For the trip home, I had a great group of traveling companions: Sam, Stella, Patrick, Jesse, and Chris. The flight from Punta Arenas to Santiago went very smoothly and passed more quickly than expected. We had a few hours to kill so we got some dinner and then I decided to do some duty-free shopping. I went a little crazy in the duty-free alcohol section in Santiago and bought four bottles of wine and three bottles of Pisco. Since I bought them in a duty-free shop, they kept the bottles and gave them to me on the jetway after having my bags searched. I had a row to myself on the way from Santiago to Dallas which definitely made the flight much more comfortable for me. We picked up our bags and said goodbye to Jesse. Stella, being a non-US citizen, took a lot longer to get through immigration. She eventually showed up in time for a quick goodbye to her, Patrick, and Sam. It was probably good that it was quick as I tend to get mushy and teary-eyed at goodbyes much more now that I am older. It was sad to see the last of the seal team go as I had really enjoyed their company and their letting me be a part of their adventure. I met and enjoyed spending time with a lot of great people on this trip, but they were definitely my favorites.
Now that I had my bags, I had some creative packing to do. Since liquids are not allowed on US flights, the trick came in figuring out how to pack seven glass bottles into my checked luggage in a way that would keep them all from breaking. It took a little time, but luckily I brought a huge suitcase. The flight from Dallas to
Denver seemed the longest, but I made it home without any problems. A soon as I got my bags, I opened up the one with all of the bottles, and was VERY relieved to see that they all made it safely.
I'll continue to add a post every few days as I go back and fill in moments and upload pictures now that I have a bit more time and am on solid ground.