So the happy wanderer has finally returned.
A two-hour delay on a transatlantic flight was a drop in the ocean when you’ve been counting the days before your eldest daughter comes home from a three-month road trip around South America.
When daughter #1 and her pal strolled through the arrival gate at Manchester Airport around 8.30am on Tuesday, it felt like they were bobbing along in slow motion to Beyoncé.
On the car ride home, they told tales they hadn’t shared on the edited highlights of their daily Instagram posts because they knew we’d have been on the first flight out to bring them home if they had.
For example, people they knew who were staying in their hostel in Colombia were robbed at gunpoint in broad daylight in a pretty affluent neighbourhood.
Does that set off a klaxon in your head? It did in mine.
Despite travelling thousands of miles through Argentina, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Colombia, carrying rucksacks the size and weight of a big dog on their backs, the pair of them looked happy and healthy, if a bit too lean. At 19 you’re made out of Teflon and are totally fearless. After three months of inching through a continent that’s renowned for its, er, vibrancy, the place we call home looks to them like the sleepy little university city that it is.
We called in at the boss’ school on the way home where the reception was positively Mediterranean. Less so from the dog, who treated daughter #1 like a stranger.
Within five minutes of walking through our front door daughter #1 noticed three things. 1. You can drink the tap water. 2. You can flush toilet paper. 3. You can put valuables down without fear of them being stolen.
Then she emptied her rucksack, but not before getting me to try it on, “Heavy? Try lugging that about for hours in 30 degree heat!” put a wash on and then went to bed for the afternoon.
Don’t get too comfortable though. Thanks to some careful financial planning on the road, she’s got a few quid left and is off to Morocco for four days on Sunday. Then a girls’ holiday (10 of them, God help us) to Greece next month.