I’ve been home for a week now. I have to admit it still feels pretty surreal to me. There were moments during my last week in Bolivia when I wondered if I’d made the right decision. While my life in America is far from perfect, sitting here, in my bedroom, bundled up in sweats and blankets, I know I’m in the right place and I feel blessed.
Getting home was no easy task. I don’t think I’ve ever had a more stressful travel experience in my life, but at the same time God’s provision really had a chance to shine through. Getting out of Bolivia itself was a miracle. I spent 40 minutes arguing with the immigration guy over my visa. Technically I had overstayed my one month visa, however I began the extension process as soon as I arrived in the country. It was due to Bolivia’s lack of governmental organization and efficiency that 2.5 months later I still hadn’t been granted my extension. I tried to explain this to the guy (in Spanish to boot!) but he still wouldn’t budge, it was $123 fee or nothing. Oye vey!
And then there were the flight delays. My first flight from Cochabamba to Santa Cruz was delayed, although it didn’t matter much since I already had a 14 hour layover at the airport, but then, when I checked into my flight to Miami the next morning I was informed that it was delayed as well. We touched down on American soil at the exact same time my flight to Seattle left. It looked like I would be spending the night in Miami, and I wasn’t excited.
But, here’s the point where things started looking up. I made my way through customs and to the American Airlines customer service counter to get a hotel voucher for the night. When my turn came I went up to the counter, explained to the agent that I’d already been rebooked onto another flight while I was in Bolivia. She asked where I was going and when I told her Seattle she said “wait just a second, I may have something…” There was a flight leaving for Seattle via Dallas at 6:55 and I managed to score the very last seat on it (sorry standby folks!). Only issue was it was already 6:15, I needed to hustle, and I needed to call my mom! So I went in search of a pay phone (I know, I know, old school but I thought I would be living in Bolivia for 10 months so I cancelled my cell service). I went up to a TSA agent to ask if she knew where pay phones were. She got a confused look on her face, pulled out her iPhone and said I could use it. PTL! (Praise the Lord!) Next, getting through security proved to be quite a task, the line was long, as in like an hour long, an hour that I didn’t have. So I walked up to the agent guarding the priority line, I asked her how long it would take because I didn’t have much time, showed her my ticket, and she waved me through. PTL!
I made it to my flight on time, but like both my flights before, it was also delayed. Again stress began to build up inside of me. I saw my 50 minute layover in Dallas shrink more and more, and once again I wondered if I would make it to Seattle in time. So I did the only logical thing I could do in the situation. I prayed that my Seattle flight would be delayed. I just needed 20 minutes, please God delay the flight by 20 minutes.
We landed in Dallas with 10 minutes until my take-off time and a gate on the opposite side of the airport. I ran to the train and then home alone style through the airport to hopefully make it before the gate closed. I didn’t care if my bags made it, I just needed to be on that plane.
I reached gate A21 completely out of breath, and go figure, the flight was delayed… by 20 minutes. Thank You Jesus!
So, in the end I made it home at 1am on Christmas Eve. It was such a blessing to be able to spend Christmas with my family this year, and honestly, it’s a blessing to be able to experience winter. After having summer for the last 12 months this change in weather is welcome.
So this brings to a close the Bolivia chapter in the story of my life, but of course I couldn’t finish out this story without a few more picture from my last few weeks in South America….
This is what rainy season looks like in downtown Cochabamba. There were some points where I was wading through water midway up my calf. Yikes!
I decorated the cafe a bit for Christmas. Feliz Navidad!
I joined the Christmas Choir at my church. Nobody will be calling us for a recording contract anytime soon, but we didn’t do to bad! We would sing a song and then there was a drama that went along with it. It was actually pretty cool!
And of course I couldn’t wrap up my time in Bolivia without more pictures from Casa De Amor 1 🙂
Boy did those kids love their Christmas tree!
Sweet little F (I can’t share their real names). I love her smile!
And then there’s G, the little trouble maker.
Spending playtime with spunky little R.
Playtime at the Casa!
When the rains came, these little white flowers started popping up in the front yard every morning… they were gone by afternoon. Weird.
View of the waiting room in the Hospital. If you look hard enough you can just catch a tiny glimpse of the cafe in the bottom right corner.
And then, on my final day at the Hospital I walked outside and the place was overrun with children, hundreds of them, it was a Christmas Festival at the Hospital!
So there we go, the end of the Bolivian era. It’s hard to beleive that 2013 is already upon us. I’m super excited for this coming year because I feel like some big things are coming, and with that there will be some big changes around the blog, but more one that later!