I'm at the airport, boarding pass in hand, my quart-sized plastic bag bulging with more teeny bottles, tubes, and 3-oz. or less containers of creams, conditioners, contact lens solutions, toothpaste, and everything but shampoo (which I forgot) than anyone else could ever cram in. I remove my shoes, jacket, and hat and place them in one bin, manage to lift my suitcase without giving myself a hernia, add my laptop case (no laptop, but lots of room for my stuff) to the conveyer belt, and breeze through the security check. Except I don't breeze through.
The guard is talking through his headset and asks me to wait, while two female security guards approach. They explain that they will escort my belongings and me into a screened area. There's something on my person that is suspicious.
Lesson Numero Uno: Do not wear your money belt when you go through security.
"It's my money belt," I say, as the two exchange glances. I start to lift my shirt (a little, just to prove it), but they caution me (whether out of fear of my drawing a weapon or fear of my doing a striptease, I don't know), "Not here!"
We enter the roomlet, they close the door, and they pat my middle. They are actually quite polite and we joke around and it's not terrible or scary for me -- or for them.
I wait to board the plane. And wait. And wait.
We take off on time. The airplane is crammed to the gills (yes, I know that planes don't have gills....)with humans. The one seated next to me is an unhappy camper. He wants to change seats, but there are none available. He's critical of everything to do with the airline, our fellow passengersand life in general: the pilot is speaking too loudly when he announces our route, somebody crushed his jacket under their bag, the seats are too small, blah blah blah. He calms down when we start talking about what he does, his travels, how he should have learned Spanish instead of French, and so on.
We arrive in Charlotte and, after grabbing a coffee and bagel with cheddar and egg, I'm really off to Mexico.
Due to a hurricane, we take a round-about route, which will bring us in to Mexico City about an hour later than planned.
I'm seated next to two lovely Mexican women. One works in a plum processing plant and shows me a thousand pictures of her workplace and the plum assembly line. She also shows me photos of her family, and we find common ground in discussing the wonders of yard sales. The other woman is a white-knuckled seat gripper. Her body is so tense that she looks as if she'll break every time we hit an air bump. She snagged the window seat but refuses to open the shade because she's afraid to look out. (I hate to fly, too, but I have handed my fate over to the pilot and my prayers; I become religious when I fly.) The other woman and I finally insist that White Knuckles close her eyes and open the shade. The two of us watch as Mexico City sprawls out into forever and ever.
No problem with Customs. I'm here!