When my time was up in Cairo, Egypt, I had a Turkish Airlines flight to heading back to the US with a stop in Istanbul, Turkey. It was going to be another all night ordeal. I left for the airport around 8:00PM. My first flight left at 3:00AM to Istanbul, so I spent most of my time sitting on the cold floor. My flight was from the new Terminal 3 which just opened earlier in 2009.
Upon arrival in Istanbul, I noticed I couldn’t just follow the crowd into the airport. But since my next flight was going to a certain security paranoid country, I had to get an extra interview and security check. I think in total, there were three places where I was questioned about my travels before going to the US.
Turkish Airlines was pretty good. I was pleasantly surprised when there was a power outlet at my seat. Although this was not the last leg of my trip. This airplane was going to Chicago, not Detroit. In my attempt to save some money I found it was cheaper to fly to Chicago and then take a train back home.
I couldn’t just walk through customs and enter the country when I arrived in Chicago. Instead, I was treated like a terrorist and got a search of my bags and was questioned again! I was also questioned about everything I was bringing into the country and they wanted to see it. I only bought a camera lens, a hard drive case, and some clothes for my whole time, but apparently that makes me suspicious with a one-way ticket. However, a few days later, a real terrorist did fly to Detroit with a one-way ticket as well. But I still don’t think it is any excuse for the one country that treats me the worst in the world is my home country.
I rushed out of the airport to get on the subway to make it to the train station. Just about everyone is able to get a seat in the subway, something I wasn’t used to. Then I had to walk outside in the freezing air without proper clothes for a couple blocks to get to the train station.
I got on the Amtrak train from Chicago to Pontiac, Michigan. After pulling out of the station, we stopped. For nearly an hour just waited. I wasn’t too surprised because I’ve taken this train before. The six hour ride turned into about eight hours. At least I had my PC and an electrical outlet. But I was sure getting tired, being this the second night with little to no sleep.
It was end of the line, Pontiac, Michigan at around 3:00AM. I was the only passenger to get off at this stop. There is no train station here, just a parking lot. I had no winter coat and it was windy and below freezing temperatures and my ride home was no where to be found. There was another car in the parking lot, I asked if I could borrow their phone, but they said no.
After about 15 minutes, I think I saw my uncle’s truck drive by. But it seemed he missed the parking lot and it was so dark he didn’t see me by the road. He looped around and finally arrived. For a while there I thought I would have to wonder the streets of Pontiac in the middle of the night looking for help.
I finally made it home around 3:30 in the morning and found it not much warmer inside my house. I had to adjust all the furnace vents and turn up the temperature to make it bearable. At least I was home after five months around the world.