LEAVING ON A JET PLANE
“To change your flight, it will either be $350 economy to Boston or $475 Business class to Providence,” Eduardo from Fall River who owns the quirky travel agency I used for my trip said via a text message over eight days ago. I arrived here in this place called Sao Miguel in the Azores, a virtual speck on the planet smack in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean barely a stones throw from the East Coast, but a world away over twelve days ago. I knew instantly that six days would never be enough to cover this beautiful landscape and typical of my spontaneous personality extended my trip as quickly as I could eat another bolo. There is something that happens to the spirit when traveling, especially solo. I blow all cares to the wind, worrying about money like calories disappear and like magic it seems like both are unlimited as my traveling companions.
Because I have a most fabulous team who cares for me as much as they do about my business, they rose to the occasion to allow me an extra six days away and I took door number two, Providence, business class. The flight leaving at 10:25 instead of 8:00am and arriving at a much more civilized time for my very accommodating son to pick me up. I am flying business class which is a complete luxury I do not take for granted. I have only had this experience once before with my dear brother friend, Ken who is a frequent flyer and got us business class on Lufthansa headed back from Spain.
There is something really over the top snobby about the business class experience. It reminds me of the stories I have read about first class and way below first class on ships coming from areas filled with wealthy tourists traveling on the top and immigrants on the bottom of the ship starting new lives in America. There is a slight discomfort in sassing to my own special line marked Sata Plus, being allowed two bags instead of one, being able to wait in a special lounge with free waters and unlimited snacks that gives me a little hesitation and cringe. I am not complaining, after all I paid for the benefits of this. So when I got to the security check point to place my bags through like everyone else there was no special treatment for the three bottles of pineapple liquor I had purchased at the pineapple plantation. I forgot that they couldn’t go in my bag as they were eight ounces each and I had already checked my luggage. I was asked whether I had any liquids and had just replied no when I watched my bags held up in the scanner. Shit, I have the three bottles of pineapple liquor totaling forty-five euros (about 60 dollars), I remembered and came clean immediately hoping that my business class ticket would allow the free pass. No such luck, confiscated promptly and as I offered the kind woman the bottles to enjoy for herself she assured me they would be going in the trash. What a waste. I secretly hoped someone was in the know of this pile of tourist trash and regularly scoped out the barrels so at least someone would get to enjoy. I’ll never know, but it was quite hilarious as I finally got through the gate and was faced with the duty free store selling the same pineapple liquor. I have to admit, I was tempted, but on principal I refused the temptation.
This glorious island got enough of my economics this last twelve days. From the plastic Virgin Mary statue, my friend Jane bought me, along with the t shirts and beautiful skirts, volcanic stone necklaces, heart shaped rocks, pottery and local teas I have the materials in my two pieces of luggage that will forever remind me of this past twelve days. But even though security took my pineapple liquor, there is not a cell in my body that does not feel one hundred percent in love with this island. As I told the kind woman at the gate that I had a great time and didn’t want to leave, I surprisingly welled up with tears- clearly a sign of a much needed and great vacation. For this I will allow the word journey. Breast cancer twice, learning of a genetic mutation in almost an entire family line, a mother who doesn’t speak to me, a lifelong best friend who went silent for no apparent reason with not even the consideration of an explanation, a double mastectomy, reconstruction surgery, that is not a journey. This has all been my life for the past three years, not a journey at all, more like a tragedy. but this trip, this magical past twelve days of delight and the kindest of people, the laughing, the crying and the laughing so hard you cry, this I will call a journey. My heart is full and I can’t wait to come back.