I awoke at the all too early hour of 5 am with nothing about a long travel day toward home ahead of me. It was cold enough that I didn't bother with a shower. I had also packed my headlamp at the bottom of my pack, and without the desire to repack the night before leaving, I had to execute my final hostel room departure in complete darkness. At least the taxi ride to the airport was faster without the business of rush hour traffic.
Once at the airport, I checked my backpack, leaving me with my two laptops, camera, and a few random items in a cheap bag I bought before leaving Medellin. I bought a last minute bottle of Medellin Anejo rum so I could enjoy the occasional rum on the rocks or with Sprite as I'd done so often the first half of 2009. Of course I was raped with a giant mark-up which made me wonder why the hell I didn't just bring a bottle from Medellin. You'd think I'd have learned to anticipate my own last-minute souvenir-buying tendencies by now, but nope!
The flight to Orlando, Florida was uneventful. I didn't get a window seat, but I did amuse myself with a funny movie called I Love You Man and some Jon Stewart from The Daily Show. Maybe there are some benefits to getting back to the USA after all. But in general, I'm going to try and refrain from watching TV once home. Aside from Lost, I didn't miss it at all while traveling.
Once we landed in Orlando, I passed through immigrations and customs with ease. I was officially back in the USA, and it was weird. I boarded a light rail to the main terminal, and was suddenly surrounded by Americans.
My first impressions made me realize how accustomed I had become to living amongst Colombians for the prior 6 months. On average, Americans were heavier, paler (yes, I know I'm one of them), and dressed more casually. Not to say that the Colombian default of jeans and t-shirts is formal, but shorts are fairly uncommon, let alone flip flops. Not only was I seeing a lot of white people, I was seeing their white legs and feet as well! It was almost too much for me to handle. On the plus side, I was also struck by the racial diversity. Of course I was at an airport for tourists, but even as I write this a few days later, I'm more aware of how truly diverse we are in this country.
My five hour layover turned to six hours as my connecting plane was late, but I simply camped out at a bar table near an outlet, overlooking the tarmac, and prepared a few blog posts on Medellin Living about my final days in Colombia.
And then I was on my last flight for the foreseeable future, heading back to Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia. I had a window seat this time, and tried to capture a few sunset photos to mark the end of my journey.