June 3, 2004

home again, home again

Jacky and I flew out of Sydney on May 31, around noon, went up into the sunny skies and flew til we got to Taipei, Taiwan's main city, around 7 or 8 pm their time. (They are two hours behind Australia.) China Air provided us with a hotel room, and we'd been expected a room in the airport hotel that looked like a giant dingy cube, straight out of the Cold War. (When we'd come through Taiwan last year, on the way to Aus, we'd gone on a half-day tour of the city and passed by this very establishment, and a seasoned traveller near us said that was where China Air put up its' overnight transit passengers. We gulped, reminiscent of frightened teenagers in comic strips--yikes!) However, in the time since, China Air (formerly one of the worst airlines in the world) has been revamping its image, hiring new and good pilots, and apparently--putting up its transit passengers in the Miramar Lin-Kou Golf Country Club, and bussing them there in a special shuttle, through the squalor and happy chaos of rice paddies and small houses and Chinese temples.

It was wonderful to stay in a massive room with high-pressure shower, a balcony and a big TV with crazy Chinese shows and ads. Free brekkie and lunch the next day, and we clowned around on the golf course in 30-degree weather, striking ballerina poses on the 9th hole, while groups of Chinese golfers walked by and clapped for us. We stole the chopsticks and then high-tailed it out of there, going back to the airport and getting on the NY flight. We left at 5 PM June 1, flew ages and ages across the International Date Line, the Pacific Ocean, to Anchorage, Alaska, where we landed at 9 AM .. June 1. What? Yeah, I know.. Then flew some more, all the way across northern Canada, down to NYC, where we landed at 9 PM.. June 1! The day that didn't want to go away, June first was.

NYC was frustratingly expensive, we had to take a taxi to the Newark airport which cost 130$ American plus tip (yikes again!) and then the hotel room we had booked from Aus (and paying 200$ Aus for it) was, in short, a hole. We weren't sure what time our bodies were supposed to think it was, but it was midnight NY time and we hadn't eaten in ages. We were also broke, having spent all our money on the stupid taxi. Discouraged, we resigned ourselves to bed, until Jacky remembered.. the Tim Tams she'd packed in her suitcase! Tim Tams are an Australian biscuit (or cookie to you North Americans) which are constructed thusly: two pieces of biscuit sandwich between them some chocolate-flavored goo, and then the little dear is dipped in chocolate, creating a one-and-a-half-inch long, inch-wide piece of heaven. Honestly. We lay on the floor in rapture, polishing off three each (well, they were meant for her family...)

The next morning we dressed in our best, packed our bags and headed out to fly home. Air Canada was of course late and worrisome, but then it wouldn't be an Air Canada flight if it didn't in some way hint of bankruptcy, would it? We had to go via Montreal because the flight we'd booked 9 months prior was no longer running. Oh well. We were most likely the noisest people at the gate, waiting. I used the American fiver from my "collection of 5$ bills" (also includes Australia, Canada and New Zealand) to buy us a vibrantly-colored breakfast--Nacho Cheese Doritos and a King-Size pack of Reese's Peanut Butter cups. I noticed everything in the convenience store was marked King Size, is this new or American or what?

At the gate in Halifax we were met by our fan club: Mum, Mat, Carolyn, Ardelle, Alicia and Jacky's brother Brad. They all shrieked and rushed us like mad Beatles fans in the sixties. It was great, considering that Natalie McMaster* came out just before us and no-one said a word.

(*Note to anyone outside of the Maritimes: Natalie McMaster is our export fiddle talent, she has long curly hair and is supposedly well-known. Her wedding last year made the front page in the newspapers all over the province, much to the extent that Mary Donaldson's wedding inundated Aussie media, especially Tasmanian, a month ago.)

So: since then, it has been wonderful to be home. Absolutely fantastic, I count myself one of the luckiest people in the world. Back in my home with my loved ones, showing them photographs, getting reacquainted with my old bedroom, wearing different clothes for the first time in 6 months (!!!!), having the luxury that comes with having a house and a Momma and being back in your hometown, for better or for worse. It's always with some chagrin that I come home, to be sure, but that's what happens when you travel. Mum said, "You shouldn't travel, you know, because you come home and you're sad," but I'm not, entirely, and anyway it's really unavoidable.

I begin work near the end of the month, and before then I have to go to Fredericton and sort out housing for when I go to uni in the fall. And for now, I have to get some more sleep, catch up on my Z's, as it were. And take some echinacea!

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