With our goodbyes all done, the only thing left to do was to actually leave but apparently Honduras was just as reluctant to say good bye to us as we were to it. Please fasten your seatbelts folks, we are now approaching some turbulence.
Our journey home was composed of at least two flights for everyone, from San Pedro Sula to Miami and then Miami to London Heathrow. For some of us there was one more, onwards to Edinburgh, Inverness, Aberdeen and even Budapest. We arrived at the airport in SPS in plenty of time (none of us wanted a repeat of what happened at Christmas when we missed our boat to Utila – we weren’t quite that desperate to stay) but were told that our flight was delayed by 45 minutes. Not so bad but as we waited our departure time kept getting later and our wait longer. We eventually left just over two hours late but because our layover in Miami was originally three hours long, the delay meant that we had very little time to get through the monster of an airport that is Miami International.
We touched down at 8pm and our flight left at 8.40pm so as soon as we were off that plane, we were sprinting, bags flailing, flip flops flapping, cursing our lack of fitness. We managed to bag a flashy fluorescent orange pass that let us skip queues which worked until we got to security where there was a separate queue for others with the same flashy card so we couldn’t skip it. Another issue was that we came through security at gate D26 and our gate was E23. It sounds worse when I say that the D gates go up to 60. And we had 15 minutes. We were told we weren’t going to make it but we tried anyway. Amy and Sophie were sent ahead without their bags so they could sprint to the gate and maybe get them to wait for the sweaty, hopeful group of 16 other teenagers that were on their way.
It didn’t work. Amy and Sophie got there two minutes after they had closed the gates/the plane had left so by the time the rest of us got there there was nothing we could do. We had to traverse our way back across the terminals we had crossed to the rebooking desk where we waited for an hour and half, witnessed a show of crazy that you can only see from someone who has missed multiple flights and thinks the world owes her and eventually had to wake up various family members to tell them we wouldn’t actually be home in the morning.
It turned out that the next flight to London wasn’t until 5pm the next day and all the airline’s hotel spaces were full so we had to just slum it in the airport for the next 19 hours. There was another option, to find, book and pay for a hotel ourselves and get reimbursed but none of us had enough money to pay for a last minute hotel near the airport in Miami. Instead we found a nice corridor behind TGI Fridays and bedded down for the night like a row of tacos.
The next day was wasted by moving between our base camp and the charging sockets nearby, trying to stretch our fairly meagre food vouchers as far as possible and re-re-booking ourselves on the next flight because we just by chance happened to discover it hadn’t been done properly the night before. Everything went right in the end though and we were sat by gate E23 again (what a coincidence, huh?) with plenty of time before our flight left.
8 hour flights being what they are, the first four hours flew by and the next four were excruciatingly slow. Almost 24 hours later than planned we arrived at Heathrow. After all that Lucy and I still had another flight to catch so we couldn’t hang around for long. We said our goodbyes to everyone (not too painful because we’ll see most of them in a few weeks at Debriefing) and a quick hello to everyone’s families before hopping across to our terminal.
Two painless hours later, we were pulling into the gate at Edinburgh airport and not long after were faced with home for the first time in 363 days. I have to admit that it wasn’t that emotional to see my family again – for me at least. It had been a few months since I had seen my dad and Kirsty but only two weeks since my mum and Amy left Honduras. For them though, it was the opposite. It didn’t matter to them that not that much time had passed since they last saw me. I was home again and not leaving (at least not for a while). That idea was not one I wanted to dwell on at the time, what with not wanting to be home and everything, but for them it meant a lot.
And so resumes ‘normal’ life. Once again, I don’t want to overload you so if I can get my feelings about being home into any kind of order anytime soon, maybe there’ll be a blog about it (ok, there will be, I’m not quite ready to stop annoying everyone with this just yet) but for now, yes, it is nice to be home.