Captains log: Star Date: 2004, Day 1 of a 117 Day Journey
Landing in Quito with Cotapaxi (A volcano that sits on the equator) in the distance.
My Mother’s Final Attempt to Keep Her Baby From Going Around the World
My trip began with some unexpected excitement. My mother and father drove me to the airport to wish me farewell, and as my mother gave me one last hug, she handed me a nondescript sealed envelope with a slight bulge in the middle and said, “Don’t open this until you are on the plane.” So, I tossed it in my pocket without much thought that my mother might be giving me contraband or a small explosive device.
Now to bring you up to date, my mother has been worried that I might die on this trip. And to be honest, her fears may not be unfounded, since I am not the brighter of her two children (more on this later.) I’m counting on basic survival instincts to keep me from meeting the grim-reaper. But back to the story…
As I proceeded through the check in process at the airport, I was immediately flagged as a terrorist by the infinite wisdom of the National Transportation Security Agency, because only a person with a death wish would have a one-way ticket to Ecuador. A tip from me to you: when you see SSSS on your boarding pass expect extra hassle at security, because you have been flagged as a person of suspicion. I've read that SSSS stands for Special Security Screening Service, but I believe it is the modern version of the old Gestapo SS of WWII.
As I go though the screening the security guard was quick to toss everything I had meticulously packed for 2 days into one small back pack all over the place, then push it in a pile and say “I don´t know how you fit it all in there…good luck getting it back in.” She then stumbles on my mother's non-descript envelope. "What's in here?” the Storm trooper asks. “I don´t know” I respond. She throws me a look of triumph as though she’s about to catch me in some sort of lie, exclaiming, “You don’t know?” “No, my mother just gave it to me, I don’t know what’s in it.” The detective in her quips, "Didn’t you answer ‘No' to the question ‘Has anyone asked you to carry anything on board?’” “Yeah, but I’m sure my mom isn’t trying to have me transport anything illegal” (wrong answer). Realizing I'm digging myself deeper, I offer to open it so she can see for herself, and get up out of the interrogation seat where they have stripped me of my shoes and belt. Which prompts the second TSA guard to scream, “SIT DOWN SIR” with his hand on his revolver. They run the envelope though the x-ray a couple of times, then they take it to the heavy duty screener that checks the molecular structure of the contents, and then they bring out the drug sniffing dogs and the bomb handling robots…Ok so I exaggerate on the dogs and the robot. But it was quite the ordeal…and I barely made my flight…which makes me think my mother may have purposefully given me a good luck charm on purpose to thwart all of my plans. (Dear Mom, we'llhave to have a little heart to heart talk when I return...it's time to let go!) But I did make my flight, and arrived in Quito just after midnight on the 29th.
I would like to take this time to thank my parents, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles for encouraging me in everything I do and for giving me the foundation to dream big and realize that the only thing stopping most people from their dreams is usually themselves, and time. So thank you for giving me the courage to follow this particular dream, I hope you enjoy the trip as well.
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