Thursday, 25 October 2012

Parsimonius puritanicus

Experticus’ Law: “The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men Gang aft Agley”

There are just a few laws and theorems that pertain to the initial  moments on a journey. The most pertinent of which are:

Spendicus’ First law of Travel: Your first and last two days of travel will be the most expensive.

Muchas Extremicus’ Second Law, a corollary of the first, states  that the airport, station or port that you arrive at or depart from, will be at the furthest extent from your first or last nights accommodation.

Optimisticus’ Third Theorem suggests that if you have an excessive lay-over on a multi flight itinerary, your baggage will be first off the carrousel. If you have but moments for a transfer, the lottery belt will break down.

Gullibilicus’ Fourth Law postulates that a traveller is at his or her most vulnerable to exploitation in the first moments upon arrival at a new destination.    

Has the airport  left your boxed bikes on the forecourt, to be rendered down to papier-maché, so they can deliver them four days later? Are they anxious to persuade you to return home to an already rented out house? Do they have issues with your dirty shoes?  The common denominator to many of these hiatuses is not difficult to extrapolate: a certain national carrier and a particular airport that serves the south-east of England. So from experience comes enlightenment. Fly with the Franco-Dutch. Over-engineer the packaging. 

Our worn out cycling comestibles, the gears, wheels and tyres are up for renewal, and their replacements are packaged in what looks like a big bass drum. Parading along Edinburgh’s Princes Street, I feel like a refugee from a Drumcree march. Parading suggests organisation, rectitude and order, when the reality is a dodgem shuffle between tour bus touts and Asian tourists with cameras. Just how many pictures does one need of the Garden’s pigeons? 
Fact, not theory: bicycle panniers are the most unwieldy of packages when not attached to a bicycle.

As to why we’re partaking of public transport, that can be blamed on a collusion between  Parsimonius Scoticus and Puritanicus Albas. The latter has argued that, as a trip relies on self propulsion and independence, then it should start at your own front door; but as our bikes are stored in an Argentine garage, we can’t cycle to the airport, so the next best option is the X6 and the Airlink. The former’s contribution was to suggest that we fly the first leg the previous day, on the grounds that a bus in the middle of the day would be cheaper than a taxi in the middle of the night. Anyway they’ve got recliner seats airside at Schiphol, it’s only a 13 hour lay-over, and who can sleep soundly when you know that you’ve got to rise at 2.30?

It’s only at check-in that we encounter the first challenge to Parsimonius’ Law: they only hold in-transit baggage for 12 hours, would we please recover and recheck-in our kit. Unfortunately there’s no comfy recliner ground side, there’s no Rijksmuseum to peruse, but more crucially, there’s no tax-free coffee and waffles. Parsimonius decides that he had better downgrade his law to theorem status, with the excuse that ‘it was a good idea at the time’

It’s at check-in time that our quasi-Lambeg drum looks less out of place, as it appears to have moved off of the street and into the concert hall, it’s been joined by an orchestra of cellos and double basses. Which makes for an interesting baggage reclaim hall at Ezeiza, and it certainly interests the customs fraternity when it passes through their x-ray machine. Argentina have imposed an imported goods limit of USD300 per family, and a tax levy for excesses that would make the French premier blush. We had spent some time revaluing our replacements, and wishing that we had actually spent what we are claiming. But this is Argentina, and they didn’t even ask for the document. The ‘good cop’ even suggested that we looked like ‘cycle travellers’, which was odd as we had yet to acquire our burnt noses and earlobes.

Through officialdom, now for Gullibilcus’ Fourth Law.