I arrived home late Wednesday night ... exhausted.
Like so many of the other days, on this particular journey, Wednesday was a huge day. It was a day where my lost ID card was handed back to me at Milan Airport. I had been holding my breath a little as I reached check-in. I had the police report tucked away in my camera bag and my driver's licence, with the photograph to prove I was me, at the ready.
The lovely woman behind the counter saw my name and told me I had 'lost' that ID on the plane coming in and while it was strange that Brussels Airline didn't phone or email me using any of the personal details I have fed into their system so many times, I was grateful. So grateful to see my ID card again.
I had had this feeling that it might turn up, somehow and as a result I hadn't followed the protocol of blocking my ID. 120euro was saved. Helen and I did a small happy dance after leaving that counter.
So many beautiful things had been happening along the way however this seemed like a fairly serious slice of 'excellent'.
Then ... my bankcard wouldn't allow me to withdraw the money I knew was in it, in Italy, but I could buy lunch using it directly. So that was grand.
We flew ... still working, making new plans for other New Way of Seeing workshops and arrived, after an hour and 15 minutes, in Brussels. We made our way to the luggage claim area and began waiting. Helen's suitcase arrived. The clock ticked. Soon it became clear I was going to miss my 'once on the hour, every hour' bus back to Antwerp.
My suitcase never arrived. I recognised 'the look' on the faces of others waiting there. Their luggage hadn't arrived either. But on asking, I learned they'd just come from Florence. I was the only one missing my luggage from Milan.
I was tired and a little bit grouchy perhaps. We walked the length of the luggage claim hall until we found the queue at the Brussels Airlines missing luggage office. We were walking towards it when I noticed my bag, standing all alone in the middle of nowhere ...
I checked it for bombs and for drugs. It seemed fine. I imagine someone had taken my bag by accident and abandoned it there in the hall when they realised. Thank goodness the police hadn't wondered about it. So we left. Wondering whether it wasn't time to purchase some kind of lottery ticket.
I strolled over to the bankcard machine, wanting to access my money for a train ticket. Helen had decided she wasn't leaving until she was sure I wouldn't be walking to Antwerp.
My bankcard didn't work. I was tired. Disbelieving. I knew I had money there.
Helen reminded me that my money had been accessible directly in Milan so, we wandered on down to the trains level of the airport. Voila, I was able to use the card to purchase a ticket from the machine. A big thank you to you, BNP Paribas Fortis, what was that all about?
Finally, an hour and a half after landing, I was on a train heading directly for Antwerp. Windows down as we screamed our way through that hot summer's night. Gert met me at the bottom of the stairs in the station.
Note: why don't European train stations have escalators on every platform? What wrong-headed thinking leaves travelers almost destroying themselves carrying luggage up and down them? I pack as lightly as possible knowing this thing but it seems not very 'first world'. Belgium and Italy both fail in this respect and the men have long ago learned to look the other way when there's a women struggling up those stairs with her suitcase. No one but no one wants to help anyone else with their luggage. It has made me appreciate Kiwi blokes because I know they'd be there in a flash. But never mind ... I can do it. I pack lightly.
And so I am home. Yesterday looked and felt remarkably like a road smash. I had this idea that I've spent these past two weeks traveling at 100km p/h and that yesterday I hit the wall. I did laundry, I cleaned the house, I shopped for supplies, I cooked ... falling on the bed in-between times or working here at my computer.
Never mind. Whiny moment over, I'll leave you with a photograph I took back in Lezzeno in Italy. I have so many stories to tell about the exquisite palazzo located on the edge of Lake Como. That exquisite palazzo where Helen and I spent those last two nights in Italy.