But I didn't tell anyone at home that I was coming back. Since I had the perfect set-up to surprise, why not? So I started telling family that I was thinking about coming back late fall/early winter, and that I would be HelpXing until then.
So I had many "lasts" during the month of September, although only Madrid friends knew about them. My last practice was on Thursday, September 20.
Running the Madrid Corre por Madrid 10K the following Sunday morning was actually a great way to start my last full day in Madrid. I got to see most of the major Madrid monuments and landmarks on the run, without any tourists or traffic!
And then it was Monday, September 24. I was in planes and airports all day, and then took a three-hour bus from Chicago to Madison, arriving at midnight (WI time). I got picked up by a friend downtown and crashed at his place. The next day he took me to my older brother's house downtown. I knocked on the door and hoped I had the right house.
One of his roommates answered and called for my brother. He was certainly shocked to see me, but didn't have a huge reaction because a) We (my siblings and I) aren't overly expressive in that regard, and b) His roommate was right there in the kitchen and had no idea the significance of my presence. I hung out there that afternoon and got him to organize a dinner with my parents for that evening (which they were a bit suspicious of because it was a Tuesday night). But they agreed to meet my brother in a nearby town for dinner.
We arrived at the restaurant after my parents, due to traffic and a stalled semi in the middle of an intersection. My brother called them and asked if they could come out, that he had to put something in their van. So I ducked down behind a car in the parking lot as we waited for them to come out. My brother told me when, and I jumped up! Surprise!
They had no idea (why would they?) and thus were caught completely off guard. They were shocked. And happy. After the initial shock, we headed back in to eat.
I was a bit jetlagged and in disbelief myself at where I was. The huge beer menu, extremely attentive waitress, and getting ID'd when I ordered a beer were all signs that I was no longer in Spain.
|Ma and Pa at the surprise dinner|
|Cooking brother and I at dinner|
I slept at my parents' house that night, hoping they could keep my arrival a secret just until that weekend. The sister's birthday was that Wednesday, so she was coming home for the weekend and relatives were coming over on Saturday. To me, that was the perfect recipe for more surprises.