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Our route to London was circuitous, beginning from the Bolivian city of La Paz to the city of Santa Cruz, then to Manaus, Brazil, and from there to JFK in New York by way of Miami.  From New York we eventually reached London after over 36 hours of travel.  Part of our air travel was on “around the world” tickets, and these flights were seldom very direct.  England was actually only a layover on the way to Egypt in the original itinerary of the journey, but we decided to change the schedule to include a two night stay.

After several weeks outside of the US, we were eagerly anticipating our brief time in America.  We expected to be able to reground ourselves in preparation for over two more months of international travel.  We were stunned a bit in Miami when we were singled out for special security at the airport.  When a plane ticket has the letter “S” printed upon it three times, be prepared to be taken aside, questioned and carefully searched because you have been identified as a special security risk.  It was curious that we were only singled out as suspicious while traveling in America, no other country considered us a security risk, though twice our American tickets had the dreaded triple "S" on them.

I put myself at ease by openly asking why we were receiving the unusual scrutiny.  The woman searching me was kind enough to explain the code on the ticket and she assumed that we have been identified as a risk because we were landing in Miami from South America, going on to New York, and then leaving the country with no apparent return ticket.  She was very kind and made the ordeal bearable.  I did my best to appear anything but nervous or suspicious. 

My demeanor may have been different had we not just mailed off a large box of items purchased in South America that included several bags of strange looking, strong smelling herbs and sticks that we had purchased at the Witches Market in Bolivia.  While waiting to board our plane, we laughed as we appreciated the presence of Post Offices in major US airports, as well as the timing of our decision to mail our medicinals and other treasures back home.

New York City was a bitter 8° and I was without a winter coat.  Our taxi driver struggled to find our hotel, though it was fairly easy to locate, at least in our estimation.  After settling into a chilly hotel room that refused to warm up, we decided to leave our relative comfort, brave the cold and another cab, and travel to a mall that we were assured was not too terribly far away.

I was hoping to find a coat, and we were also on a wild goose chase to find some jeans for the man who was to be our guide in Egypt.  Dan’s first mistake was to ask our friend, who spoke but rarely wrote English, to spell the name of the brand of jeans he wanted us to find for him in America. The words from our Arabic speaking friend were so badly misspelled that we had no idea what we were actually looking for.  I found out too late that “Dizul Sadul” actually meant “Diesel Saddle” jeans, after we had visited every store in the mall that sold pants.  It did eventually make sense, as we laughed about it later, considering that this is the way the words are pronounced if you speak Arabic!

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