Day 8: Heading home...

I woke in the morning, remembering that I had to fly out today, and while I'd printed out my itinerary for each of the various flights, and the car rental in FL, somehow I'd managed to lose the details for the flight from DR back to Miami. I'd realized it the night before, and figured at some point, we might head back to the MotoCaribe house so I could check my emailed flight details, as trying once again to get a data connection proved to be fruitless.

I'd mostly packed up my stuff back in 'airline mode,' which meant moving any chemicals like conditioner, bug spray, and the ibuprofen and immodium out of my tank bag which I'd be carrying on, into my luggage to be checked, pulling out my sole remaining clean pants and a mostly clean shirt (hand washed, I don't think it smelled..?), and stuffing my now nasty dirty clothes back into the compression sack to be packed away and checked.

I packed away my laptop and phone chargers, and did my usual check - wallet, check. Passport, check. Phone and smokes, check. I packed my helmet into my carry-on helmet case, along with my souvenirs minus the cigars, and stuff the rest of my bike gear into my Cabella's backpack...with packing out of the way, breakfast was calling, so I headed down with a twinge of melancholy, knowing this was my last day here...

Ed called Robert, to confirm flight times, as I knew my flight out of Miami was around 7pm, so was pretty sure my flight leaving DR was around 2pm, but really didn't want to miss it! Ok, there was some thought of faking an ear infection and staying for a few more days, telling my boss that I can't fly back with an ear infection, really was time to make it home, sadly.

Out front was a curious vehicle, the first time I'd seen one so far..

Policia de Turismo SUV
Badge closeup - Policia de Turismo

"Policia De Tourismo" = Tourist Police. A brief thought about trying to photograph the DNCD flashed through my head, but no armed men with handcuffs and weapons were forthcoming, so we figured it was a routine stop for coffee or lunch, or at least had nothing to do with us.

Robert came to pick us up in the van to head to the Santiago airport (Aeropuerto), which was mostly outside.

Note the big fan in the upper center of the picture? The center of the fan gives the company's name, 'Big Ass Fans'...very appropriately named! :-)

Ed, Robert and Chris walked me through checkin and customs, which was helpful, but by comparison to my experience at Miami International coming to DR, this was a breeze. Show passport at the counter, fill out a declarations and customs form, hand it in going through the entry into security, and then on towards the plane. We said our goodbyes, and I headed off through security after buying a book to read, and glancing through the few shops in the event something I 'really had to have' popped up (it didn't).

Aeropuerto / Airport

The flight was uneventful, until of course, reaching Miami International. I'd been concerned, luggage-wise, about not having a single trip booked, meaning from DR back to my end destination, regardless of the number of flights involved, but it turned out not to matter, as any International flights landing in Miami first still have to have any checked luggage retrieved manually, then gone through customs, before being checked back in to any future connecting flight.

Once the bags are collected, which was fun in and of itself, as they changed which conveyor our flight's luggage was coming through to, seemingly without notifying anyone in any form that I had seen or heard, you get to get on the longish line through customs, where a few of us were given a lecture of how, while there's no indication whatsoever of this, there are imaginary discrete lines in front of each of the customs booths, and we were officially 'no in line,' although there were only 6 of us waiting on the end 3 booths at that point. Wow, I want that job, to be a total ass while people are already confused..not. :-/

Nascar Shop in US Airport..

After passing through that section and showing my passport and declaration form, the bags are checked through again, then you're 'aimed' at a specific color of dotted circles on the floor, while they don't tell you why you're following a certain color. As it turns out, mine was the, 'ok, you're probably not a terrorist, go home' line..yay for me. However, I had a connecting flight...somewhere, so I doubled back to get attitude from some airport employee, when I simply wanted to know how to find my connecting flight. I thanked her for nothing, walked outside as I did have some time yet, had a smoke, and called my friend to make sure she remembered she was picking me up and to say hello...which apparently I wasn't in the best place to call from, as a small ton of loud trucks and shuttles were passing by.

Eventually, I made it onto the connecting flight, and was greeted with this 'reminder' of being what some people call 'home,' yet somehow I just can't. :-/ (Yes, that is indeed a NASCAR shop, in an airport!)

Made it home late, but at least it was Labor Day, and I had another full day before going back to the grind...