A few days ago, in the middle of our 50-hour, epic journey from Bangkok to Santiago, we had a layover in Detroit.  In a way, we felt that we were coming full-circle in this, the middle of our journey: our trip had begun six months before with a flight out of the same airport.  After spending all but four days of those six months in Asia, which often felt very, very foreign, it was nice to be home, even if only in the airport and only for a few hours. 

My parents live in Rochester, a suburb of Detroit, and so they, along with my aunts, my cousin and one of my best friends, met us during our layover.  They came bearing gifts.  Although I was bleary-eyed at the time from 24 hours of flying, I managed to consume embarrassing quantities of Diet Coke (the stuff abroad is not nearly as good as the Real Thing, I swear to you), homemade chocolate-chip cookies (impossible to get on the road) and a full meal from Kruse and Muer, the restaurant whose food I always crave when I´m away from Rochester for too long.  In my few hours on home turf, I tried to soak up as much of the U.S. as possible.  I drank water straight from the tap, secure in the knowledge that it wouldn´t make me sick.  I watched the snow fall.  I luxuriated in the friendliness of the woman who drove the airport shuttle bus.  And, much too soon, it all came to an end and we were waving goodbye and boarding yet another plane, this time to Chile.

For me, our brief foray back into America really broke up the trip.  We´re now at Mile 13.1–half finished with a journey that is much more a marathon than a sprint.  In the past six months, we´ve had countless amazing experiences, a handful of trying ones and quite a few about which the numbers will tell the best story…

  • Countries visited: 16
  • Pairs of shoes worn through: 1
  • Bouts of food poisoning: 2 (Derek); 1 (Shanna)
  • Friends and family members who joined us for a leg of our journey: 10
  • Pieces of luggage destroyed by the airlines: 1
  • Pictures taken (not including the thousands we´ve deleted): 6,423
  • Visits by Shanna to the dentist: 7
  • Mattresses purchased for a Chinese orphanage: 120
  • Electronic appliances lost or stolen: 2
  • Missed flights: 0