Let me back up a little and reflect, for a moment, with all seriousness. There was a long time I would not have blogged about this story. Life has a way of not turning out like you expect it to (and from where I stand today can I just say thank goodness for that!) and the reason I took this trip would turn out to be something I was ashamed of for a while. It was easier not to talk about it than to suffer the reproving or I-told-you-so looks of others. But, darned it, it's a good story! I can't stay ashamed my whole life of a decision I made in good faith just because someone else flaked out. So, today is the day I blog about it --- the great Taco Caper of November 2012.
There I was, on the brink of finally using my passport again! I was excited. I wished there was something I could take to my host that would really be a piece of the States. And then it hit me! The gift that tops all other gifts. The gift that makes Hallmark cry itself to sleep.
Wait, ... what?
Not a scarf.
Not a book.
OK. Tacos. Let's talk about this option. Cautions-self asked, "Do they even allow meat from the United States into Germany?" To which, Einstiein-self responded, "Problem solved, I will check it! If I cook it, then freeze it, then wrap it tightly in my suitcase, the cold belly of the bird should just keep it frozen." Ok Selves, it's a plan.
Fast forward Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. I had followed the plan to the letter but now I began to wonder ... Have I really made the right decision here? Those Germans, they have historically taken their policing pretty seriously. Maybe I should dump it down the toilet before I go through customs ... the Mad Cow Kilo .. the ... Oh look, this of coffee cup has my initial's on it! SQUIRREL!
SO ... next thing I knew, there I was, disembarking in Germany with a baggie of crumbled cold beef laced with cumin and maltodextrin undeniably lodged into the corner of my luggage, just waiting for me to claim it.
"Anysing to declare?" The sullen thin man asked me. ... Errrr.... I briefly considered throwing myself prostrate on the floor, confessing all.
"Noo?" I faltered. KACHINK went the stamp. Next Please. There was no where for me to go but forward.
I snaked down a long corridor with other travelers from all over the world. I felt a little clammy. Hey, it's not so bad, is it? I mean, come on, it was just a little ground sirloin, right? HOW BAD could the penalty be?
The hallway emptied into a large room filled with several baggage carousels. I scanned them briefly but did not spot my bag. Several young airport policemen sauntered about, scanning the crowds. Oh God, oh God. Why couldn't I have just brought a book? A nice, fat, coffee table book about mountains or midgets or postcards from Route 66. Tacos? Who brings tacos? Crazy incarcerated carnivore prisoners, that's who. WHERE IS MY BAG?
I ducked into a nearby door with the word Toilet over the door. I looked in the mirror. Did I look guilty? I turned my head from side to side and tried to ascertain whether or not I looked shifty. I was sweaty and had to pee. Logical motherly-self advised I should probably take this opportunity to go. I didnt know how long I would be in transit between the airport and my final destination and ... when in Rome.. right? These boots were made for walking and this room was made for ... well you get it.
Problem number 2. Well, not NUMBER TWO, but the second issue. I'm looking at the toilet but I do not see any way to flush it. No wall flusher. No auto light sensing eye. This was not my first international toilet experience and my pride was a little bruised. I was a bit embarrased and flummoxed. Look as I might throughout the stall, it was just me, a bowl of yellow water and nowhere to make it go. I'm serious when I said I probably looked for five minutes. Four other people came and went in the stall next to me. Still I puzzled. Should I just walk away and leave it? No, no. All of my collective raising nixed that idea. I could not just walk away and leave it. Then .... does that tile depress? WHOOOSH! The thrill of potty training rushed through me. Potty go bye-bye.
And so it was that, after washing up, combing my hair, and a few deep breaths to steel myself, I walked out the door to claim my bag.
Everyone was GONE. And not just gone but FLAT GONE. Litterally gone. How long had I been in there, anyway? Where had everyone GONE? Had they cleared the room in preparation for the big takedown? This did not look suspicious at all.... noooo.
There, ahead, I saw it. My bag. It had been pulled off of the carousel. The rubber carosel track circled emptily with my lone black bag propped conspicuously against it. Had it been opened? Did it look rifled? My eyes darted about the room. My belly felt queesy, as if there was an entire Six-Flags worth of carnival rides in there.
Five feet to my right, a small group of airport police stood tightly clustered, chatting quietly. The roller coaster in my belly dropped straight down into my feet. With a deep breath I straitened my back and walked toward my bag with purpose, trying to look confident while secretly eyeing them out of the corner of my eye. Were they readying the taser? The cuffs? Tranquilizer darts? I bent and picked up my bag and turned to go.
One of them nodded.
I slowly nodded ...back?
One of the young men said something and they all cracked up laughing.
Could it be? Did they really have no idea? I could quite possibly be carrying the next black plague in my satchel and yet here I was, on my way into the Fatherland. I pointed myself toward the nearest exit door and pushed through.
Over the cold, clammy scent of sweat clinging to my jacket there was another smell ... the smell of freedom! I had done it! Like Steve McQueen in The Great Escape! (Well, all except for the part where he goes in a ditch and is recaptured.) I was free!! MUAH HA HA HA HA - YES! Take that, coffee table books! VIVA LOS TACOS!
Later that night I heated the still somewhat frozen beef and served it with Tillamook cheese from Oregon and Tortillas from Texas. They tasted ....... a little bland, to tell you the truth. But my victory, well now, my victory tasted very sweet indeed.