Ok I've been back in Yilan for exactly 24 hours and taught class this morning. Actually it went quite well. I'm not too terribly tired, though I slept for 3 hours this afternoon. I have enough energy now to give an account of my travels home.
On Friday night after the wedding I double checked the airport shuttle paper only to find that it was booked for August 12. I called them at 1:30 am and fortunately was able to change it! The next morning we had breakfast and packed before taking Cara and Steve to the London airport. Then I had about an hour to spend with Johanna's parents and niece Ally, who are about the sweetest people in the world. They took me for lunch and then we went to wait for the shuttle, which was late. I wasn't too worried since my flight wasn't until 7pm and the shuttle would take me there at 1:30. It pulled up just as the Brittains were starting to wonder if they needed to drive me to Toronto.
The ride to the airport was pretty quick and when I went to check in, I found something that only further confirmed my now ingrained opinion that no North American regional flight is ever on time. They said that my flight was already 45 minutes late and that I could possibly miss my connection in Minneapolis (only an hour and a half layover scheduled) which was the LAST flight from there to San Francisco for the day. The nice lady at Delta advised me to take a different flight through Chicago and would get me to SFO at 9:30pm, which happened to be leaving in just under an hour. So instead of a leisurely 3 hours to enjoy my last Tim Horton's and buy a few Canada souvenirs, I ended up rushing to another airline and checking in, then having to go through customs. This was a new thing for me. Now they have you go through airport customs on the way out of Canada instead of when you land in the States. The good thing about it was that I didn't have to pick up my bags and recheck them during my connection, they could go all the way to my final (American) destination. I made it to the gate just a few minutes before they started boarding.
Went to Chicago for the second time this trip and had some pizza and talked to Hope on the phone until it was time to head for San Francisco. Since I was going to be getting there quite a bit earlier than originally planned, I tossed around the idea of getting a hotel. A couple of quick calls on arrival told me that was not going to happen. A vacant hotel room near the airport on a Saturday night in San Francisco? hah
So I got my luggage and looked for a place to settle in for the night. I found a little restaurant area that had a Subway and a coffee shop (which was closed) and lots of empty tables. I noticed some people had made themselves at home in the booths and I followed suit. I took advantage of the wireless internet to go through wedding photos and post them on Facebook, and managed to sleep for maybe two hours in a rather uncomfortable position. I found myself feeling VERY cold all night! They keep the air conditioner in airports and on planes unreasonably high, especially for those of us now acclimatized to tropical countries. The coffee shop opened at 4:30 am and I was up.
I made my way to the international terminal and bummed around for awhile, before checking in as early as I could to get rid of my suitcases. I bought an overpriced (but rather nice) hoodie from a shop (which I was thankful for on the frigid airplane) and decided to go through security early. Good thing I did. I should have known better than to complain about my experience on the way in. Trying to be a polite and friendly traveler I gave a half smile and a good morning to the lady at the beginning of the security gate, to which she promptly responded by flagging me for extra security. It was obvious she got some kind of sadistic joy from doing so. So began a process that took almost 30 minutes. I had to go through a machine that blows air at you (i guess to search for detonation devices) then had all my luggage hand checked and swabbed for explosives. To add insult to injury, I opened my bag upon arrival in Taiwan to find it, too, had been inspected... you'd think they'd mix it up a bit in order to screen as many people as possible. Anyways, I didn't enjoy the process at all, it made me feel like a criminal or something... but at the end the guy thanked me for my patience, so hopefully my distaste for the whole process didn't display itself on my face. In my opinion, if there's really anything that dire that they couldn't find with just their machines (like if it's really likely that bombs and detonation devices are getting through the x-ray etc) then they should be checking EVERYONE with the same care. Otherwise it seems a little pointless that I'm being examined with a fine tooth comb while the "bad guys" are walking through. ... end of rant...
so ANYWAYS after making it through security I really didn't have that much time to look around so I headed for the gate after buying my last Diet Dr. Pepper for a few months at least. I took a couple of sleeping pills just before boarding, since I didn't want to repeat my up-for-30-hours experience on the way there, and they worked quite well, I slept for the hour we sat on the plane waiting to take off (another delayed flight) and another hour after that. I tried to watch the same movie twice but fell asleep in the first five minutes. Too bad, I actually really wanted to see it. I figure I slept at least 6 hours out of the 11. Had really friendly flight attendants and two Taiwanese ladies beside me who couldn't speak English. They were really surprised that I could speak Chinese, but it was good since i ended up helping them order food/drinks. I made it through customs without a problem and started the 2ish hour journey home, first to the train station then to a taxi back to Yilan where I met a girl who was going to Guatemala the next day! Unpacked, got some more sleep, and got up to take the train to class this morning. It went by really fast, and the kids are really great. Speaking of class, I've got a few more preparations to make for tomorrow...catch you later!