It is Thursday, August 24 at approximately 9:30 a.m. Paris time. Yes, I am in Paris…uh well, almost in Paris. As I have been sitting at the baggage claim between the arrival gate and customs for the past two and a half hours, I’m not sure that I’m technically in a country right now.
In my not-so-comfortable red chair next to baggage claim 6 of Terminal 1 of Charles de Gaulle airport, I must be near my comrade without a country, Sir Alfred Mehran. Although, since I remain in limbo only until my travel partner arrives at 11am, I’m not sure there’s a legitimate comparison between the two of us. Especially considering he’s been here since 1988…and I’ve been here slightly under 3 hours. Okay okay, on review, there is no comparison, except for the fact that we’re probably sitting in the same terminal right now.
Earlier this week, when Rachael and I were planning our rendez-vous in Paris, it seemed perfectly reasonable to have me wait for her at the international baggage claim. After a few hours of reasonable though, I’m tired, hungry and a little confused about where I am. Most of my fellow fliers of US Airways flight 026 from Philadelphia disembarked, greeted the border police, gathered their suitcases and continued on through customs, a little jet-lagged but generally thrilled to have arrived in France.
I was one of these happy travelers, right up to the point when a friendly American guy stepped in to help me heave my overweight suitcase (requiring an extra $80 at the check-in counter back in Seattle) from the revolving belt. Then he left me to sit here while he went on to enter the European Union. When I first stepped off the plane and started seeing Mastercard advertisements in French all I could think was, “I’m in Paris, I’m in Paris!” Now I’m not so sure. I haven’t actually spoken any French yet – okay, well I did say “merci” to the guy who lifted my suitcase before realizing he was really from North Carolina, but I don’t think that quite counts.
The baggage claim, at first so crowded I was knocking over children with my unwieldy suitcase, is now deserted. A concerned-looking security guard has rolled past me 4 times on his motorized scooter, each time shooting a glare toward my laptop. I guess I could be arming a bomb or something. We 20 year-old American girls are a pretty shifty-looking lot, I know, but when the two websites open on my screen are http://www.blogger.com and http://www.thefacebook.com, I think it’s pretty clear I’m up to no ill.
There’s the guard again. As my 10 euro worth of wifi dwindles, I’d better stow my computer before the border police bomb squad arrives to detonate it. À bientot.