I’m a poor tourist but, I’ve always been a happy globetrotter. I’ve set foot on different continents—Asia, Middle East, Oceania, North America, Europe. Where to next? Cape Town, South Africa? I almost did in 2013.
I’ve always believed that traveling broadens one’s horizons, that it’s never too late “to see the most extraordinary sights, savor all the different experiences,” then return home a month or two later because “there’s no place like home.”
A late-bloomer jetsetter, riding an airplane was never an option when I was younger. Not until I was 32! I was already a mother of four girls when I took my first domestic flight from Manila to Legazpi City. I was 50 when I pampered myself with my first flight abroad—Bangkok, Thailand.
My second daughter, Jaja, wrote: “You already checked a lot in your bucket list travel-wise, you may now consider looking inward and explore a different kind of adventure.”
Enough of wanderlust? Footloose no more? Maybe. COVID-19’s Omicron variant is still around. And, my youngest daughter Katrina’s nonrevenue tickets have stopped since she resigned from her Emirates airline job half a decade ago.
Meantime, my travel blunders are worth retelling.
I never learned to travel light, despite having vowed to myself for the umpteenth time never to overpack again. I always forget airlines’ baggage weight limitations. I pack clothes good for a month’s wear as I avoid doing laundry in other households while on vacation. So, perennial problem, excess baggage!
It’s in our Filipino culture and tradition to give pasalubong to our hosts. In my case, usually family, close relative, townmate, high school classmate, former coworker, former co-teacher, former student, or close friend.
My pasalubong is on a “first come, first served” basis. Sorry for those I don’t see on the first few days of my arrival, those who are in the later part of my itinerary, or those who reside in other states. My pasalubong is either a delicacy or a product from my Southern Luzon city, the last items I pack in my trolley. Then my portable weighing scale always screams excess baggage!
A decade ago, I brought a native basket, intended as pasalubong for my townmate doctor-host in Las Vegas. In my Chicago connecting flight, I was charged $100 for excess baggage. No choice, I left the basket at the restroom.
I brought six years ago some packs of crunchy chicharon as pasalubong for my cousin in Toronto. The Canadian baggage inspector informed me that I had to leave behind all the chicharon packs. Pork products are prohibited.
I was lucky I wasn’t charged by the Lufthansa staff for hand-carrying a heavily wrapped Cleopatra décor at Frankfurt international airport.
I wasn’t done with my lunch when the Emirates double-decker A380 landed at Auckland international airport. Carelessly, I put the leftover fruit in my shoulder bag. Then the sniffer dog kept his nose close to my bag and kept following me. The lady Kiwi inspector met me and asked: “What’s in your bag?” I replied: “My leftover fruits from the plane.” Then I quickly pulled out the fruit packet and dropped it at the nearest trash bin. Goodbye, sniffer dog!
Bumped off in Singapore while Melbourne-bound, my nephew’s wife, Julie Ann, packed for me a few pieces of raw Calumpit longanisa as pabaon. At Tullamarine airport, the Australian inspector said he could have penalized me $200 if I didn’t declare the longanisa.
Returning to Manila two months later, the Qantas staff whispered that she didn’t charge me for my excess baggage. Then added: Don’t carry too much stuff next time!
Katy Viacrucis, 70, is described by Mabad, her cousin-“adopted brother,” as a “woman of indomitable spirit,” while his wife, Ching, nods in agreement. Katy’s daughters, Loi and Junah, say their Mami is “in a league of her own.”
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