"There's nothing half so pleasant as coming home again."
[Margaret Elizabeth Sangster]
Sixty five hours from now my plane will touch down at the Minneapolis - St. Paul international airport. This will be the first time in ten months that I set foot in the United States since last July (with the exception of a short weekend in New York City in October). It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it!!
In the past year I dove head first into everything Colombia had to offer me. I visited the Amazon Basin, I trekked through the jungle for six days to find a lost city, I swam in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, I watched the sunset over a Caribbean island, I salsa danced, I tried new foods and drinks, I kayaked on the open ocean, I climbed mountains, I became best friends with Juan Valdez, I met amazing and inspiring people. I learned that not everyone goes abroad for the same reasons, but despite our separate pasts we are all in search of a common future rooted in the understanding that this world is much bigger than you and me.
That being said, it's time to go home for a little while. I miss the people and the places that I love more than I can even describe. Living in Colombia has taught me a million things in the past year, but one of the most definitive is the importance of home - whatever your idea of home might be. Mine is Minnesota, a land of gorgeous lakes, a new baseball stadium, delicious food, good smoothies and people who love me, accept me, and understand me in spite of everything.
I will be at home for about five weeks and in that time I am very excited about:
- Seeing my whole extended family the first weekend I am home at my brother Michael's high school graduation party.
- Seeing my goddaughter Stefanie at said party - she is six now and I honestly don't even think I will recognize her because kids grow so fast!
- A family trip to Cuchara, Colorado over the 4th of July. On the way we are going to pass through the University of Nebraska - Lincoln where my brother is going to college next year.
- Visiting my friends Alex and Lindsey in Irvine, California for my birthday in July! This will be my very first trip to the West Coast!
- Life catch-ups and discussions with Maria and Anna so we can figure out how we are all going to exist in three different places without each other.
- Seeing as many people as possible at the airport on Wednesday morning.
- Going to happy hour with my brother Joe! (He turned 21 since I have been in Colombia)
- A weekend visit from college friends, Katie and Kirsten.
- Driving in the car with the windows down listening to Cities 97 or K102.
- Cafe Latte, Happy Gnome, Davannis, Jimmy Johns, Bulldog Bar, Chipotle, Caribou Coffee, Bruegger's, Jamba Juice, The Tea Garden, Cossetta's, Billy's on Grand, Uncommon Grounds, Whole Foods, and so so so much more!
- Visiting the Minneapolis lakes for a swim, rollerblade, ice cream, bike ride, or kayaking.
- Seeing the third Twilight move, Eclipse, at midnight for Liz's birthday.
- Twins games at Target Field! Finally!
- A serious sit down over coffee with Jenny aka my travel soulmate so I can hear all about her time in Australia!
- Spending little moments and big moments and every free second in between with the very best friends a five-year-old could have found at Thomas Lake Elementary. I am forever indebted to the wisdom, intelligence, honesty and comedy of Kate, Liz and Ilse.
- Summer Shandy - so delicious.
- Unlimited texting.
- Sunlight past 6:30 pm - that might take some getting used to actually.
- Having a dryer! My clothes are starting to be ridiculously stretched out after 10 months of line drying.
Of course, even with all the excitement of being at home, I will miss some things about Colombia...
- Seeing Kelsi everyday - she literally makes me laugh all the time and I love being around her whether we are traveling together or sitting at home all day on a Sunday :)
- The ease and efficiency of living in a city with reliable public transportation. I love the Mio.
- Fresh vegetables and fruit - so cheap and so delicious.
- Grande vanilla cinnamon lattes at Juan Valdez.
- Warm apple muffins from Juan Valdez - actually the best thing ever.
- The 5 o'clock breeze that cools off the city as it rolls through the valley off the mountains.
- Seeing my friends from school everyday! There is something about working with lots of people who you like and get along with that makes each day a little brighter.
- Traveling to new places all the time!
- Speaking Spanish.
As I get packing to head home, here is a short video I made with some of the pictures from this year. I have always lived my life from summer to summer, and this is no different, so as one chapter ends and another begins, here is a brief summary of my first year in Colombia.