Kristina and David's Round-The-World Journal:
New Haven, CT to Los Angeles, CA USA

Kristina's Journal:
May 21, 1999                                  Back in the USA

    We flew from Geneva to JFK so we could stop in New Haven CT for five days for David's sister's graduation from Yale, before going home to Los Angeles.

    My first impressions after being up for 24 hours straight:

Culture Shock, Part 1
    In the airport, it doesn't sink in yet that we are here. It just feels like any one of so many airports that we have been in in the last nine months, with one exception; everyone speaks English.
    We go to an ATM and are accosted by new money. It's so strange looking to us, so foreign.
    After renting our car, and getting on the toll roads of NY state, we are shocked at the sheer size of the vehicles. In Europe, all cars are small, the largest being a big, expensive Mercedes. Suddenly, we are surrounded by gas-guzzeling Caddies, Buicks, and we ourselves, are in a brand new Oldsmobile, a relative giant compared to our little Peugeot back in Switzerland.
    On our drive to Connecticut, there are Mc Donald's at every off ramp. Hungry, we stop at one at midnight. The drive thru attendant forgets to give us our Coke and runs out the back door to our car to give it to us.
    As we check into out hotel, we are shocked the the rudeness and abrasiveness from hotel clerk. We figure it must be an East Coast thing.
    Suddenly, we have cable TV with 40 channels all in English. Only problem is that they are filled with talk shows and bad commercials.

Culture Shock, Part 2

    In New Haven, we go to a Thai restaurant with David's family for dinner. In the Ladies Room, I find that the woman ahead of me in the stall has left a bag behind. My first thought was " I have to say something to her, how do I do it?" I was so used to being in a place where I don't speak the language, and therefore could not communicate with the people around me, that I was momentarily dumbfounded. Then I realized that that all I had to do was speak and she would understand me! What an amazing concept!

June 8,1999                                                  Los Angeles

    Well, we came home to find that nothing had changed except that my Mom finally quit smoking after 34 years! We were so proud.
    Our second weekend home we had our "Coming Home" party and everyone said, "it feels like we just had the Bon Voyage last month!" But in reality it was last August. We did a "show and tell" with all our souvenirs and had our big world map up with all the pins in it and string connecting the spots along our route. We also set up a larger monitor to our computer to have a revolving slide show of  over 740 digital pictures.

Coming back to real life is a hassle and a half.
    This is the real let down of coming home after such an amazing trip. There is the inevitable reluctance to jump right back into the swing of things. The resistance to getting a job. And then there are the little nuisances like how difficult it is to get  insurance on a non-registered car. First we had to do the whole car insurance application process over again. Then I had to re-register my car which was registered as a non-operational vehicle. But before that I had to have it get a smog tested. Then, when I went to register it with insurance and smog certificate in hand, I was in for a big surprise! I had to pay for the entire year of registration even though the car had not been used! Seems that if you operate the vehicle even one day in the non-operational year, you have to pay for entire year of registration. So, I could have waited until September to register the car, or pay for an entire year for three months of use. Well, you got to have a car to live in LA. So, basically, having it not registered saved me no money at all. But I'm still glad we didn't sell our cars before we left. At least they are paid for and we didn't have to come home to new car payments.
    One thing to keep in mind when budgeting for a long trip are the expenses that you will have to come back to. For example, deposits for an apartment, utilities deposits, new furniture (especially if you sold everything before you left), even a new car can add up quickly. We're really glad we saved a bit extra too come home to.

July 9, 1999                                                 San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico

    We have come full circle from last year this time. The trip is almost the same, see last year's journal for the typical day here.
    I no longer feel that coming here is traveling. It is a vacation for sure, but that loses meaning when one is not working.
    After reading the journal of friends Dave and Kelly Burns, at pathlesstraveled.com, I am compelled to travel again. I ache to be back on the road again with all the new sights and smells, but it is just not possible with no money.
    Dave has a job starting in September, teaching second grade at an elementary school near our house. I am glad we came home when we did and thus, have a little money left in the bank. It will be close though, unless I get a job soon.
    I finished our budget page today and realized that we did pretty good with our money, considering all we did. See budget page for details.

July 24, 1999                                                                Lake Arrowhead, CA

    We are up in the beautiful San Bernadino mountains at a cabin owned by David's parents. He and his friend Randy are building a deck outside.
    In the last couple of weeks I have come to make some life changing decisions. The first is that I am going back to work for the company I worked for before I left. However, I won't be working as a chef, I'll be working out of the corporate office as a liaison between the restaurants' management staff and the financial department of the company. The job has many facets and I'm sure to learn a lot of new stuff. But it will be strange going back to work after 13 months off and then not donning my chef's whites. I have to get an entirely new "work wardrobe"!
    The second decision is where to go next! Last week we met an amazing woman who went to Peru a few months ago for two weeks, by herself. She hiked the Inca Trail up to Machu Picchu and it looked like an incredible experience. So, hopefully next summer I will take my paltry two weeks off and we will go to Peru! And yes, next year you can read about it all right here! To anyone out there who has done this trek before, I would love to hear from you.



If you have comments or suggestions,
email us at krisdave@dnai.com
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 last updated on August 8, 1999