21 August, 2016

Getting There...and Getting Back

Travel in economy class without an expense account is not glamorous.  It is draining, tedious, annoying and often infuriating, and I do it as often as possible. As much as I may attempt to lay out the plan and account for every eventuality, The Camino has taught me that when I plan, God laughs. Sometimes with a huge guffaw, He laughs at my attempts to control what in reality is entirely beyond my control.  All that I can do is purchase a ticket, therein lies the end of my control, with the click of a "buy now" widget. What happens after is at the whim of traffic, weather, and the TSA.

I have made famously hilarious OJ-type runs to catch a plane prior to the doors closing, but at 51 and with asthma, that is no longer possible. I am now always secretly hoping a transport cart will be going my way and I can hop on with a meek smile.  The distance between terminals and gates has grown as ever more enormous planes vie for space.  And yes, the real fear of global terrorism has prompted some pretty ridiculous security theatre which affects every aspect of modern travel.  The portable luggage scanner brought to the train platform in Madrid, long after the thousand of passengers in the station have already been filtered through the ticket-taker seems more designed to protect the monetary investment in the actual train than the safety of passengers.  The nun seemed quite affronted that she, too, had to have her handbag scanned.

The hours I spent standing in immigration lines these past weeks were devoted to chatting with some pretty interesting people.  I've determined to strike up conversations whenever possible to alleviate our shared misery, and overall it's worth the minor effort and occasional language gaps.  Global Entry is now my favorite government tax-collecting scheme.  My $100.00 investment for a five year card has saved me countless hours standing in line to get back into the USA, allowing me to make connecting flights and buses I would have otherwise missed. Yes, I had to drive an hour each way for a two-second fingerprinting and photo session, but it was worth it.  All that this means is that as more people catch on they will have to change the whole thing for a new scheme but for now I love it.

I do think that the agonies of travel are akin to the agonies of childbirth: the mind blocks them out otherwise you would never do it again, in this case only a week or two later.  I am reminded that travel must be of a minimum of two weeks in one location to be even minimally restorative.  Any less, and I am only just figuring out that I brought three pants and no shirts for my son and forgot to have the mail held.