Thursday, February 16, 2017

the reluctant tourist

My backpack hates to travel.

That is the only conclusion I can draw from my last two trips. Or, at least, the only conclusion I am wiling to share with you. There are others.

When Darrel, Christy, and I drove up to Pátzcuaro last week, I packed a small suitcase with clothes, and, more importantly, tossed my camera, computer, Kindle, and assortred electronic paraphernalia (the usual tools of Mexpatriate’s trade) into my black backpack.

No trip is complete without the ability to record it for posterity. As I age, my best memory is what I have written. If it is not reduced to paper, it did not happen.

While unloading the car in Pátzcuaro, I discovered something was missing. My backpack. Felipe is kind enough to provide internet access in his condominium. But, without my computer, Mexpatriate was going to be off line off line for a week. And it was.

I thought I had learned my lesson. Hold on to the backpack. If you recall, I lost a backpack filled with all of my electronic equipment just over two years ago by failing to follow that rule (everything is new again).

On Wednesday, Darrel and Christy dropped me at the Manzanillo airport for my flight to Reno. Because my backpack contained all of my electronics along with my medication, travel documents, and money, it was not going to leave my sight. Even on the airplane, it was stored under the seat rather than in the overhead bin.

The Los Angeles airport has greatly improved its immigration process. The agents are gone. That process has been replaced with kiosks that print an entry and customs form. Within seconds, I was on my way for the long walk to the luggage carousel.

And luck was with me again. I had barely put down my backpack to readjust the straps when both of my suitcases came careening down the luggage chute. Excited with my good fortune, I grabbed both cases and sped through the customs process without a single question.

That is, until the one-way doors closed behind me. I reached for my backpack to pull out my flight information to Reno. It was not there. It was not there because the information was in my backpack -- and my backpack was still resting against the side of the luggage carousel. On  the other side of the door.

Eventually, I made my way to the Alaska customer service counter -- along with a young Korean and his Mexican wife, who had left a stroller behind. After an hour's wait of walky-talky tag, we were reassured our lost items were in the hands of the Alaska representatives. That was the good news.

The bad news (because there is always bad news in situations like this) was that all of the passengers on our flight, and an even larger flight from Ixtapa, would have to clear the customs area before the Alaska representative could bring the pieces out (after being thoroughly inspected by the customs agents).

I fully understood the reasoning. It was like performing penance. I left my bag behind. Now, I needed to be shamed.

The full process took just under three hours. I boarded my Reno flight with five minutes to spare.

And that is where I am right now. Sitting in my Reno residence peering out on the tawny hills as a snow storm tries to breach the Sierras.

My backpack is now resting in a chair. Before I fly to Perth on Sunday, I am going to have a long chat with it. From here on out, we are going to be as inseparable as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

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