Four fat lobsters slipped by border patrol with claws clacking and tails flapping inside their Styrofoam container.
Tyler and Colette were coming from San Francisco to visit Mom and hubby, Donny K, in Atenas, Costa Rica by way of Maine. They had planned it well in advance, knowing they had a wedding to attend there in early September. They would be schlepping yet another suitcase loaded with household goods and treasures to the new hacienda which I had packed over a year ago when we moved to Costa Rica.
After much discussion, and deliberating about the cost of shipping, we decided to divest ourselves of most of our worldly possessions and just pack the non-negotiable items into suitcases. That which we could not take on our flight was distributed among friends and family for delivery whenever they next visited Costa Rica. This was the lone straggler that had been sitting under Tyler and Colette’s stairs for months. It had been too long to remember what was in it.
I knew it wasn’t the flamingo because, their friend, Eli, had already delivered that one. I had warned Eli in advance, that the suitcase contained Francesca, the four foot tall acrylic beauty I had bought at the Pink Palm on Lincoln Road when I lived in South Beach. She had traveled with me to Santa Cruz, California in 2007, and now was to make the journey to Costa Rica in 2012. We had been through too much together to leave her behind. She was wrapped in a blanket with her legs temporarily removed so she could fit in the bag. I wanted Eli to know there was absolutely nothing inside her plump round body in case the customs officials opened the suitcase and questioned it. They could shine a flashlight into her leg holes if they wanted to look inside, but please don’t let them split her open. They could shake her to see if any white powder or oregano-like leaves trickled out. She arrived intact and proudly sits at my side as I write this from the patio overlooking the village of Atenas.
Well, whatever was in that suitcase would be a surprise; we had lived for over a year without its contents, but I was still excited to see what was in it. Nobody could easily look inside, since it was overstuffed and locked with no clue as to the whereabouts of the key. On arrival, we would jimmy it open and toss the valise, since we already had a plethora of empty bags and no plans to move anywhere soon. We had moved eight times in the last year and a half; nope, not moving!
Tyler and Colette set out on their trip, arrived safely in Maine, and posted a photo on Facebook of their first dinner in Maine: lobster, of course! Huge, yummy lobsters. I posted a comment: “Jealous!” and dismissed it. I was happy for them remembering all the times we flew through Bangor on the way to Europe when I flew for Trans International Airlines. The airport at Bangor has the best lobster rolls in the world; makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Never did I think the kids would buy lobsters to go, on the way to Costa Rica. How would they ever get them through customs? Couldn’t happen, could it?
When I heard the SUV pull into the driveway, I ran outside with a flashlight jumping up and down with excitement. The bags were unloaded, we joked about the suitcase from under the stairs which finally made it to Costa Rica, and I turned to go into the house. Tyler said: “Wait a minute.” He disappeared into the back of the car and emerged with a box that could only be one thing! “I broughta you something.” (A line we use from a Marx brothers movies where each brother whips out a whole salami and they exchange). I shrieked with excitement. “Ah! Ah! Ah! LOBSTERS!” was all I could get out. I could barely breathe.
“How…? How …?
Tyler and Colette were grinning. “Yup, they sailed right through. We just acted like we didn’t know any better. We put ’em on the belt, picked up the box on the other side and walked right out. We waited until we were in the shuttle van for the high fives!”
I was beside myself; “Lobster feast tonight! We even have a big pot; I carried it in my suitcase stuffed with tee shirts and cloth napkins on my last trip down. No lobster forks; we’ll have to rough it.”
The feast was splendid. It was such a treat, I stretched it out to the max by saving the shells and making a lobster bisque the next day. I don’t know when, if ever, I will have a live Maine lobster in my Costa Rica kitchen again. This was an unforgettable surprise which will bring a smile every time I think of lobster!
I’m not suggesting anybody try this, but if you happen to be flying through Maine on the way to Costa Rica, and you’re feeling adventurous, pick me up a pair of two pounders! I’ll even make bisque the next day!