It has taken me 3 days to pack, and yet last night, heeding a nagging voice in my head, I repacked again. I dump the contents of my carry-on out onto the floor, swapping out my shoes, moving my chargers and adapter to my purse, as well as my sewing kit, a small roll of duct tape, a spare shirt and a book. "This is a ridiculous level of overthinking," I say to myself. But I chalk it up to the normal pre-travel jitters which always keeps me up until 2 AM the night before a flight.
Adam, the apartment maintenance guy arrives just as I am leaving, to patch the ceiling in my bathroom after a week of flooding from the upstairs neighbor. "It'll all be repaired by the time you get back," he assures me. In the meantime, I have packed valuables into my now empty fridge, oven and dishwasher, bundled much of my clothing into plastic bags, and have parceled irreplaceable belongings out to a handful of friends, in the event that the guy upstairs persists in letting his faucets run unattended, or worse - settingthe place on fire, as I look at a BBQ which has newly arrived on his deck with a great deal of suspicion...
A final tussle with the Shopcats and reassurances that substitute keepers would arrive twice daily to provide them with meals and playtime, I'm off to board the bus and lightrail that will take me to the airport.
I have left extra early to counter Seattle traffic (there was none), and lines at the airport (there were none). I take a pleasant stroll down the concourse to the Lufthansa ticketing desk with my TSA pre-check pass in hand. "Sorry miss, your bag is overweight and will have to be checked." Oh well, at least I won't have to wheel it through the airport and struggle with getting it into the overhead bin on the plane. I hop onto the tram (no waiting!) and thread my way through halls and escalators to the international gate, and through security without having to take off my shoes (a first!). I'm still 2.5 hours early, so I grab a yogurt, a seat, and my copy of El Cid which I had slid into my purse at the last minute.
Previous flights to Frankfurt have taught me to book an aisle seat in the center section, since the chances are pretty high that you'll have at least one empty seat next to you. This pays off for me again, and after dinner and a movie - "The Dressmaker," a deliciously dark piece - I curl up across 2 seats and take a nap.
Eight hours later, we land in Frankfurt. No frisking or swabbing for explosives at Frankfurt is another first. "Wow, this is going to be a great trip, everything is going so well!" I whisper to myself, through lips curled in an uncharacteristic grin. I meet up with Brenda, a woman from Toronto who will be one of my traveling companions for the next several days. We pass the time with idle chit-chat, sitting on the floor in the hallway, wondering why the seating area for the gate is behind locked glass doors. Finally, after the hall has filled with passengers, and the staff have made several false starts, the doors are unlocked and we flood in. More waiting, and then boarding, and the final leg of the flight begins.
The plane follows the Spanish coastline on its way to North Africa. I've booked a window seat for this 3 hour flight, and look out over green lakes, an unexpected patchwork of crop fields that stretch to the horizon, and an expanse of solar panels about half an hour outside of Casablanca.
We land, deboard and find our way to baggage claim. Brenda finds her suitcase right away and waits for me as I search the carousel, and then the piles of suitcases in the corner, and then every other carousel. After about 20 minutes I find an airport staff to help me, and we search again, for a tidy, well packed lime green bag that apparently never arrived...