Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States


Costa Rica Trip (Day 9)

January 4 - Home to Sacramento
Our airport shuttle didn't leave the hotel until 9am, which was the latest departure time we've had all trip. So we got to have a relatively leisurely morning to pack and eat breakfast, although I wasn't able to get my huevos duros (why does it take so long to boil eggs in this country???). We managed to fit all of our souvenirs into our bags, although the United staff at the airport did refer to my carry-on as "chubby" -- ha!

The airport shuttle passengers included some of the people Mr. E and I had been referring to as "los otros peligrosos" (the dangerous others) throughout our journey. These were folks on the parallel Caravan tour, who followed the exact same itinerary and schedule as we did but were led by a different Tour Director, occasionally stayed in different hotels (ours were better!), and had a staggered daily timeline so that our meals and local tours didn't overlap or conflict.

We had lots of time to wait at the airport, so we did some final shopping -- including the purchase of a bottle of Cacique Guaro at Duty Free ($10) -- and then Mr. E spotted the United Global Alliance Lounge, where we have access thanks to his United Premier status. So we got to wait in a comfortable environment, and I had a veggie omelette as an early lunch before we boarded our flight.

Oddly, we had a final security screening in the jetway during the boarding process. This was particularly annoying because it was unexpected; conducted by rather rude security staff; and included disposing of any non-Duty Free beverages, even water in a personal water bottle. Mr. E noted afterward that he'd had a similar experience when returning from China. Luckily, we had very friendly flight attendants, so I was able to refill my water bottle before the flight took off.

We had thought about hanging out at the United Club in Houston during our layover, but we had no time for any extra activities, due to the extremely long lines at passport control:

When we finally got our passports cleared, we still had to go through another security line for our carry-on bags. I was relieved to learn from a TSA agent that Duty Free liquids are screened in special equipment, so they don't need to be discarded like other liquids. Unfortunately, the [very slow] male TSA agent who attempted to screen my bottle of Cacique Guaro was unsuccessful. Because of this, I also was subject to additional screening, including a search of my carry-on bags and a pat-down. Fortunately, he had to ask his female supervisor to do the pat-down, and she was very sympathetic to my plight, as I lamented the loss of my Cacique Guaro. She instructed the other agent to do one more surface test on the bottle, which came back clear, and since nothing else in my bags or on my person set off any alarms, I was free to take the bottle with me. Victory!

During this entire ordeal, Mr. E was heading towards the gate and picking up some dinner for us on the way, since I didn't know how long my security issue would take to resolve. The rest of the trip was uneventful, and we returned home to two very vocal kitties who welcomed us with lots of purrs and snuggles.

Que bueno viaje!


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