Being from a landlocked country, I love seashells, even the little ones I can collect on British beaches. So when my friends in Mexico gave me 3 large ones they found on a Yucatan beach, I was very happy. I never realised that a shell could be considered a weapon.
At the airport, I had assistance, occasionally my walking is not very good, and I like to be safe. I was pushed in a wheelchair by Juan, a very nice Mexican young man with rather limited English, and we went through various checks. It was OK, they spoke in Spanish, so I didn’t know what they talked about, but they all seemed happy. I needed so many papers- passport, Mexican landing certificate, ESTA, Vaccination certificate, Covid test certificate.
I don’t know if Mexicans just don’t like talking to Gringos in their language, but I was surprised how even at the airport, knowledge of English was not commonplace. When I went through security, a female officer opened my carry-on bag, and looked through everything, taking things out. She found the shell ( the other shells were packed in the checked in luggage).
I don’t speak Spanish, but with learning Latin and French, I understand a bit.
She started telling me in fast Spanish that I can’t take the shell to the plane. At first, I thought it was not allowed to export the shells. She spoke very fast, and I slowly asked her if anybody “ habla inglese”.
After carrying on speaking Spanish for another minute, she eventually called a colleague who spoke English and he explained to me that there are sharp edges.
“It’s dangerous!” he said. Being a crazy writer, I immediately imagined somebody hijacking a plane using a large seashell as a weapon. It would make a good story.
They thought I was going to leave the shell behind. Little did they know me!
Juan couldn’t believe it when said that I will check in my carry-on luggage .He wheeled me back through all those checkpoints, but when I was told it would be 100 US$, I said that was too much.
I was going to say goodbye to my beautiful seashell ,when the kind woman who checked my regular luggage in half an hour before suggested, she can have it brought back so that I can pack the shell in the checked in luggage.
So there was me, in the middle of Merida airport kneeling on the floor, re-packing two cases, while everybody was having a great time observing that crazy Gringo. They all quite obviously thought I was amusingly mad. Or is it madly amusing? Probably both.
I had to go through security again, but they didn’t bother checking my luggage. I looked at my phone for how to say in Spanish ” crazy grandmother”.
“Yo soy abuela loca.” I told Juan. He laughed.
I think they are probably still laughing about that Gringa loca! Well, I aim to amuse.