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The Journey Begins

View from the United Airlines terminal during my 5-hour layover at San Francisco Airport -- but the free WIFI is great.
View from the United Airlines terminal during my 5-hour layover at San Francisco Airport — but the free WIFI is great.

Sixty-seven pounds! That’s what the airline’s scale registered when I turned over my largest bag this morning at the Eugene Airport. My eyes were half-shut, given the four hours of sleep I managed to get in before waking at 3:30 AM to shower, shave, and dress for the airport. It was now 4:05 AM. Yes, the flight wasn’t scheduled to depart until 5:45––but I wasn’t willing to take any chances.

At the check-in desk, the airline counter attendant gave me a disapproving look. Given the airline’s 50 pound limit, the extra weight of my bag meant I would have to pay a $200 surcharge.  Yikes. 

Of course, she hadn’t witnessed my calamity at home six hours earlier. I had awkwardly tried to balance my enormous suitcase atop a small bathroom scale. I could barely see the numbers. Once I got it to work the digital display registered 49.5 pounds. I was so proud of myself, until this troublesome moment at check-in.

My tripod and extra microphones, padded ever so carefully, were likely part of the problem. However, leaving gear behind was never an option. After never endless lectures about avoiding shaky video, I could never look at a Gateway student again with a straight face if my own shots looked wobbly. So, I forked over the credit card, without even a hint of a smile.

The attendant would never know about the small pile of items I had left behind: the travel iron, the laundry detergent, and the six cans of tuna. Yes, tuna. I was packing extra protein, just in case.

Not to knock the food in Ghana, of course. This will be my second trip to this wonderful country that I hold in the highest regard. I miss the people, the music, and the culture. I learned to love Tilapia when I first traveled to Ghana in 2008 for a documentary project.  It is hard to believe it has taken me five years to find my way back. 

The gear has gotten much lighter since then, but not light enough to save me an extra fee.