We made it to Zhengzhou! The flights are longer, the airport walks more endless, the planes smaller each year I take this trip. The thought creeps quickly into my inner dialogue - “...not coming back...”. The first 6 hours on the plane are the hardest, the time I’m sleeping, paradoxically. I worry about a DVT so even through my Ambien haze I move my feet, do ankle pumps, change my position. Then, there is the first cup of coffee around 7am my time, 10pm China time. Slowly things improve, especially after that delicious bowl of noodles at the Beijing airport, and a great dinner in Zhengzhou.
We collected our group all along the way. We are complete now, a group of 12. Some had challenges along the way, but there has never been a China trip without challenges! It’s part of the deal. Tomorrow we’re heading for Chenjiagou after our ritual breakfast at the Sofitel, and in the afternoon we’ll start our training. I’m really looking forward to settling into some deep Laojia Yilu with Chen Xiaoxing.
I know one thing. Walking through miles of airport hallways carrying my little 20L pack reminds me that I must take very little on my Camino next year. Walking with a pack is very different than walking without one.