|Me in the Alhambra (Generalife) with my long skirt on, 2003|
On the day before the invasion, a storm of biblical proportions crossed the Mediterranean and the world held it's breath. We watched waves wash restaurants built near the sand being fill with water. The next day it was March 20, 2003. The United States invaded.
Needless to say we were being careful what we did and what we said. We were no supporter of the war...in fact I just couldn't imagine that it would happen. It seemed insane to me. I knew in my heart of hearts that chaos loves a vacuum and we were just about to create a very large vacuum.
In the meantime in our own little world we went about our Spanish life. We shopped for cheese and Spanish hamon, ate dinner at 9 pm and lived near the beach. It was idyllic in so many ways although, as with all things, nothing was perfect.
Our son and his wife came from Saudi Arabia where they worked to travel with us for 10 days. My passport had been stolen by a gypsy in Madrid or we would have returned with them. It was very hard to send our family back without us because we were fearful for what was about to happen next.
As a side note, their compound and the school my son ran in Yanbu was attacked by terrorists later that that spring. But that is another story.
When we returned to the airport we found that the security that was tight after 9/11 was only more strict. Airports had become a wary place to be. Everyone was very watchful.
I might be noted that the Avian flu (H5N1) had raised it's ugly head in China that spring and facemasks were recommended if you were traveling through Vancouver. Vancouver was where it spread to first in North America. That only added another odd note to the trip.
We were asked if we had masks when we checked into our airline in Malaga. We returned to the United States through Great Britain and we entered the United States through Vancouver, BC.
I had been laying on the beach that morning because we had a late flight. Our luggage was in storage ready to be taken to the airport. I was carrying a large bag with a change of clothing and room for my swimwear to be taken home.
I changed my clothes in the rest room at a hotel for our flight. I donned the light linen jacket I had been wearing almost everyday for a month over a long skirt. I wore my ugly walking shoes. My straw hat did not fit in the carryon so I wore it. My carry on was a beach bag of sorts. Honestly, I did look like a clown but I was going home and I just didn't care. I suppose my hair was a mess and I don't remember putting on make-up.
When we arrived in Vancouver from the Mediterranean coast, it was April it was snowing. The Canadians were not that excited about how frigid the airport was and I was not dressed to sit in a cold waiting room for hours. So I bought a extra large sweatshirt in the airport and put it on over my light jacket and long skirt. I put my straw hat back on my head.
We were called for our flight and I walked calmly to the gate...ticket, passport, straw hat, sweatshirt, long skirt, ugly shoes and a beach bag in hand. The Border Control took one look at me and tried to decide which group of humans I belonged to. They were pretty sure I was up to something.
I was asked to remove the hat, sweatshirt, jacket, shoes. I may have been asked to lift my skirt but I don't remember that. They went through my beach bag and seearched my wet swimsuit and towel. My husband walked on ahead and only became aware that I wasn't right behind him when so much time passed. He was looking a tiny bit concerned when I finally arrived.
We have traveled all over the world since that day almost 14 years ago. Airports have gotten their act together and we all knew what to expect up until this last week. We will see what happens next. We are traveling to Mexico for two weeks soon. It will be interesting at least.
I am writing about this today because of current events. We all are very aware of the world's concerns but in the end we all think about how actions by our government will affect us personally. I cannot imagine that we aren't all going to be touched in some way by this latest turn of events.
Any thoughts or questions?