7,572 Miles Later…

My husband and I were at San Francisco International Airport on a warm night in late July. Bags checked, phone calls made, dinner enjoyed, black passports in hand. Time to go. I strolled up to the departure gate in a long queue of passengers for the flight to Sydney, trying to appear nonchalant. In the pit of my stomach was this dread that one of the eagle-eyed Qantas gate agents would confront me about my carry-on baggage weighing two dozen kilos above the limit. They were all the right dimensions, but if anyone lifted them, they would have been aghast.

I was ready with all my smiles and reasons – diplomatic posting and requirements to hand-carry government property and valuables, etc. Do you have any idea what a pain in the ass it is to PCS while carrying on all of your precious jewelry, personal records, computer equipment, electronics, prescription medications, training notes and work papers, and the embassy’s heavy paper medical package? Fortunately, I rocked up, was wished a pleasant flight, and breezed through. I settled into my aisle bulkhead seat with a sigh of relief.

Somehow the 13+ hour flight passed in a flash. I’d figured I would watch a few films, especially as I can never sleep sitting up. However, most of the flight was in pitch black, as Qantas tried to ease the strain of us leaving on a Thursday evening and miraculously arriving on a Saturday morning, and the glow of my TV in the dark cabin annoyed even me. As Friday disappeared into the Pacific Ocean, I listened to podcasts in the cool darkness, remaining alert as an owl while everyone around me dozed hour after hour.

Almost as easy as it looks

We had a two hour layover in Sydney, which ended up being barely enough time to pass immigration, baggage claim, agricultural inspection and customs, baggage recheck, security, and shuttle to the domestic terminal. But incredibly, since the Aussies have their act all the way together, it somehow went off relatively smoothly. After a short delay for fog, we flew the 50 minute flight to Canberra. I was initially peeved at having to gate-check my carry-ons, but the plane was so small I literally saw my bags going underneath.

I watched from the window as we flew at low altitude, the Sydney coast and suburbs disappearing behind us to the east. As the plane moved inland, the fog mysteriously thickened.

First glimpse of Canberra

We arrived at the airport and were picked up by our social sponsors, M and A. I was excited, but overly tired and shivering from our sudden arrival into winter.  They helped us with all of our baggage and M drove us in an embassy van to our hotel…while sitting on the right side of the car and driving on the left side of the road, I noted.

We had learned a few weeks earlier that unfortunately, we would have to spend our first three weeks in Australia in a hotel; embassy staff were preparing our house after the prior tenants PCS’d (known to FSOs as the “make-ready”).

Once our fabulous sponsors bid us farewell, my husband unpacked and went for a walk. It was lunchtime, but all I managed to do was to wash my face and lay down. When I awoke, it was fifteen hours later – 03:00 on Sunday morning and I thought, “I have to to go to work tomorrow!” I spent most of Sunday resting and getting organized for my first day at the embassy.

There is a part of me that feels I have come home, home to Australia; had someone told me during my 2005-2006 postgraduate studies in Sydney that someday I’d come back to Oz as an American diplomat, my jaw would have dropped. And yet it’s happened – oh lucky me!

Côte d’Ivoire National Day reception, Canberra

  3 comments for “7,572 Miles Later…

  1. fan-cy
    August 12, 2017 at 09:57

    Ohhh nooo, I wanted some more newsy news and an update on your foot ;). Must wait til next time! Glad you enjoyed the summer.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

A Diplomat's Wife

just another story

bama in the balkans

Experiences of a Peace Corps Volunteer in Macedonia

Adventures in Macedonia

A Peace Corps Story

Twelve Knots

My Journey to the Foreign Service

Sarah Jones Abroad

I am serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kyrgyzstan, come read about my advetures

Notes From Post

A Diplomat's Life Abroad

La Vie Overseas

Expat Life as a Foreign Service Wife

Raised in the Foreign Service

40 years later, a TCK looks at the world through the lens of Embassy family life

Around the World in Thirty Years

A little ditty about our adventures in the Foreign Service

What is Kirby Doing?: Stories from a post-Peace Corps (Close of Service) COS Trip

Galavanting around Southeast Asia, job searching, and curating @BeardsOfPeaceCorps on Instagram and Facebook

memories over mohinga

a peace corps memoir

Bembes Abroad

Two People, Two Dogs...One New Country

Sending Postcards Home!

From travels around the world, with love..

Kelsey Schmitt

Travel & Lifestyle

Nomads By Nature: The Adventures Continue

We are a foreign service family currently posted in Windhoek, Namibia!!

Adventures Abroad

tales from a life abroad.


Ramblings about the life of a Texpat.

Emma & Nathan's Travels

Our worldwide travels beginning in the year 2017

Diplomatic Baggage

Perspectives of a Trailing Spouse, etc.

A Foot in Each World

Life, love, education, and adventure in foreign service.

Culture Shock

Staying in the Honeymoon Phase

I'm here for the cookies

A trailing husband's vain search for cookies in an unjust world

Caitlin Jean Russell

Travel Tips, Photographs and Experiences

The Good Things Coming

A blog about people, places, and ideas

The Blog of Travel

Motorbikes, dogs and a lot of traveling.


A Traveled Life

The Trailing Spouse

My life as a trailing husband of a Foreign Service Officer

In-Flight Movie

Our Adventures in the Foreign Service

Audrey is (a)Broad

Things I do and see while living and traveling outside the USA


“Travel far enough, you meet yourself.” -Cloud Atlas

PM Adventures

pmadventures.com - Travel & Life Abroad

Cuddle Your Globe

Travel tips for beating the track and beyond from a travel expert who loves to hug the globe


travel and adventure


If travel is an addiction, I'm afflicted.

According to Athena

Our adventures in the Foreign Service with our dog, Athena

Diplomatic Status

Tales from My Foreign Service Life

Kids with Diplomatic Immunity

Chasing two kids around the globe

Unaccompanied Baggage

Unpacking the best U.S. Foreign Service blogs

The Wanderlust Diaries

A fine WordPress.com site

Eine Diplomatin aus Texas

Adventures of a Foreign Service Officer in training

%d bloggers like this: