To Cyprus -- with Style and Dogfood

Iím not a stylish traveller: Iím always too hassled, too sweaty, and too nervous when I fly. But on my last trip to Cyprus, I was doing better than usual. When we waved goodbye to our friend at the airport, I caught sight of myself in the plate glass windows and saw that my trousers fit, my luggage held together, and my shoes didnít have mud on them.

We didn't find the dog food until five minutes before boarding. My daughter's mobile phone rang and I heard the following one-sided conversation:

"Dog food? No, of course not! Oh, wait a minute -- itís right here, hang on--" (she opened my vast over-spill carry-on bag and rummaged through it.) "--Is it in a yellow bag? Oh wow, you're right!" (pinching her nose) "I wonder how that got there because I didn't... No. Sorrrry! So, what should we do? Ha-ha, no, you can't, can you? Will they be hungry? Oh, poor things!"

Somehow, three kilograms of smelly dog food -- enough to feed my friend's two spaniels for several days -- had found its way into my carry-on bag. How it got through baggage check when my lipstick and hand lotion didn't, I'll never know, but there you are.

On the plane, I prodded my daughter. "Can you smell it?"

She made a face. "No. Well -- maybe."

"I can smell it." I sure could. In fact, I worried about what it might be doing to the oatmeal and ginger cookies I had in there.

The stewardesses swished back and forth, all stylish efficiency and stay-in-place hair. Stewardesses are stylish travellers. They wear neat little hats and pressed suits and high heels. Their suitcases always hold together, and the handle-thingies on theirs always pull out all the way.

"Just leave it on the plane, mom," my daughter urged.

But how could I? If I left the bag on the plane, I knew exactly what would happen. Those trim, practical stewardesses would come along, wrinkle their pretty noses, and throw it out immediately. And I may travel like a slob, but I'm not wasteful. If I've got something that somebody else can use, there is no way I can just throw it out. I might not carry dog food right down to the gates of hell, but I'm betting I'd get pretty close.

I carried three kilograms of dog food straight through AtatŁrk International Airport and onto our next plane and off, right through customs. I breathed a sigh of relief that no trained police dogs were on duty, sniffing people's baggage for drugs: how in the world would I have explained their reaction to my carry-on bag?

I may never be a stylish traveler, but then you can't have everything in this world. And two dogs in Cyprus remember me still.

M Whitsell

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