Monday, April 18, 2011

On my way


Narceline drops me at Key West airport. Tahra and the kids gone already to New York. I'm as prepared as I can be. One suitcase and a backpack. Takes me approx five minutes to figure out how to swipe my passport through the automated check-in computer. Trying repeatedly to jam and slide it across the wrong crack in the machine. Pit and forehead sweat already. I am befuddled. Where's Tahra - she would know what to do here. Fleeting thoughts of abandoning trip - too hard, too hard.

At ticket counter with human, a minor victory: big bag weighs only 46 pounds. This means I can offload four pounds of granola and trail mix made for me by Tahra, from my backpack, and put it in the suitcase. Brief awkward scramble as I pull down heavy luggage, open and transfer the weighty goodies from my backpack into suitcase. Sunglasses clatter out of shirt pocket and slide across the floor as I bend over. All of my carefully selected possessions for the next eight months are suddenly exposed in the airport glare to ticket lady and passengers around me; underwear, socks, granola all together - SO WHAT? It's ok if food touches clean underwear. I force the fat ziplock bags into my hard shell and haul it back onto the scale: 49 lbs, there you go. Adrenalin pumping from passport swiping struggle and ugly repacking incident.

"Sir, where is your visa for Kenya."

"They told me I don't need a visa for Kenya, that I can get a transit visa at the airport in Nairobi."

"They who?"

"The people I will be working for in Sudan." I say with confidence, though I realize this is ridiculously meaningless. More pit sweat. Much more.

She looks dubious but folds my passport and sends me on.

I have entered the security line. There is a new problem. I am headed to one of the countries on the official U.S. List of Nations that Sponsor Terrorism, but I have neglected to sign my new passport. I have become a suspicious actor.


  1. Looking forward to hearing more, Tim! I always loved your dispatches. Your view looks a little like Jersey City, however. I'm suspicious that you've really left the country ... :)

  2. Well, you handled all of that airport stuff a lot better than I would have! And, you do seem to have arrived. We can't wait to hear more of your adventures!

  3. I'm sorry I didn't get to say goodbye to you. Anxious to hear about your experiences. It seems that you have already started off on the wrong foot, even without shoes.

  4. Hey Jen, Sharon and Joan - thanks for writing. Is this the proper way to respond to a blog comment? Great to hear from you. Yes it is a miracle that I got out here considering the harrowing little mishaps along the way. Love to everyone