The Road to Santiago.

September 15, 2004

Newbury, Massachusetts

Departure day had come! It was finally time to leave for Spain! I had packed everything last night, but just before leaving for the airport I was still working on sending out letters to raise money for the trip from friends, family, and neighbors. I already had sent out many letters of solicitation for my cause, but the donations had been slow coming in. So even though I had more work to do, I would have to leave it and take it on faith that the funds would come in while I was gone. The airline tickets had been purchased so there was no turning back now.

When to travel had been a big issue with me because of terrorism. But also because: I hate to fly. I really hate to fly! But that is the only practical way to get to Spain. So, to minimize my worry, I conjured up the auguries of the ancient Greeks. No, I didn’t read the entrails of a goat (I like goats too much) nor did I sacrifice any virgins (I don’t know many of them.) but I did try to put myself in the place of the oracle of Delphi and predict the optimum day to fly.

I had considered many different options. Traveling on September 11 would not be favorable for obvious reasons. The 16th might be risky because of the Jewish holiday, Rosh Hashanah. If I left on the 17th and arrived on the 18th it would be very difficult to be on the road by the 20th (the fourth anniversary of my cardiac surgery). It wouldn’t give me much time to decompress and get over jet lag. So the best time seemed to be the 15th. (Fortunately, for my piece of mind, I didn’t remember that Rosh Hashanah began at sundown of the 15th — just when I would be traveling. Oh, boy!! Let’s hope the terrorists don’t choose then to attack.)

I had a little problem when I arrived at the security checkpoint at Logan International Airport in Boston. I had been careful to pack anything that might be considered a potential weapon like my jack knife, scissors, and nail file in my check-through luggage. But when I handed over my carry-on luggage, put my change in the tray, and walked through the security gate, the alarm went off. After a recheck of my pockets, I still set off the alarm. So I had to step aside, take off my shoes and belt and assume the position of arms raised and legs spread. As the guard passed the wand around the right side of my waist, the beeping became louder. Ruling out a hip replacement, he finally decided it was something in the adjustable waistband of my pants and was not a threat. I was given permission to get dressed and proceed. Whew, I was afraid the next step would be to strip search me. But, hey, I’m the one worried about terrorism.

One big discomfort of a long, overnight trip is the size of the seats. Seats in AirBus planes are built for midgets – no leg room for a tall guy. (It’s the French getting back at us, I believe.) I know that I’m big, but not that big. I needed to use an extension for the seat belt. Fortunately the two seats next to me were vacant so I got the aisle seat as I had hoped. Special bonus — the armrest was broken so I was able to lift it up and spread myself out over all three seats for the seven-hour night flight. Praise the Lord.

The overall flight turned out to be pretty good, including the meal, but the entertainment was not so good. Since the movies and TV shows didn’t appeal to me, I switched to the "Easy Listening" sound track. Soon the monotonous music put me fast asleep. I believe I have found the cure for air flight insomnia!