Things happen when I travel. Security things. Embarrassing things. To date, however, I’ve enjoyed relative security in my surroundings: no matter HOW wrongly things go, no matter how intimate the pat-down or HOW sharp the scissors found in my purse after four security checkpoints, I am on American soil. There’s only so much trouble I can find in a small town airport traveling to a haunted house convention. Throughout my prior travel follies, at least I was in America, with a measured understanding of what a mild rule breaker can expect. Traveling in the continental U.S. can’t get THAT bad, after all… not Tijuana jail bad or held-up-in-customs bad. It can get… mildly-amusing bad. You know, the “Don’t-say-bomb” type bad.
This all changes Monday as we travel to Mexico for a friend’s wedding. Some “friend.” Don’t they know the peril in which they put me? Customs peril. Border patrol peril. Luggage-search peril. And didn’t Dateline just do a special on international kidnappings?
Ah, yes… international travel. My children have traveled abroad without so much as a passing glance from border agents. My kids are nonchalant, travel savvy. So cool. But me? In Niagara Falls recently, my wild plan to dash across the Canadian border to get my passport stamped, then run back, ended quicker than a three-person barrel ride down the bridal veil falls. “What if they don’t let me back in?” I mused as I stood alone, staring down the turnstile at the border, trying to muster some bravery. It wasn’t really bravery I needed, more like a lobotomy to forget all the past travel issues reminding me of the risk I am to myself. It’s the sort of luck I have; I’d be the ONLY person on the planet to get the running-back-into-America thing wrong. That’s the Dana Luck.
So it has been that I’ve opted prudently to stay in America. I’ve gotten goooooood at continental travel. I barely get pat-downs anymore, I pack wisely. I have gotten SO good at the luggage-weight-game that I can tell within a pound how close I am to the 50 lb. maximum (I’m not kidding; I left a pair of shoes in my Niagara Falls hotel room because I knew my souvenirs would put me over the luggage weight limit).
I didn’t even have a passport before this whole our-friend’s-son-is-getting-married-in-Cancun deal. Passports were things for risk takers, like a harness or a parachute or SCUBA gear. I don’t need those things. I need things like tiny paper umbrellas, bandaids for senseless shoes, and boot flasks. I need featherlight luggage, Hotel Tonight, and the room service menu. Now I have a passport with the photo of a strained-looking girl, who was already stressing about the different sorts of trouble international travel held. Is everyone’s passport photo bad? Who’s going to see the photo anyway, right?
With my standard luck, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico, that’s who.
Dateline viewers, that’s also who.
I’m not sure why I’d tempt fate, but I’m about ready to. Do I wear anything different? Talk with an accent? Should I brush-up on my Español from high school? The only sentence I can remember is “The teacher’s hair is blue.” But THAT sentence got me sent to the corner of the classroom for the rest of the class period.
Great. My only Mexican experience so far ended in trouble. …WAITER!