26.02.2014 - 27.03.2014 20 °C
It is the big day, and a very long one, we are returning home to Istanbul, via Miami-London...
Travel anxiety hit us big time as we only got to sleep for an hour or so. Woke up at 4 AM to go to the airport, we are advised to be at the airport 3 hrs ahead of our flight by everybody and we take it seriously. Check-in done in 15 minutes, we end up strolling thru the airport corridors and shops, on the lookout for the last minute souvenirs and pisco, but we still have more than two hours to kill at the gate! Once again we are reminded that, online and/or word of mouth travel advisory might not be the most accurate information, but it's the only one, one has whilst in transit.
As we board the plane, I am kindly asked to step aside to get my carry-on stuff searched for explosives. Luckily, there is none to be found.
In a few hours, we cross over the Equator and leave the southern hemisphere, our home for the last 99 days.
6 hours later we arrive in Miami Airport, we have 3 hours 'till our connecting flight. Very busy passport control check brings up a few curious bits of information on the screen apparently and we are asked to step in to the special questioning area, well, for further questioning. Ayca insists it's my bushy beard and Peruvian green commie hat that triggered the inquisition, maybe she is right, again!
Going thru a set of questions, I state traveling in South America now and the Middle East in the past, living in Turkey, owning a business there, being a British Citizen, going to school in the US, working in the US and provide all sorts of convincing answers. Ayca is cross-examined in another corner. And we're told to proceed to the next room, where a similar set of questions are asked. And we're finally relased to go pick up or bags. We head down to luggage claim only to see that there is no way of getting out of there anytime soon. Once at customs desk we are led thru the "Green Line" to our connecting flight to make sure we are not carrying any quinua, corn or potato seeds! Finally thru the customs after two and a half hours we check-in our bags at a luggage trolley by the street door, god knows where it will go, but who cares, we're going home, and we don't want to carry the bags no more.
Thru another annoying security check, we barely made it to the gate to board the London flight, after 3 hours, where we are greeted with usual exaggerated but honest English hospitality, signs of getting closer to Europe. London bound flight is an overnight one, so the plan is to have a few drinks over dinner, watch a movie or two, and pass out to wake up in London at 6 AM. After dinner the flight is so bumpy that everybody is bound down by seat belts and there are no refreshments served for the remainder of the flight. Watching a movie turns out to be a challenge between actually following the movie plot and talking to the woman next to us, to make sure she does not "go". At the end, luckily, she does not "go", because she was busy talking to Ayca all night long.
In London, my "hometown", we are greeted with extreme warmth as my British passport is not even looked at at the passport control, security check/x-ray only takes 3 mins. I proudly hit the "smiley button" on the automated security check survey machine there, traveling made easy! But we still have another 3 hours to kill. Later at the gate I am approached by a Heathrow Airport surveyor to conduct a "travel made easy" survey. It turns out, the only drawback of the airport is that there is no working wi-fi! But don't take my word for it...
3 hours waiting and 3 more flying, we land in Istanbul. As we walk towards passport control we meet two Greek fellas who sat in front of us on the flight. Apparently they traveled in South America for 3 months, like us, but in just the opposite direction, from Peru to Brazil. They live right outside Edirne, across the border from us, and they are back just in time for the new farming season, they decided not to hibernate but to go to South America this winter. The tall one turns out to be a musician, plays the bag-pipe he tells us. At this instant we recall seeing a bag-pipe player in Uyuni, Bolivia, about a month ago, and going thru our camera roll we confirm that it is indeed him that we saw in Uyuni.
We all scream in delight and start laughing, reminding ourselves, the world is so big, but yet so small, distances far, yet close, we as humans so small, yet the urge to travel ever present, once again.