This is the post you have all been waiting for. The tale of my daring escape from Barcelona in the middle of the night.
Let me paint you a picture: Little ol' Hope asleep in her bed. Not a worry in the world, but Catalan dancing in her head. It is 2 am and she hath been asleep for 30 minutes. Suddenly, her roommate barges in and startles her awake!
"Hope wake up now! You have to get up and find a flight. Trump announced a travel ban effective Friday. Get up!" - Annie runs from the room frantically speaking on the phone to her mother. She begins waking up another roommate.
Hope stares at the wall for a few seconds as the words sink in and then springs into action! She calls her mother and says "I need to look for a flight out as soon as possible." Her mother is confused for she was in bed and did not hear about the announcement. Hope explains what is happening to her mother. Her mother hangs up to call the Harrington clan into action. Sarah, Greg, and Karen begin to look for flights. Hope tries to contact American Airlines to no avail. She knows there must be hundreds of calls currently, but she does not give up yet!
In the other rooms of the apartment, the girls are frantically calling home and mass panic is evident in the air. Hope tries to remain calm as she searches on her computer. Luck strikes as Sarah finds a flight leaving at 6:40 in the morning. Hope immediately books the flight and jumps up to pack. She throws her belongings into suitcases with no organization in mind. It is now 3:30 am and Hope finishes packing away the last 3 months of her life. She calls a cab as her roommates help her get her luggage downstairs. She hugs them goodbye and begins her journey to the airport in her superman tee, Campbell sweatpants, and UB sweatshirt (what she had been sleeping in). Hope rides to the BCN airport to find it a madhouse.
2 hours awake.
Students and Americans are desperately looking for a way home. Lines are forming every where she looks. Hope panics as she can't find her airline. After an hour, she notices the staff setting up a kiosk for her airline. Now having located the TAP Portugal airline, she begins waiting for check-in.
4 hours awake.
Finally, after 2 hours of waiting, she is able to get her boarding pass and check her luggage. Hope races to security where she proceeds with no problems. She runs to her gate and makes it with 5 minutes to spare before boarding begins. Hope boards the plane and takes a deep breath.
She flies to Portugal where she has a 3 hour lay-over. She passes time by eating a chocolate croissant. She is tired, but this is only the beginning of a long journey home.
9 hours awake.
Hope then boards her next flight to Miami. This is the long flight, but a flight to sleep only she doesn't sleep. Perhaps adrenaline keeps her awake, but nonetheless she stays awake.
18 hours awake.
Hope finally makes it to Miami. She goes through passport control. "How long have you been in Spain? Where else have you been in the last 15 days? Do you have anything to declare?" She makes it through passport control and collects her luggage. From there she finds food. Hope's taste-buds dance when she has her first Dr. Pepper in 3 months. From there she checks into her flight for RDU and goes through security again. From there she walks to her gate to hunker down for her 6 hour lay-over. Exhaustion is creeping in, but she remains alert. Hope sits on the floor to charge her phone and talks to her parents before passing time playing games.
24 hours awake.
Hope boards her plane to RDU. She is antsy and fidgety. She just wants to hurry up and get home so she can crash.
26 hours awake.
She lands at RDU. She goes through passport control then heads to baggage claim. As she does, she sees her dad and runs into a hug. Together they get her luggage. They walk to the car where she is reunited with her mother, Piper, Daisy, and Lily (the fur-babies). They are wild as they whine and jump on her lap. After they calm down, she is presented with a bojangles chicken biscuit, Cajun fries, and SWEET TEA followed by a Reese's cup.
28 hours awake.
Hope has showered the travels and stress away and climbed into bed with Piper cuddled close where she falls asleep to begin 14 days of quarantine with her parents.
I hope you enjoyed the events of my speedy departure from Barcelona. I wish my words can capture the craziness of it and how it felt to be in that situation. The stress, exhaustion, the panic, and emotions that I probably haven't even processed yet. Now that I am home, I am sad. I lost a month of time. I lost the opportunity to travel to 4 other countries...3 of them being the top of my bucket list. My education is reduced to online work. I did not get to say goodbye to most of my friends that I made. I begin the process of re-entry shock. I went to bed late that night and yet I was awake at 8 am. I was constantly doing something. I cleaned my luggage and all of my belongings. I washed all of my clothes. I organized my souvenirs. I started my travel scrapbook. I went to bed at 8 pm and woke up at 6 am. I think the time change adjustment will be difficult, but it won't take too long. I think the hardest part is looking at my photos and not believing it was real. Part of it looks like a dream. Has it really been 3 months since I've been home? It feels like yesterday that I left for Spain, but it feels like a lifetime. It feels like I had all the time in the world, but it feels like I had no time at all. I look at pictures and I long to be back yet feel happy to be home. If I close my eyes, I can hear the city buzzing around me and I can smell the bakery. I have missed southern food for sure, but give me time and I am sure that I will miss Spanish food. Even though I am sad, I smile because I am beyond grateful for the time I had there, the experiences, and the lessons learned. It was the best experience of my life and I don't regret a second of it.
Give me more time and I will update you on how it is going. Adjustment to life back home and I can show you my scrapbook! Ciao!