I spent my last week in the US in the grand old state of Delaware, in my hometown of Lewes where my dad still lives in the same house I grew up in. The claim to fame for this used-to-be-tiny-but-is-now-annoyingly-touristy town is that it was the First Town in the First State, which sounds impressive until you realize that “first town” is really just some Dutchmen arriving on a boat in the early 1600s and deciding to take some choice sea-adjacent land from the local Native Americans, and “first state” just means that in the late 1700s after the Revolutionary War a bunch of white guys decided to ratify this newfangled Constitution thing and they happened to meet and vote just a couple of days before the neighboring white guys. But hey, I’m sure it’s something to be proud of.

My brother and his wife and kid came down from New York City for the weekend, and my mom’s best friend / my second mom Joy also drove down from Pittsburgh, so it was quite the full house. I don’t get to hang out with my 8-month-old niece very much because she’s too busy with daycare to come visit me in Chile, so we spent some quality time together time throwing paper plates off of the counter and eating plastic beach shovels. You know, typical auntie stuff.

I eventually made it back to Chile on Wednesday, and got totally played by karma. Previous trips to and from Chile have been the opposite of smooth, from getting stuck in Santiago overnight due to bad weather, to getting denied boarding in the US because they didn’t think I would be allowed to enter Chile, to waiting 4 hours for a PCR test upon arrival in Santiago. The moral of the story is, this trip was surprisingly and unusually smooth. I was feeling very smug as I was sitting in the airplane in Santiago about to take off for La Serena, an easy hourlong flight and then I would be home. I had taken quite the risky gamble and booked a domestic flight to La Serena less than two hours after my international arrival in Santiago, and I just barely managed to get to the check-in desk before the hour-before-departure checked bag deadline but I got there in time and successfully delivered my three suitcases and was feeling pretty good about myself.

That is, until I arrived in La Serena and one of my suitcases didn’t. I gave all three together to the same desk agent in Santiago but somehow only two of them made it onto the plane. The airline didn’t actually know where the third one was but said they’d look for it in Santiago and send it with the next plane if they found it, which didn’t inspire a ton of confidence. Also awkward because at least half of the suitcase was stuff that some Chilean folks had asked me to bring for them. Luckily the suitcase made it home later that night and I didn’t have to explain to my friends why their stuff never arrived.

When I walked into my apartment in Chile, I was surprised to see that Coni, Pía, and Naty had left for me a super cute pillow with a picture of us on the top of Half Dome in Yosemite, plus a bunch of groceries including a kilo of avocados, which is basically my love language, so what I’m trying to say is, they absolutely nailed it. My friends also planned a fun welcome dinner complete with a huge bowl of guac, hence the goofy grin in the photo. Also I think Dany was tickling me. So that’s a fun welcome home.