After 16 days traveling to and through India, we were finally heading home! But first we had to get through the longest flight of the trip, and it felt about double as long as it actually was. It would not be an over-exaggeration to say I was hanging by a thread mentally at this point. I didn’t want to eat, I didn’t want to sleep, I didn’t want to watch a movie or even talk to anyone. I just wanted to be home. And it was still so far away.
When our plane landed at the Amsterdam airport, I started feeling a little better. There were actually places to stand where no one else was standing, which seems like such a minor thing until you’ve traveled in India and you understand what a novelty personal space is. Our layover before we caught our flight to Detroit was a few hours long, so we decided to explore before going to our gate. Luckily, the Amsterdam airport has a lot to offer, so the time flew by.
The Amsterdam airport has tons of shops and cool-looking cafes, a casino and a kids playground, as well as a library with comfy chairs to rest in, but don’t plan on actually reading anything unless you know Dutch. The thing I enjoyed the most here was the art museum on the second story, though. It’s small, but there’s a lot to look at and read if you’re trying to pass the time. It’s also the quietest place in the whole airport, so that alone is worth the visit!
On the way to our gate, I saw the strangest-looking machine. It took me a while to figure out that this thing actually holds a person! After you get inside the pod-like thing, it massages you with strong jets of water. Cool, right? I’d never seen anything like it before!
The Amsterdam airport is probably one of the best airports I’ve ever been to (and I’ve seen a lot), but I wasn’t a bit sad to leave. I couldn’t wait to get my feet back on American soil. Our flight from Amsterdam to Detroit was a bit of a downer, though. Something in the electrical failed and so no TVs on the airplane were working. Traveling long haul in economy is not for the weak, but the one consolation you get for the cramped quarters and crappy food is unlimited movies, so it was quite a disappointment to not be able to watch any. I guess I’d rather have a TV malfunction than an engine one, though!
Once we landed in Detroit, we were going to have a 4-hour layover. I saw on the departure boards where a flight was leaving two hours earlier than our scheduled flight and we considered trying to get on it, but then we were afraid our luggage wouldn’t travel with us and we’d end up having to wait for it in Nashville anyway. In hindsight, we should have tried to get on that flight. Laura and Jacob’s plane back to Missouri left and we were waiting for ours to board when we found out it was going to be delayed…by over three hours.
It is difficult to describe the level of crazy this took me to. I felt like Catherine O’Hara in Home Alone when she walks to the ticket counter and loses it with the airport employee. There is nothing more frustrating when traveling long distance than being so close to home, but still so far away.
When we finally boarded our delayed flight, I could tell that something felt wrong in my stomach region. (I was no stranger to this in India.) I don’t know if it was stress or traveling or something I ate on the previous airplane, but I was not feeling well. We had just taken off, the flight attendants were even still seated, when I jumped up and started making a bee-line for the bathroom. One of the flight attendants immediately forced me back to my seat. I was completely frantic at this point, and so tired and distressed that I didn’t care what kind of scene I had to make. I just had to get to that bathroom. She finally let me go, and as I ran for the toilet, every eye on the airplane was stuck right on me. It says a little something about the trip you’ve had when you aren’t even one bit embarrassed that every single person is staring at you, all grateful they aren’t in the same predicament you’re in.
When we landed in Nashville, I wanted to kiss the dirty airport floor. We still had an hour-long drive home, but it didn’t matter. I was so, so grateful to be on the ground and in a city where I know the language and the toilets always flush. If I hadn’t been so dehydrated, I probably would have cried. Walking through the doors of our house after traveling for 16 days was just about the BEST feeling I’ve ever had. We were so out of sorts and off schedule that instead of going to bed, we showered and unpacked and tried to get the house back to normal. Around 2am, we finally crawled into our own beds for the first time in over two weeks. Nothing feels better after a trip like ours than coming home!
On our journey home, we ran into a man at the airport who told us there is a saying among tourists about what India actually stands for – I’ll Never Do It Again. After the crazy (sometimes wonderful, sometimes downright awful) trip we had, I can’t honestly say if I’ll ever have the courage to subject myself to India again, but I’ll tell you this – I will forever be in debt to my parents for gifting us with this opportunity to experience a new place and culture, make new memories, and come home with funny stories to tell (however unfunny they might have been at the time). It was truly a trip of a lifetime!
A big thank you to all of you who have come along on the journey with me as I’ve been retelling these India stories as well. I know these aren’t the sort of posts you’re used to reading here, so I appreciate you sticking around. We’ll be back to regular programming next week!