Sunday, 19 July, 2015. Day 333.
Re-Entry and Repatriation.
In the wee hours of our 333rd day of travel, we checked out of our Montreal hotel and took a taxi to Pierre-Elliot Trudeau Airport for the final flight of our trip—back to the United States of America.
What we found really interesting is that we cleared U.S. immigration while we were still in Canada. We hadn't experienced anything else quite like this during the rest of the trip, but the process certainly made arriving in the United States a lot easier. We were flying into Dallas, Texas, then catching another plane to Palm Springs, California. Officially entering the United States while we were still physically in Canada saved us from possibly missing our connecting flight.
Air travel had gotten pretty routine for us, and this two-plane jaunt into the U.S. was pretty much like any other. Except for the passengers—who seemed to be a lot pushier and much more demanding than other places in the world—and how our luggage was treated.
We'd put our luggage through a lot of harrowing situations during the course of the trip, like almost falling into Halong Bay in Vietnam, but it was in Palm Springs—the very last possible place for it to happen—that our luggage was damaged.
Our first two bags, our twin Eagle Creek Gear Warrior 32 rolling duffles, emerged from the luggage chute almost immediately. But our Patagonia Black Hole bag (the bag holding all our clothes), was noticeably absent. We waited for a long time. And I mean a painfully long time. Finally, after all the other passengers had left the baggage carousel and we were gearing up to file a lost bag claim, our wayward duffel tumbled down the baggage carousel, looking a lot like it has been run over by a truck in the rain—probably because it had.
The outside was ripped and torn with numerous gaping holes. But thankfully, the stuff inside the bag was mostly intact—the only real casualty was the mesh bag we'd been using for dirty laundry. We found an airline employee and showed her what had happened. Without question, she agreed the bag was damaged beyond repair and gave us a new suitcase. So our beloved and reliable Black Hole bag was replaced by some generic, low-quality roller bag. It was a bit of a disappointment and an interesting welcome back to the United States.
Once that ordeal was over, we picked up the rental car and drove to the Airbnb we'd be staying in for seven days. Then, 334 days after we'd departed for Costa Rica, we woke up in the United States for the first time.
There's not all that much to do for seven days in Palm Springs in July (it's very hot that time of year), but we wanted to wind down and acclimate back to life in the United States before we officially rejoined society. So we didn't do all that much. We ate at a few restaurants. We shopped at a few stores. We went to a few movies. We tried to play tennis, but it was way too hot. Mostly we just relaxed around the apartment (and the pool), enjoying the calm before the whirlwind of Los Angeles.
When we returned to Los Angeles, our house was still rented out through the end of September, so we extended our nomadic lifestyle a little longer by staying in two different Airbnb apartments in Pasadena. Oddly (or maybe not), the were two of the most problematic Airbnb apartments we'd stayed in over the past year. Again, a dubious welcome home.
We found it sort of odd returning to and living in the city you call home and not be able to actually go home. so we were happy when, after two months and much to the relief of our neighbors, our tenants moved out and we finally, returned to our Los Angeles home. It seemed a lot bigger than we remembered.
We'd successfully circled the globe, but the hardest part of our journey lay ahead of us—repatriating to a conventional Western lifestyle after a year of nomadic living.
We're still working that out.