|The girls with favourite stuffed animals, in Essaouira, Morocco|
We’ve been lucky in our travels. Considering the number of planes, trains, and automobiles we’ve taken, we’ve rarely lost anything. Other than the luggage that went missing for a week after our never-ending journey back from Morocco (that one merited its own post), the things we’ve lost on our travels are generally those that have been taken from us.
This is the story of those things, and they tell a lot about each of us.
Knowing how I love to spend time in the kitchen, you won’t be surprised to hear that my confiscations were of the culinary variety. Returning from France, I had an adorable Pylones dog-shaped pie server taken by security officials. And recently, coming back from Chicago, I had to part ways with a hazelnut spread that I’d bought as a gift for Andrew. Yes, I know the rule about liquids – I just didn’t know the confectionary corollary.
My oldest daughter was a crafter extraordinaire as a child. Every day could be made better with the addition of scotch tape, pipe cleaners, and construction paper. It was a wonderful trait at home, but problematic when we travelled, particularly since she was fond of multiple-pocket pants. When we were packing for the airport, it never occurred to me to ask, “Did you check your pockets to see if you took your scissors out?” Airport security being a little more thorough than her mother’s, the scissors in question were found and confiscated. And a tearful young lady needed to be consoled, partly from embarrassment, and partly because she couldn’t cut and paste for the rest of her holiday.
You might think we’d have learned our lesson. But the following year, we were stopped on our way through the metal detector to visit the House of Parliament in Ottawa. Sure enough, when she emptied her pockets, out came another pair of scissors. I don’t know how much damage can be done with blunt-ended pinking shears, but fortunately it was never put to the test.
My youngest daughter was devoted to her precious stuffed animals, and several of them joined us on every trip. Every trip, that is, until the year we took a cruise, and her (light-grey) stuffed manatee was accidentally scooped up with our (white) linens to be washed. It’s difficult to convey how devastating this loss was, perhaps on par with one of her parents being accidentally scooped up with the linens. We spoke to our hard-working cabin attendant, but what was the chance that, among bedclothes for 1500 cabins, one missing manatee would be found? Magically, he was returned several days later, one shade paler but otherwise intact. The following year, the stuffed animals decided to stay at home.
My husband, devoted musician that he is, once took a harmonica on holidays. If you know Andrew, you’re probably saying, “Why would he do that? He doesn’t play harmonica.” To which I would answer, “I don’t know” and “You’re right, he doesn’t.” He’d been given the harmonica as a gift, though, and was determined to learn it while we were in Costa Rica. We were challenged by security on our way through the airport, and Andrew was asked to prove it was a functional instrument by playing it. This was more difficult than it sounds, because he’d never actually tried, and didn’t know the finger positions. Gamely, he channeled his inner Elwood Blues and tunelessly played a few notes. The security officer smiled his thanks for the impromptu concert and waved us through.