Having made our way through 5 airports over a period of 24 hours (Maui, LA, Phoenix, Houston, Managua) we arrived in Nicaragua with over 300 pounds of stuff. Not surprisingly, the Managua airport, with its 200 or so spectators pressed up against the glass airport walls to get a glimpse of the arrivals felt more familiar to us than LAX.

By the time we dragged our 8 bags into our room at Las Mercedes, we were close to meltdown. Our flight out of Maui had been cancelled, we had been re-routed and shuttled to a hotel where we managed to get 2 hours of sleep before dragging our bags back down to the airport for the next leg.

The worst part of the trip was the security checks, which involved bare feet on cold linoleum and getting “patted” down by unsmiling professionals in order to secure our safety. Please keep in mind that I have not flown anywhere on a big plane since 1999. After two of these episodes, I felt so insecure that I found myself avoiding eye contact with anyone wearing a jacket or a tie. Worse, I began evaluating people myself, wondering if that person in the cowboy hat and sunglass, for instance was the real threat behind all the fuss and should I be afraid of him or perhaps walk over and make a citizen’s arrest.

The security procedure involved removing our jewelry, jackets and shoes and placing them in gray plastic bins. Our laptop computer also had to be removed from its bag and placed in a bin. Then we stood in line for about 15 minutes, hugging ourselves for warmth and clutching our passports and boarding passes. After the contents of our bins and carry-on luggage were X-rayed, we were permitted to walk through the metal detector.

As if this wasn’t enough, we were then (for our safety) taken to a cubicle where our belongings and bodies were searched by hand. I found it impossible to smile during this procedure. I felt that if I didn’t take it seriously, the armed guard nearby would step up and arrest me.

After all was said and done, I felt a lot more insecure than I have in a long time and my appetite for traveling back and forth across the US border had shrunk to nil.

The next day, we got up at 4 a.m. again and started loading our bags. We flew from Managua to Bluefields, where we touched down and then on to Big Corn Island. A small taxi with broken door locks and Spanish music took us and all of our stuff across a potholed street in the rain, passing pedestrians with umbrellas.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

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