So I'm home. Finally. It was a long trip made even longer by a delay in DC. I was supposed to go Almaty-Frankfurt-DC-Savannah. But instead we went Almaty - Astana (but we didn't get off the plane) - Frankfurt (6 hours) - Washington... So in Washington we got in 15 minutes late which made my hour and half scheduled flight very unlikely. Compounded by the fact that the woman in Almaty only checked my baggage through to DC instead of to Jacksonville (meaning I had to go recheck my bags and go back through security) and it was likely that I would not be making my flight.
Despite this, I was giddy when I landed. I saw the flag as I was landing and tears almost came to my eyes. Two years and five months. I swear the ground just felt sturdier walking on Ameican soil. I was home.
I cleared immigration really quickly, but I was flagged for customs because I was bringing in horse meat. At customs, they just asked me what I was bringing in. I said horse meat in cans. They check the computer. Nope, no current regulations due to equine flu. Horse meat allowed! I only have two cans though, so I don't know whom to share it with.
Now I have to recheck my bag, and my flight boards in about five minutes. The woman at that desk is honest with me. It looks like they've rebooked me and I have to get tickets for tomorrow morning. I go up to the ticketing booth considering how I'll contact Brian to see if I can crash at his place for the night, when I meet an angel at the ticket counter. She looks at my trip and says maybe, maybe she can get me home tonight if I'm ready to travel. DC - Cincinnati - Charlotte - Savannah. I'll be home at 11:30. If there's one thing I'm bad at doing, it's not doing anything. If given the chance of just sitting and waiting or doing something, I'm always doing something. Plus, I wanted to get home. She booked me tickets and I was off on my way.
Once I got to the gate, I borrowed someone's phone to call my family. I had asked a couple earlier just when we got off the Frankfurt flight, but they also didn't have a local phone. They recommended I just dial the country code or something on my phone. Right, that'd be great if I get Beeline signal here. So I called the house. Or tried to. The phone the guy handed me was an Android touch phone thing. I had no idea how to turn it on. Wouldn't just touching the screen make sense? Nooo, you had to press some switch on top. So he turned it on for me and I called home. No answer. Did they already leave? Call the cell phone. No answer. I leave a voice mail. And then continue on my journey.
Cincinnati (where I eat a sandwich, first meal in America Roast Beef vegetable sandwich (DELICIOUS. Sandwiches are amazing.)), then Charlotte (with rocking chairs. As I was racing through the airport, I had to sit down in one for just a few seconds. WHY are these not in Kazakhstan. People there would love them, I'm pretty sure.) In Charlotte, I call home and talk to my mom. I find out she didn't get my voice mail until after my first flight landed. So they were waiting there and really sad when I didn't get off the plane. She still didn't call the voice mail, but she did notice a missed call from a random number. So she called the guy whose phone I used and he told her that her son was flying around the country trying to get home tonight.
Then finally, the final flight. 32 hours later I was home. Home! My mom was holding a sign and I almost cried. Home! Home! Home! And even one of my bags made it on time (but not the one with the horse meat). The steak dinner I requested was not fulfilled (yet), so I was given to choices: Waffle House or Krystal. Since my family admitted to eating Krystal on the way back from the airport the first time (without me?! what?), we went to Waffle House. Sweet tea, waffle, and hash browns (smothered, covered, diced, and peppered).
Tomorrow I'll blog about reverse culture shock. It's so happening to me.