No Entry

This is a series of posts about Belize and Guatemala that starts here.

I was on the plane ready to take off for my big wilderness adventure.

After the gate agents’ repeated threats, no one’s carry on was taken away to the hold.  I settled into my seat with the New York Times crossword puzzle, relieved to be seated next to an elderly couple who were reading paper books.  Hurrah!  No screens in my face or endless cha-Cha-cha-Cha of someone’s music leaking out of their ear buds.

I had grabbed a couple extra newspapers at work and kept out a Sunday edition, which I expected to absorb my attention all the way to Belize City.  In case you aren’t a crossword geek, the NYT puzzles get harder as the week progresses. Saturday is the hardest, but Sunday is super sized and also very difficult.  I had been pretty pleased with myself when I’d managed to finish it the previous Sunday.

Oh. No.  I somehow now had last week’s puzzle—the one I’d already solved. I must have picked up a duplicate version at work by mistake.

“Ooh, Sunday,” commented the man next to me.  I didn’t tell him I’d already solved it.  I filled it in at lighting speed and I could feel him looking over surreptitiously; probably thinking I was a genius.  Well, let someone think that, for once, I thought.

Done with the crossword in 15 minutes.  Two hours to kill with nothing to read but the in-flight magazine, which featured a story about John Legend. I had heard of him, and I didn’t even know why because I couldn’t name any of his songs.

I glanced across the aisle and the man sitting one row ahead of me was readying pie charts for a presentation of … a merger? … of two companies called Dermocell and Norodaq.  Undoubtedly they make pharmaceuticals for problems I don’t know I have yet.  His wife and kids were sitting next to and across the aisle from him and kept interrupting him to ask him questions.  I wondered where they were going—it was too early for spring break.  Maybe he was taking them along on a business trip that happened to be taking place in Orlando.  He seemed utterly uninterested in anything but his pie charts.

The flight attendants came by to offer snacks and drinks.  I could hear the closest one six rows away, “Coffee, tea, soft drinks?  Pretzels, nuts, yogurt balls?”

Yogurt balls?  They had said something during the announcements about “exciting new snacks.” These must be them—I started to feel excited.  Yogurt balls sounded intriguing.  She progressed excruciatingly slowly down the aisle, repeating her snack and drink mantra.

Finally, I got to request my usual Diet Coke and … yogurt balls.  She looked at me funny but handed it over. It was just a yogurt bar!  Then I heard her answering another passenger’s question after she’d moved on, and realized she had an eastern European accent which rendered “bars” as “balls.”

Still, yogurt bars made a nice change from nuts and pretzels.  Nature Box was the brand.  I looked at the ingredient list, which took up most of the wrapper.

Rolled Oats, Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Greek Yogurt Flavored Coating (sugar, palm kernel oil, nonfat dry milk, Greek yogurt powder [nonfat milk solids, cultures, lactic acid, natural flavor], lactic acid, soy lecithin, natural flavor), Rice Crisps (rice flour, rice bran, raisin juice concentrate, honey, salt), Chicory Root Fiber, Organic Cane Sugar, Almonds, Glycerin, Sunflower Seeds, Apples, High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Cinnamon, Natural Flavor, Sea Salt.

For Christ’s sake!  Six sweeteners?

Anne, you will not be a purist.  You are on vacation, I told myself.

It was delicious.

Sun! Heat!  We walked down the wobbly stairs from the plane, crossed the tarmac, and joined the long immigration line.  Fortunately there was reading material to keep us occupied, in the form of warnings about Zika and Chikungunya.

At the glass booth, the usual serious-faced border agent asked, “What’s the address of your hotel?”

“I’m with a tour,” I said. “The leader has the address.”

“No entry without an address,” she huffed, and turned to the next person.

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