My final moments in Ireland were spent trying to find a chemist who would sell me something for the headache I’d woken up with. Ah, it was going to be a long trip.
Aside from panic-related reasons, much of my objection to flight as a means of travel is sinus based. During descent, about half the time I can expect the change in air pressure to suck a hefty wad of phlegm into my ear canal, causing crippling pain. This is very inconvenient for me, because I find it hard to concentrate properly on my fear when I feel like there’s an ice pick digging into my skull. Furthermore, this ear canal blockage usually refuses to dislodge itself in a timely fashion, and I can be stuck with it for days afterward. It will often sit there until it gets infected, and then only time or penicillin will fix it.
Such a blockage is what happened landing in Philadelphia, and was compounded by a second landing in Montreal soon after. I had to live with the popping sound effects in my left ear every time I blew my nose for weeks afterwards. It only cleared up a few days ago following some spicy food and a bloody nasal discharge. But enough about my infections.
The stopover in Philadelphia was an uneventful and very lengthy five hours. The greatest excitement came when I fell asleep face down in my luggage and woke up with vision so blurred by my squished eyelashes, I thought I had detached a retina.
As a special favour to the people who were picking up the tab for this whole trip, I agreed to mule some Irish whiskey through Canadian customs. This isn’t as nefarious as it sounds. We were all allowed a certain legal limit, and since I wasn’t bringing any booze home for myself, I brought along a couple extra bottles in my bag and claimed it as my own. It was all perfectly, sort-of-ly, legal. Thankfully I didn’t have to hide it up my ass, or decant it into a series of condoms I could swallow and then regurgitate after passing customs. Admittedly, some of the more gruesome specifics of modern smuggling techniques fascinate me, and I’m always interested in the methodology of sneaking a kilo into the country when you don’t have a convenient dead baby you can hollow out.
Again my carry-ons ruled the day. Leaving my companions behind to deal with the whys and wherefores of more lost luggage, I grabbed my ride home to begin my recovery from the journey – and the extensive notes I had to assemble about the project in an effort to agree on what we’d all agreed on.
Okay, enough travelogue. Back to business.