We got home safe and sound! What a trip...but we made it! I can never seem to come home unscathed though! I am still getting over the cold, which has gotten a little better, but due to congestion my ears clogged right up during the descent into Newark airport yesterday morning. They stayed that way for the 3 or so hours until the next flight. On that flight, my ears popped over and over and over for like 15 minutes while ascending to cruising altitude. I guess they cleared up while up that high, but as soon as we started descending to land in Tampa I had a lot of ear and jaw pain and my ears clogged up again. My left ear is a little less clogged than my right ear. But still clogged today. I am taking a decongestant to try to help it. This has happened to me before on other years too, ugh. I am prone I guess, especially when sick.
So we got to our house finally around 4 pm. One of the first things I did after bringing everything inside is to go feel my bed. So soft, nice and cozy. (Indian beds are very hard, they are used to it that way. To me it feels like sleeping on wood, and they always have to add a small cushion for me while there or else I can't even sleep).
Like last year, once back into my bed my body doesn't want to get up again. After hardly sleeping for the 33 hour total journey, plus being awake that day in India before leaving, all I want to do is sleep. I made myself get up after 5 minutes to change and use the bathroom at least, get my phone to say a quick hello again to my parents, knowing that as soon as I laid down again I'd be sleeping within minutes (very unlike me, I usually take awhile to fall asleep under normal circumstances). And yes, soon after saying hi to my parents, I was snoozing. I slept from about 5pm to 3:30am and have been awake since. I feel like my day should be half over already and it's barely 8:30am here. Ha!! My husband went to work today. Crazy huh? But he slept at least 7 hours overnight so he can get through the one work day before starting the weekend.
I feel like there is so much I could type. Even the ride to the airport in Mumbai could be a post in itself!! I can't tell you how many times I said "oh. my. gosh" under my breath on the way to the airport. I prayed a lot too. The ride gets very interesting during the last half, on overcrowded narrow roads with cars zooming in and out of each other. Interesting in a visual way, along with scary! I have gotten used to the Indian style driving while we are there for the most part, like my brain switches over and doesn't feel as scared as the first time I went to India. But still, the very crowded areas when cars are zooming past you with LITERALLY one or two inches to spare, made me nervous. It's like in India, when you want to cross the street in your car or make a turn, it doesn't really matter if cars are coming. If there is even a few feet gap coming up, you just go for it and make everyone slow down or go around you. The only caution I saw is when a big bus or truck is coming, then they might wait a few more seconds. But at other times, when a big bus was coming it didn't matter, you just go. You might as well close your eyes, count to 3, press the gas down as hard as possible while honking the horn, and that will work out fine for you in India, in case you needed an Indian driving tip. ;) The horns are used all the time there, to tell people to move out of your way, or to let them know you are coming. All the big trucks there say on the back "Horn OK Please". I hope I got a picture of one saying that.
Getting through security and onto the plane, after doing what felt like a million things in the Mumbai airport, was just as grueling as we remembered it to be. Leaving the USA airports, at least the few I have been in, is soooo much easier. But they have more terrorism and security problems in India than here. So they are extra cautious. You wouldn't believe how many steps there are. Even while checking in your luggage there are things you have to do while waiting in line. Fill out a form, answer questions to Continental employees who are questioning everyone in line, show your passports, show your boarding passes, then you do that all again at the check in counter. Then you go through exit immigration, then you go through security, and all along the way you have to show all your documents. Finally once through security, we grabbed a quick snack, then went to stand in line for our plane's gate, where you go through another security. Means shoes off again, each person is checked with a hand held metal detector(women get to go stand being a portable wall while a female security guard does it). Then finally you get to go on the plane. The plane holds up to about 300 people. It's huge.
The flight was delayed into Newark by almost an hour. It didn't matter much to us because we had a few hours gap of time originally between landing and our next flight. As I mentioned maybe in the last post(or not?) in Newark we go through US Immigration, Customs, and then again security. Then it's time to relax until the next flight. Since we always arrive so early, it's breakfast time. Every year, this being the 3rd, we eat at a diner in the airport near our gates called Ruby's Diner for some American style breakfast. Our waitress there yesterday was the same as last year, and she remembered us!! I guess we are a unique combo. :P
Time passed fast until it was time for our Tampa flight. As soon as we were done with breakfast we went to our gate, and not long after they started boarding. We got on the plane on time but then had to wait for our turn to take off. Our plane left the gate but we were wondering why we weren't moving much again after 15 mins. The Captain told us we were #15 in line for take off so it might be another 30 minutes. We left at least 45 mins late. We just couldn't wait to be in Tampa and then go home.
Our flight landed in Tampa around 30mins late. At least we were very near home! The Tampa airport is our favorite, and it's the favorite among other people I know who have been in airports all around the world. It's just that the Tampa airport is well structured, nicely taken care of, never overcrowded, and easy to navigate. After collecting our bags and then waiting for my husband to go get our car where we parked it(nearby hotel), we went home. Although I made us stop for drive thru at Checkers(fast food burger place here) because I really wanted a burger after not having one for weeks. That was not fast. They gave us the wrong order and it took them 10 minutes just to give us the wrong order, then we had to turn around and get the right one, so the fast food stop was a 20min thing. But eventually, we got home! :)