Chapter 15Readability

As the airport immigration officer thumbed through my passport for the hundredth time, I couldn't help but wish I'd hitchhiked back to the States on the KC-135 as planned. You know, sometimes they let you operate the boom if you ask nicely…

Anything would have been better than secondary screening but, as my mind wandered, I was comforted that at least the latex gloves hadn't come out yet.

Quito, Ecuador. In country on counternarcotics operations, I had taken advantage of the free ticket to South America to trek around for a week of R&R: climbing the spires of gothic cathedrals, bisecting my body at Mitad del Mundo (misplaced equatorial monument), up Teleférico (gondola to 13,000 feet), and of course the nightly Gringolandia discotecas (clubs). So of course I didn't regret staying, but this was getting ridiculous.

Ummm…those pages don't come apart.” I gently reprimanded.

Back to reality, as one officer attempted to pull apart my passport as though some hidden coffer would be revealed. Two guards to his right similarly scoured my military ID and orders, repeatedly passing these between each other. I think that they thought they were trying to validate my credentials somehow, but holding my orders up to the light did not reveal some arcane watermark or mysterious palimpsest.

All this commotion was about a tiny entry stamp that nonresidents receive when immigrating to Ecuador—a tiny stamp I didn't have in my passport, having arrived on a C-130. Their concerns ...

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