Travels and Tribulations Part I
Over the last few years I have learned that one of the greatest challenges for a large family is traveling. Just getting to the airport can be a challenge. Last week as we planned our trip back to the states, our first obstacle was getting to the airport in San Jose. Now you can’t simply take a car when you have 7 passengers and 20 bags. So we had to rent a 15 passenger van, stuff to the gills and head inland to San Jose. No problem, we have done it dozens of times, we just budget an extra 15 minutes for every loading and unloading situation. The best part is when we tell the shuttle driver that we need a ride to the airport. I always enjoy looking at their face as they size me up and then size up our bags. “All of those bags are yours?” is pretty much standard. My standard response ” No, I have one carry on, those are all my wife’s bags.”
Once we get to the airport, we do the old bag shuffle. The shuffle consists of taking six bags in with three people, leaving two with the bags inside and the rest with the bags outside. We then shuffle bags from the outside group to the inside group, usually three to four trips. We then shuttle from inside to the check in lane, is a similar but shorter process. We then watch as the agents do their best to avoid having us show up at their line. Maybe taking an extra minute or two with that quite old couple on their way to Albuquerque. Until that one unsuspecting agent raises her hand, the one hidden behind the big man in a Hawaii shirt and straw hat, with a backpack that she can’t see around to see us waiting in line. Once at the window, the kids find a seat and a couple stay with me to man the bags. If we get lucky, we have everyone on one reservation. If we get really lucky we can sit close together.
Security is always another adventure. We have never, not once ever got through security without and extra pat down or an extra bag check. Our carry ons are maxed out, two a piece, and this last trip four of them were guitars, which are great fun lugging through an airport and enduring the Partridge family jokes. We are actually getting efficient at making it through security, and recently we have improved to the point where we hardly every leave anyone or anything behind any more.
However, the more things go smoothly at the beginning the more concerned I am that something is going to go haywire down the line. This time it started early. We arrived very early and had two hours to kill after checking in and security, just the way I like it. So out came ipads, laptops and iphones. Time to kill a couple hours. Then over the loud speaker in a thick Spanish accent I heard Kathie Goffrey being paged, and deduced that it was meant for our Kassie. Upon approaching the counter I was greeted with an odd question ” do you have any thing dangerous or corrosive in any of your bags? ” Dangerous? corrosive? What? No, nothing. “Are you sure? ” Well I am not sure, but I don’t think so. Eventually, after a lengthy Spanglish conversation I am convinced, gently, that I need to accompany a security team to watch them go through my bags, or specifically Kassie’s bag, which isn’t really her bag, it is just a bag assigned to her.
In typical Costa Rica style, the trip downstairs was slow, riddled with stops and confusion, and quite a bit of flirting from the younger male agent. Eventually we made it downstairs backwards through customs, security and through several coded and locked doors. We emerged in the belly of the beast, the baggage sorting belt area. There I saw hundreds of bags, dozens of bag sorter dudes and I received a lot of curious stares flanked by my three security agents. I was informed that there was something that looked like a gun in one of our bags. Instantly I knew, Jeremy’s Airsoft gun. So again, typical of Costa Rica I watched as ten people stood around the X-ray machine chosen for our bag and watched them run it through time and time again. I tried to explain the best I could in Spanish that this was a toy. But I will admit that I was a bit nervous when then finally zipped the bag open, shuffled through a pillow and clothes and begin pulling out a very realistic looking air soft rifle. I was fully relieved to see an orange tip on the rifle, but not fully convinced they knew what that meant. After a grilling, multiple photographs, and paperwork in triplicate. They were finally convinced that this was a toy gun. By this time about 45 minutes had passed and Tracy was understandably worried. She had seen the movies where they take you to a little room and grill you, take your passport and you are never heard from again. For a while I thought it may come to that as the head security guard could not figure out how to get us out of the baggage area. Again, long stares, pointing and weird looks as we stood by the door for another 15 minutes waiting for help, between the occasional ringing of the alarm from the secured door.
As we traveled back through customs and security, I at least I knew that the trouble portion of our trip was behind us and I could now travel in peace. Relieved and relaxed they returned me to the gate just in time to board and gate check our guitars. I had nothing else to worry about, get on the plane, land in Orlando, get our rental car, head to our house and it was all good. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Part II to come.