Returning home to the United States after three months of traveling was not nearly as much of a culture shock as we had expected. In fact, we seemed to return to life as normal without missing a beat.
Well, maybe we missed a few beats… I guess we did have a short “transition period”.
Our biggest adjustments have been remembering not to throw toilet paper in the garbage, getting used to not spending every waking minute together, and to say “thank you” instead of “gracias”.
Our journey home began with an hour-long cab ride to the airport outside of La Paz. Halfway through the ride, our car got pulled over by the police.
In three months, we hadn’t seen any cops paying any attention to how fast people were driving, much less pulling them over.
With just a quick warning, our driver returned to the car laughing and we continued to the airport.
In the past, the La Paz airport was known as being frequented by drug traffickers. Many a kilo of cocaine has made it through those doors.
They have cracked down quite a bit in recent years, but as we found out, the security is not quite as thorough as in the United States (though I can’t think of many countries that are).
As soon as my backpack went through the x-ray machine, the woman working security grabbed it and explained she would have to look through it. She opened the zippers and used her hand to feel in each compartment, but didn’t seem to be finding what she was looking for. She pointed to the computer screen and whispered something to the other agents. After a couple for failed attempts to find whatever she was looking at on the screen, she let us go.
I brushed it off, and we boarded our plane. Hours later, as we were about to touch down in Lima, Peru, I opened the front compartment on my backpack looking to find a snack. Instead, my fingers made contact with a large knife we thought we had lost just days before.
“Crap,” I whispered to Ben, “What are we going to do?!”
After disembarking the plane, we were immediately herded into the customs line where we had to send our belongings through the x-ray machines again.
We decided we had only one option. Ben snuck over to a garbage can, leaned over, and discretely threw the knife inside.
Our reasoning was that a lost knife is better than being detained.
After more than 26 hours of flying on four different planes, we finally touched down in Minneapolis.
Home, sweet home.
We were greeted at the airport by my parents who told us they had an endless amount of craft beer and artisan cheese – the items we missed most during our travels – waiting for us at their house.
Thank God for parents!
Now that we are finally back to having a routine, and I can tell you we both desperately miss the utter chaos of traveling.
We were blessed to meet incredible people from all over the world who we now call our friends. And we saw some of the most amazing places. From the sandy Caribbean beaches in Colombia, to the Amazon Jungle in Bolivia, we were constantly stunned by how beautiful our world is.
We were able to spend three months exploring, learning and growing together, and we know that this experience is one we will be telling our grandchildren about. We fell madly in love with South America, and can’t wait to return.
There are so many things we miss, but we are constantly being reminded how amazing home is, too. We are surrounded by the most supportive friends and family, and are enjoying being in one place for the moment.
Side note: We do have another adventure planned that will come to fruition very soon, so stay posted!
Things we miss about traveling
- party hostels
- immersing ourselves in another culture
- fresh juices
- meeting people from all over the world each day
- waking up and seeing where the day will take us
- colorful markets
- street food
- exploring remote corners of our beautiful world
Things we don’t miss
- party hostels (we love ‘em and hate ‘em)
- noisy dorm rooms
- not being able to sleep in our own bed
- hostel bathrooms (‘nuff said)
- night buses
- ordering something at a restaurant and having something totally different come out
- crappy beer