Have you ever been paged at the airport? In a foreign coutry? It’s odd. It takes you much longer to recognize your own name. My husband left me in the food court while he popped over to the gate to answer the page.
…. Wait, before I go on, let me back up two years before then….
2009 was a great travel year for my husband and I; In April I went solo for a week to Oahu by way of San Francisco to visit with friends. In June we went to Riviera Maya and in October to Grand Cayman. No sooner were we back from the island that it was his turn for a quick solo trip to visit family in Florida. Whew. Like I said, great travel year.
2009 was also the year I started to collect beach sand. But; the idea did not find me until October. This was probably fitting, as it aligned with the trip to Grand Cayman; the first Caribbean beach I ever went to, and the place we had honeymooned many years before. I brought home a little bit of Cayman Island direct from Seven Mile Beach. It was the start of my own special collection. My first bits of beach in a bottle.
I had missed out on grabbing sand from Hawaii and Mexico so I urged my husband to bring sand back with him from Siesta Key beach. Only since I had personally been there years before was it okay that I was not scooping it myself. Soon would be the first lesson in bringing home beach: a gallon size bag of very powdery white sand in your carry-on will likely get you a second look at airport security. Fortunately for me – and my husband – TSA was able to confirm, after a thorough luggage inspection, it was not some other illegal contraband! It is now proudly on my display shelf, and I giggle a bit each time I see it.
We returned with some sand – ahem, much smaller amounts – from Mexico in 2010 without a problem. I simply placed it in my checked bag. I figured if TSA or whoever needed to look, they were more than welcome (and really how would I stop them…?). In Punta Cana this year I watched a woman filling an empty water bottle with some sand and thought both that she was a kindred spirit and pretty clever. I had packed an extra quart-ziplock for my precious cargo. On the day we left to come home I followed my routine, placing my sand souvenir in my checked bag.
… and here we are to back to the beginning of this post.
Returning from the gate,my husband told me the reason for the page. “They said there was a problem with our luggage.” Immediately I knew what it was; a quart size bag of sand. Not that knowing that made the next hour any easier to live though. Suppressing the memory of a “Locked up Abroad” episode we watched in our hotel room just nights earlier, we were escorted to a waiting area while our bag was retrieved. Although confident the problem was the sand, I still failed not to appear nervous in 95+ degree weather, standing just off the tarmac and feeling the clock hands move closer to our flight departure time.
Finally, around the corner came our suitcase, three other men and (I assume) a drug-sniffing dog. Hmm. This just got interesting. “Is this your bag?” they asked. “Yes….” I answered…
Very fairly and professionally the agents proceeded to open our bag; feeling for hidden compartments, neatly turning over the few items stacked and folded in the bag. (Yes; I admit to folding things even on the return trip home.) My husband and I quietly observed until the moment they went where I was waiting the whole time; the pocket. There was, I am certain of it, a certain glance exchanged among the agents… and held breath finally released by me. Sand. Simply a bag of sand. The dog was even bored by the exercise. With that, the bag was zipped and we were on our way to board the plane. Who needs a drink?
When we landed for our connecting flight in Miami, knowing we’d have to clear customs, immigration and check our bags again, I pulled the bag of sand out of the large suitcase and walked it through security with my carry on. I placed it in one of those gray bins and …meeting eyes with the x-ray machine attendant, I pointed to my bin before it pressed past those black strips of fabric and said “SAND.”
I’m pretty sure I have found my new travel method. Personally announcing my souvenir to Mr Airport Security. We’ll see… next time.