Tuesday, July 21, 2009

We were back in our house only a couple days and unpacking all the boxes that had been in storage, when we noticed that Danielle had posted this note on her bedroom door, "Sorry it is messy but it is getting better and better - Danielle." We need one of those signs for the front door of the house! We've been back in Canada for three weeks, and there are still boxes in every room of the house - except, ironically, Danielle and Simon's rooms.

We left Niger with a real mix of emotions. It was hard to say goodbye again, especially after such a short visit. At the same time, as you can imagine, we were so excited to start the journey home. We weren't able to get out to the village where we had lived because the coming rainy season and an unreliable vehicle made it all a bit too tenuous. That was a big disappointment, but after a year of extraordinary experiences and so many plans that worked out so smoothly we can't spend too much time lamenting one thing that didn't happen.

Central market in Casablanca.

We spent two days and two nights in Casablanca, Morocco. Exploring the central market, playing on the beach, eating gelato and drinking fresh orange juice (not at the same time - that would be yucky!). We all agreed we'd like to go back.

Danielle outside our hotel room in Casablanca with braided hair and her new dress from Niger.

We moved back into our house the first week of July. John was back at work the following week. And then it was off to the cottage for a week because it's summer time in Canada. The weather has been unseasonably cold which has been a nice break for those of us who got way too much heat in West Africa - but we do feel bad for those who suffered through a cold winter and are longing for some nice warm summer days. Now we're back home and our only summer plans are catching up with family and friends.

This sunset picture was taken by Pam's dad last week at the cottage. It seems like a fitting picture to put at the end of a post about coming home. Our first stop when we left home on Day 1 of our journey was the cottage. We returned a year later with so much to celebrate and be thankful for. It reminded us of the most amazing sunset we saw as we landed at JFK airport. We had been circling in the air over New York City for almost an hour waiting out a thunderstorm. As we landed there were dark clouds encircling the city and we saw some spectacular lightning strikes. But behind the profile of Manhattan we saw one of the most golden sunsets we've ever seen. It was perfect. We had made it back across the ocean. We had traveled for 364 days and the next day would be a short hop to Toronto on Day 365 of our round the world journey. The scene of dark storm clouds kept at bay by the strength of the sun really was our "picture worth a thousand words" of thankfulness for a year of safety and good health, and experiences that we will cherish for the rest of our lives!

The flight to New York was our 26th flight in the year, and marked the first time not all our bags showed up on the luggage carousel. It would be another ten days before the two missing knapsacks were returned. They got separated from our other luggage during the stopover in Madrid, and then separated from each other. One bag went back to Madrid at least once. The other one bounced back and forth between New York and Toronto, and even Montreal, several times. It proved to be another good analogy of how we were feeling those first few days at home - just bouncing around, not really sure where to "land" and maybe a little bit reluctant to stop traveling.

Thanks to all of you who have been following our adventures, and for the words of encouragement that meant so much to us along the way. We hope that each day you experience the wonder and beauty of the world, no matter where you find yourself living and exploring it!

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