In retrospect, it only makes sense that our final, last day would as crazy and nerve racking as our first. We started our trip with travel insanities, and it was only right to end on the same note. Still, I would have preferred to avoid all of the mess and just have a nice and pleasant trip home. It really goes to show that one can never take border crossings and airports lightly.
Want to find out more about our final travel day? Keep on reading!
With our flight at 7 AM, we were up at 4 AM. The stars were still out in the sky and the air warm and humid. We brushed our teeth, grabbed our bags and managed to get a taxi right away. We drove the 30 or so KM with the windows down, looking at the city rushing by. Even as we were making our way to the airport, it never sank in that this was “it”, that our trip was now over. It simply felt like yet another trip to the airport, as though we were just doing the same thing we had now been doing for 575 days. Yep, we had a severe case of the denials.
PTY —-> MIA
At the airport everything went fine and soon enough we were past security and at our gate. Almost all of the restaurants were closed, and so I had to settle for a tiny sandwich at $10 USD. Hours later, I would consider it money well spent.
Our first flight went well, and was pretty short. Miami is only two hours away from Panama City, and we flew over some stunning Caribbean islands and blue, blue water. If there is one thing that I love, it’s those pretty blues! We also flew over the Everglades and the Florida Keys.
Troubles started for us as we arrived at US Immigrations. Even though we had a connecting flight, we still had to go through customs. While Travis is an American and can clear customs pretty quickly, I had to stand in line as a visitor – along with thousands of other people. The place was packed solid, and the lines were not moving. As more and more time went by, I started to get really anxious: we didn’t have much time to make our connecting flight.
I spoke with a representative of American Airlines (our airline) and they explained that there was no way to go through customs faster: indeed, she stated that customs did not care about people missing their flights and that the process was just to give us a free flight if it happened. I still didn’t want to miss my flight, and thankfully at the very last minute they opened the US citizen’s lines for Canadian passport holders. I cleared customs and met back up with Travis just as our flight started boarding.
(On a somewhat related note, I managed to fit all of our 34 countries into the box(es) on the immigration form, and the customs agent was pretty impressed by our trip. I regret not taking a photo of it!)
We grabbed our bags, put them through to the connecting flight check, cleared security and ran for our gate. We made it onto our plane with minutes to spare and way more stress than either of us had wanted.
MIA —-> YUL
Miami to Montreal was also a pretty quick and easy flight. The pilot seemed to want to provide us with some nice scenery, and flew right over the Bahamas and the entire East Coast of the States. The Bahamas looked amazing – talk about crazy amazing water! And we flew right over New York City, but I missed it as I was in the washroom. Photo courtesy of Travis!
There was a moment during our flight where I shed a few tears over our trip being over, but overall we stayed firmly anchored on our denial. Then there was the moment where we wondered what the hell we were doing flying back to Canada: it happened as we approached Montreal for the landing and saw the cold, wet city bellow us. Everything gray and wintery, with no leaves whatsoever. It was so depressing!
We landed in Montreal and headed to the customs. Travis having his permanent residency here in Canada, we felt confident that everything should go pretty well. They asked a few questions, welcomed us home and off we were to get our luggage.
We waited, and waited, and no luggage. Eventually the airline called our names over the intercom and explained that our luggage were still in Miami. We filled our forms, got a few stamps and were assured that our bags would be delivered the next morning at my mom’s. As much as this was the best possible moment on our trip for our luggage not to show up, it was still pretty bad timing. Why? Well, we were wearing light sweaters and I was wearing sandals and it was *cold* outside. By cold, I mean that it was about 5 C (41 F) outside and raining. Was it really only this morning that we were in a lush, warm tropical country?
As we were making our way out of the custom’s area, we were called into secondary. Of course, after all of the stress of the day and having no luggage would they add more stress on us and call us in for questioning. It went pretty quickly though, and finally we were through immigration and into Montreal.
Now, remember that sandwich that I had earlier in the morning? Well, that was the only food we had eaten all day aside from a few cookies and crackers. By the time we arrived at my mom’s, we were tired, cranky and very hungry. We dropped off our bags and headed straight for food. We had a delicious meal of pasta, pizza and red wine at Geppetto. I was so hungry, cranky from the day and yet happy to see my mom that I didn’t think to grab any photos of dinner.
After dinner, my mom surprised us with a hotel room. Instead of sharing her one-bedroom apartment, she treated us to a nice hotel room not too far from her house. After our crazy day, the idea of sleeping in a big and comfy bed instead of a mattress on the floor seemed quite lovely. Major score!