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

  4 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 )

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

Sarah W Gaer

Author, Speaker, Thought Leader

The Dark Passport

A record of worldwide travel

Train to TBD

American expat life in Switzerland

Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

What's Up With Tianna?

A Millennial's Musings of the World.

Life in a State of Wanderlust

"Not all those who wander are lost..." --J.R.R. Tolkien


Traveling Fashion Designers 🌼

Adventures With Aia:

A senior project travel blog

hello stranger

stories on adventure, and travel, and real life


Stories from a mid-west girl in Macedonia

Nina Boe in the Balkans

This blog does not represent the US government, Peace Corps, or people of North Macedonia.


Live well & Enjoy.

Den's Blog

This is what life is like when you don't do things the easy way.

Audrey is (a)Broad

A Humorous and Factual Repository.

Audrey is (a)Broad

A Humorous and Factual Repository.

Emma & Nathan's Travels

Our worldwide travels beginning in the year 2017

Latitude with Attitude

Exploring the World Diplomatically

try imagining a place

some stories from a life in the foreign service

Teach Travel Budget

Personal Finance for English Teachers Abroad

The Next Dinner Party

So raise your glass

Bag Full of Rocks

My rocks are the memories from different adventures. I thought I would just leave this bag here.

Carpe Diem Creative

A soulful explorer living an inspired life


Time for adventure

Trailing Spouse Tales

My Life As An Expat Abroad


My thoughts.

Wright Outta Nowhere

Tales from a Serial Expat

from the back of beyond

Detroit --> Angola --> Chile --> Cambodia--> India

anchored . . . for the moment

the doings of the familia Calderón

I Think I'm Going to Like it Here

A little drama every day. ~Dramababyabroad


Wanderings & Wonderings

The Multicultural Marketer

Inclusion Isn't Optional


two humans, one cat, and our lives together in West Africa

travelin' the globe

my travels, my way. currently exploring eswatini and the rest of southern africa as a peace corps volunteer

Collecting Postcards

Foreign Service Officer and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer

a rambling collective

Short Fiction by Nicola Humphreys

Enchanted Forests

This Blog is about discovering the magic of forests in every aspect of life from a small plant in a metropolis to the forests themselves


Chimping around the world!

The Unlikely Diplomat

We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls. – Anais Nin

Countdown To Freedom

A blog about health, the keto diet, weight loss, family, relationships, travel & love!

Let's Go Somewhere

A life well-lived around the world.

Cu Placere

Joyce Hooley

%d bloggers like this: