I have never taken so many bags with me on a trip before. It sorts of pains me that they don’t match, but I know that utility is the only thing that matters. (In the end, they won’t even make it to my destination, but I don’t know that yet.) They are light, but I expect them to be much heavier on the return trip. I guess that’s just the nature of travel… to the grocery store.

So many bags!

It has been a long time since I’ve been able to travel, and this trip has been on the schedule for a while. Frankly, it arrives not a moment too soon, as I’m bored staying in one place, searching meekly for things about which to write, and sick of eating the same old local foods constantly. I will finally get some variety, have some adventures, and see new and exciting things!

I arrive before the crux of other travelers, avoiding the commuters, and approach the arrivals lounge. There is nary a line to be seen! I’ve heard tales that this destination can have backup for close to an hour to get through the checkpoint, but my only hitch is when the customs official tells me that my bags can not accompany me due to fear of outside germs being brought across the border. I certainly understand, and proceed empty handed with my cart that has been provided for free here. That certainly beats LAX!

The arrivals area

The air is cooler than it was at home. I gaze at the local flora and fauna in their variety and colors. One thing is apparent: both the locals and visitors alike dress with an odd piece of cloth covering their lower faces. It must be the custom here, and I am quick to obtain and fasten one. Thus camouflaged, I am more likely to be able to conduct my business without drawing overt attention. In all travel, blending in is key to both safety and enjoyment, as the locals will be more likely to engage. Even so, I hesitate to get too close. I haven’t been immunized to the local pathogens, and the people here seem jumpy at anyone encroaching a roughly six foot bubble.

In my native garb

Why do people come here, dealing with such fidgety and worrisome people? Well, the shopping here is much better than at home, and I have a long list of souvenirs I’ve been asked to bring back with me. Some things are easy to find; the local fruit, for instance, is better than what I grow at home and I quickly stock up. Other things prove more elusive, even here. Sadly, I forgot to bring binoculars, so I don’t even spot a glimpse of the notorious “Clorox disinfecting wipes” or “Kleenex tissues,” two local things that, from my experience, are little more than legend to attract tourists or frighten children. Alas I left my binoculars at home, though border security wouldn’t have allowed them in anyway.

At least here I am free to let my gaze wander in search of such things. There doesn’t seem to be any motorized vehicular traffic anywhere. Carts are common – and sensible given the abundance of goods one might want to purchase – but cars, bicycles, and even the dreaded scooters are nowhere to be found. Life without scooters is better than life with, as my sanity and shins can attest.

I explore each neighborhood thoroughly, taking in their local specialties. One seems to be famous for its baked goods, another for all sorts of items in designer cans, and yet another for crafts made of paper. The diversity here is truly outstanding, and I wonder if anyone has attempted to paint all of the local species a la John James Audubon.

The native flora and fauna

My trip is relatively short, and exiting is nearly as efficient as entering was. The customs official allows me to pass after accepting payment for all of the souvenirs I’m bringing home with me – a remarkable system when you think about it. She, too, is in native garb. I’ve gotten so used to wearing my own cloth face-covering that I continue to do so even aboard my transportation back home.

No, it may not have been the most exciting of vacations, but these days, even the shortest of outings seems like an extravagant adventure.

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