Sunday, September 26, 2021

sneaking out of the country

I have made several allusions to my around-the-world odyssey as if it were Ulysses's.

No, I am not so steeped in hubris that I think I am Homer. But, when I travel, I want to encounter difficulties that will amuse future dinner guests. Like being chased down a hill in Salvador de Bahia by a prostitute, or being led too far into the bowels of the slums of Alexandria.

Well, nothing like that happened in Los Angeles today. But I am glad that I arrived here a day early for my trip. Two potential snares arose that could have cut my trip short. Both of them involving my covid test to get back into The States.

When I last talked with the customer service agents at Japan Airlines and Emirates, no one could answer my question as to the documents that would get me on the flights to accomplish this little ego trip. Japan has excluded all foreigners (with very few exceptions, of which, I am not one). 

But I am not going to Japan. I am just going to a Japanese airport to connect to an Emirates flight. According to the official Japanese website, I will not need to fill out all of the certificates and accompanying covid tests that are required to actually go to Japan. But no one would verify that on the telephone for me.

So, I thought I had a brilliant solution. I would walk over to the airport and talk to a JAL ticket agent. My question was going to be simple: When I show up tomorrow, what documents will get me on the airplane?

Did you notice the "was going to be" construction? The idea may have been brilliant, but its execution was a bust. The JAL agents are at the counters only when processing passengers for flights. And all of the morning and afternoon flights were gone by the time I arrived. No JAL representatives in sight.

My second unanswered question was for Emirates. How can I get a boarding pass at the Tokyo airport if I cannot leave the secured area without a visa?

A very helpful customer service representative snapped to at what was an original question for her. But she gave me the same answer I got on the telephone. She did not know. Because my flight is not linked to the JAL flight, I will have to wing it when I get to Tokyo. Same story for when I get to Dubai. But she did wish me well.

For a moment, she caught me off guard when she informed me I was not even listed in the computer. Before I could slip into a coma, she laughed and said she was looking at the wrong date. I was in the computer. But she could do nothing to help me in Los Angeles.

That means I still am not certain that I will be allowed to board the JAL flight tomorrow in Los Angeles -- or the Emirates flight early on Wednesday morning. But I am committed to this mission.

I did know that I would need a covid test to get back into the United States. It turns out the timing was a bit problematic. I waited as late in the day as I could to stay within the 72-hour test period required to reenter the country. The procedure was a lot more convoluted than the simple procedure of being tested in Melaque. But it has been done.

I had a friend recently tell me that he was heading north from Mexico. The one thing that he was fearful of was that his covid test might come back positive even though he had no exposure and no symptoms. He was a bit surprised when I told him that I never even consider the possibility that the test might be positive. Nor was I today. And it wasn't.

The second speed bump, of which  I had no idea even existed, was a certificate that some countries require in addition to the covid test itself. It turns out Dubai and Japan are two of those countries. I am still unsure whether or not a negative test is required for either airport, but I have both in hand now. It will probably make the lives of the ticketing agents I encounter a bit easier.

Those of you who remember John Wilson, AKA John Calypso, will recall that he usually populated his posts with two stories. In an homage to him, here is my second part.

Signs entrance me. Especially those where humor can be ferreted out. Without a lot of commentary, I offer you three I saw today in, to keep up The Odyssey analogy, the Land of the Lotus Eaters.

There has to be some sort of back story for this sign. I can imagine several. And they are all undoubtedly incorrect.

This business combination (a Thai restaurant, a live fish store, and an oriental massage parlor) looks like something Woody Allen would cook up as a reductive cultural stereotype. But there it is.

And then there is this. It sent my mind off on an entirely different track until I re-read the company name.

So, there you have it. My take on what Los Angeles has offered to American culture.

When we next chat, I hope to be in Tokyo.

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