May 22, 2024

May 19 - The Trip Home.

As usual I awake very early, more than an hour before the alarm is set to ring. I didn't sleep well despite a good dose of acetaminophen. My right shoulder and left arm are pretty sore.

We are leaving too early for the included free breakfast at the hotel, but the coffee is ready and Lynn is able to get some before we leave after finding the coffee in the room not very good.

When we step outside with our luggage at 6:50, 10 minutes before our cab is due, he is parked on the sidewalk waiting for us.

Sunday morning there is very little traffic and we make good time to the Rome Fiumicino "Leonardi da Vinci" Airport. The 30 or so check in counters for ITA airlines are already busy. There are two lines, divided by destination. Ours moves quickly. They take our bags and give us boarding passes.

The security checkpoint is next. Usually it takes me longer than other passengers because of my pacemaker. Here I am guickly processed. Lynn's carry bag not so much so.

Rejected by the person monitoring the luggage scanner the carry on is set aside for hand inspection. He finds nothing. Every item is then  removed and visually inspected, still nothing. All back in the bag and repeat the process. Again rejected, and again searched thru item by item. Nothing.

Now a conference between the two inspectors that usually don't communicate. It appears the scanner operator does not tell the second inspector what he sees that causes the luggage to be rejected. They each have their separate job, makes sense. Scanned for a third time. Finally he understands that it is a pair of scissors that the x-ray machine spotted. He finds them, they discuss them, and then he takes them to a supervisor. The blades are much shorter than the 4 inch limit.

Everything is returned and we are again on our way. Only a 15 or 29 minute delay. Just another reason why one must allow plenty of time.

We work our way through the terminal in search of the "E" gates. In the process our passports are checked at least 5 times. Gates are not assigned until about 45 minutes before boarding so we still have time to kill. A pastry for breakfast.

We check the weather, it is going to be hot in Miami, and possibly rain in Rome as we depart.

Our gate is posted, we head out on the moving walkway.

We find a seat awaiting boarding time. We make last checks for phone messages and e-mails. Lynn can't find her phone. She is positive she put it in her zippered purse. I am positive she did not leave it on the table where she had coffee. Not much time until we depart.

I wait at the boarding area, while she retraces her steps, and talks to security personel and airline employees.  No phone has been found. We must board the plane, can't risk missing our flight. 

As we are pulling back from the gate Lynn uses my phone to send a quick text to her son, an ATT management employee, apraising him that the phone is missing. 

In replaying everything that transpired since last using the phone, we both remember a tall slender man bumping into each of us on the moving walkway. The incidents stood out in our minds as the walkway was wide enough that he could have easily passed us without contact. 

Probably Lynn was a victim of a professional. Rome has a notorious reputation for pickpockets, one of the worst areas in the world.

Will they be able to unlock it? Is everything backed up? Will I ever see the pictures from the past 35 days of travel? Are there any passwords on my phone?  These are all questions that go thru Lynn's mind. The worst part? There is nothing that can be done now.

We depart on time, the flight is smooth, the A350 very comfortable in Premium Economy.

We are fed no less than 3 times, beverages are free for the asking. The usual choice of soft drinks, wine, juices or water. Most passengers in premium choose wine.

I had hoped to sleep during the 11 hour flight. It didn't happen. I listen to music on the provided headphones.

We arrive in Miami at the most 5 minutes late. 

The first message on my phone is from Jayson. "Who is this?" Of course he doesn't recognize my number, and the message we sent him could be a classic phishing scheme. Lynn calls him.

It takes about an hour to an hour and a half to retrieve our luggage, clear customs, and make our way to the car rental center. 

The rental car, a Ford SUV is functional but rattles and had a very high level of road noise.

Traffic is light on a Sunday night. We arrive in Clermont about 10:30 PM, roughly 22 hours after leaving our hotel in Rome. A very long day.

Lynn buys a new phone and everything from the trip is recovered. Passwords have been changed out of precaution. The thieves tried to access her American Express account but were unsuccessful. The phone was last used in Rome, not the airport, and has now been disabled. It is yet to be determined if the loss is covered by our travel insurance.

The laundry is done, and everything is ready for the next trip. At this point, a 15 day cruise to Greenland in September. In case you missed it in previous posts, pictures are posted on my facebook account: "Steve Raiford"

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