April 14, 2008

Back in the U.S.A.

Hello from Fiji! Before Jared and I tell you about our time here in paradise (seriously, Fiji is heaven on earth) let's look back on our quick jaunt to the good old U.S. of A. We spent 10 days seeing people we love and chowing down on all the food we'd been missing.

Jared and I don't plan too far in advance, so when Jared's sister offered us two free tickets to Houston for her graduation, we jumped at the chance to go home for a bit. We took advantage of some buddy passes and frequent flier tickets and mapped a frantic U.S. tour: first Houston, then Florida, New York, and finally Los Angeles.

We touched down in Houston after more than five months in South America. I couldn't help but immediately see the overconsumption that is prevalent in the States. Everywhere we looked we saw big SUVs, big houses, big portions of food. Then again, this was Texas, where everything is big.

We weren't in Houston to sightsee, we were there to see family. Jared's sister Rachel became one of the newest flight attendants in the skies, and we both gained a new respect for flight attendants. (Rachel can evacuate a plane in 90 seconds!) As a bonus, we got to stay with Jared's cousins Cindy, Todd, 3-year-old Jessica, and one-year-old Colin. Last time we saw Jessica she was only one, and this was our first time meeting Colin, who I wanted to take with me.

Our next stop was my hometown, West Palm Beach, Florida. Throughout our last few weeks in South America, I was growing more homesick by the day. Seeing my parents, grandparents, and best friends did more for my spirits than a stay at a five-star hotel. My parents are selling my childhood home, so next time I see them they will be living in Georgia. I gave my grandparents big hugs, because they are 81 and 90, and I can't take them for granted anymore. Jared and I even got to spend time with his grandmother Myra, who lives not far from my parents. Friends are the family you choose, so seeing Jen, Billy, Katie, Bill, Eileen, and Hope was as important as seeing my parents. (I just wish I had taken more pictures of everybody.) Take a look at Jared's photos from Houston and Florida.

Then it was on to New York City, which is still my favorite city in the world. We had 36 hours to see as many of our friends as possible. It was a chilly Tuesday night in the city, but a few friends came to meet us for dinner and karaoke, and even more came out later for drinks. Over salmon and avocado rolls at our old sushi joint, we all sang rousing versions of "Sweet Child O Mine" and "Bohemian Rhapsody". Being serenaded by Feldman was worth the price of admission. Jared and I had missed all our friends more than they know, and seeing them was worth the trip to New York.

The next day in New York, I realized I had lost my wallet. Somewhere between paying for the cab back to Maria's apartment the night before, and walking 10 blocks that morning, my wallet went missing. Both my debit cards and three credit cards were in my wallet, and I know better than to keep all that stuff in one place. As my favorite blogger would say, BE YE NOT SO STUPID. Now that I was back on familiar territory I had let my guard down, and I was paying the price. It's better to have lost my wallet in New York than in a foreign country, but still, this is not how I wanted to spend my one free day in the New York City. I wanted to spend my day getting lemon cupcakes from Buttercup Bake Shop.

Los Angeles was the last stop on our North American leg. We scored a great deal on a flight to New Zealand, via Fiji, at half the price we would have paid from South America. So by coming home, we actually saved $1600. Plus we got to spend time with our good friends Erin, Hal, Hasmik, Kareem, Noah, Greg, Danielle, and Jenni. We grilled on a sidewalk, soaked in a hot tub, and spent time enjoying the hospitality of our new and old friends. Our time in L.A. also coincided with Community Next, a conference founded by our friend Noah. (We were used to seeing Noah in boxers at his Buenos Aires apartment, so it was strange to see him in a suit.) Right before our flight, we even crashed a barbecue where the host, who only met us that day, made us an incredible lunch of root beer marinated pork chops and grilled eggplant. Check out our photos from New York and L.A.

Having seen lots of family and friends and satisfied my cravings for margaritas, buffalo wings, spinach dip, sushi, chocolate chip cookies, salt and vinegar chips, In-N-Out Burger, Ethiopian food, sushi, burritos, The Cheesecake Factory, cookie dough ice cream, and more sushi, Jared and I boarded our flight to Fiji. We left the states feeling happy, exhausted, and ready for another long leg of travel. Thank you to everyone who put us up, transported us to and from airports, fed us and came to see us. We appreciate it more than you know.

Safe travels, J & J.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hehe re: noah in boxers!