I arrived this morning at 5 am on the night flight from Ouaga, on my way to see my mom in the hospital in Maryland. When I packed my bag last night, I knew there was something I was forgetting, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. Only when I got here and thought about breakfast did I realize that my little box of medicine was in the checked bag. And there is some stuff I really ought to take every 12 hours.
So after dozing for a few hours in one of the very odd-looking couches they have here:
They are not nearly as comfortable as they look.
I decided to see if I could have access to my baggage. I found an Air France information lady, and she referred me to baggage services. Baggage services is found near baggage claim, which is outside immigration control. So I got to enter France. There was a line, it took about 20 minutes or so, no questions at all from the nice immigration guy once I got to the head of the line. Then I went out to the baggage office. Turns out that if you have checked your bags through and they have to get them for you, there is a fee of 270 Euros. I thought that was a little steep, and I took the guy’s suggestion that I go upstairs to the pharmacy on the concourse. I didn’t have a lot of hope because pharmacies that I am used to back home can’t give you a prescription drug unless you have a prescription. And as a matter of fact, I do have a prescription for this but of course, not with me. But I thought I’d try anyway.
The pharmacist was totally helpful. I described my situation, and she got the stuff and sold me a month’s supply for 7 Euros. Saving me 263 Euros and giving me a new appreciation for the pharmacy profession.
Then, I stepped outside and breathed some actually cool French air. Somewhat flavored with bus exhaust, but at least I got out of the airport. I briefly considered taking a taxi into town and taking a stroll in the Tuileries Gardens, but decided that I would probably spend my 263 Euros on round trip taxi fare and not get much of a walk out of it. Next time, when I’m coming back in two weeks, I’m totally going into town though. If I skip the nap, I’ll have plenty of time for a walk and a nice breakfast in town. And I bet the line at immigration is shorter at 5 am.
So I went back through security. I should say that you go through security a lot in international travel. We had two full bag checks and personal searches getting on the plane in Ouaga. Then, when we arrived in Paris, we went from the arrival gate through a security checkpoint before getting access to the departure gates. Coming back from outside, of course, I had to go through the same security checkpoint. I ended up in the same line as I had passed through the first time, at 5 am. It was now nearing 9:30. And the guy at the checkpoint remembered me. “Second time through?”, he said. And I explained about the pharmacy. Briefly. But was very impressed that out of the thousands of people who pass through that security area, this guy remembered me and was curious enough to want to know why I had gone out of the airport. I don’t know if he was just making conversation or was being professionally curious. But it was an interesting experience. I would be extremely surprised if any TSA screener could remember a random passenger’s face four hours later.
So anyway, here I am sitting at the gate, still two hours before flight time, listening to somebody play the piano – this being France, they have a piano set up a little ways down the concourse and anybody who feels the urge to play is welcome. The guy who was playing a second ago was pretty good, though now he is standing up. Ah well. America this afternoon!