For the third time in a week, I catch the train up to New York - this time with my bags. The time has come to say goodbye to this side of the Atlantic Ocean and a summer of travelling from the south of Chile to the north of Canada.
New York is lived at a manic pace. When I try to get meaningful information about getting to JFK airport, the answering gabble, even when repeated, turns to nonsense by the time it reaches my ears, and total mush in the brain. Eventually, dragging and carrying two heavy bags up and down various stairs, I find a tiny office in a corner of a waiting room. Ticket? I enquire. They dont sell tickets, and my face drops. I dunno what to do - I need someone to hold my hand in this vast and echoing underground maze of a concrete tomb. So they take pity, and lead me to a bank of machines. I have no dollars, but credit cards are a wonderful invention. I am then bodily turned in the direction I need to go, and pushed off on my way.
On the train, the lady in the next seat is talkative, and incomprehensible. She's speaking English, but so fast, with such a strong accent, and the noise of the train - the combination is impossible, so I grin like the loopy foreigner - no, alien
in this country! - I am. She looks pleased. I feel like an exotic in this country. People really do love
the accent! And they all think I know the Queen. They are most impressed when I say I have seen her in the flesh, and her husband, and a couple of the kids.
I check in at the airport - no liquids, no toothpaste in the carry-on, and even shoes have to go through the scanners. Which is why I'm wearing my now-faded pink gummybears flipflops. I'm taking a couple of books and a handbag on board. How strange, to call it a handbag - so formal, for such a scruffy little red bag full of old receipts.
The flight home is the usual - force feeding, anodyne films, dozing in a variety of squashed positions. Used to that on a boat, though. As we approach Heathrow, landing gear down, runway below, the plane gives an almighty wobble. High-pitched, broken scream of fear from passengers - and for that split second, we know we will die that terrible death. But we're down, and safe. We wont be an incident.