The trip back went off without a hitch. The taxi driver came on time, and I checked in with Lufthansa on time as well. One of my bags was overweight (no surprise there), but they insisted that it was a 50E charge, even though I swear their website said it was a $25 charge. Rome to Frankfurt was fine, but 3 hours in the Frankfurt airport sucked. There's really nowhere to sit, and you can't go to your gate more than 90 minutes before the flight leaves. Frankfurt to Rome was fine - I didn't have to sit next to a fat person, there were no screaming babies, and no one was kicking my seat. I was surrounded by annoying Russians who, since they couldn't watch the movie, kept standing in the aisle, necessitating my kicking them and miming that I was watching the movie, since they spoke absolutely no English. (The flight attendant asked if they were Americans, for the customs forms, and they didn't even understand that simple question.) I stole a metal spork from Lufthansa (because metal sporks are awesome!) and made awkward conversation with my seat mate:

Him: This flight is terrible!
Me: It's not so bad really.
Him: I got up at 2am.
Me: Yeah, I did at 3am. Is Philly your last stop?
Him: Yeah, I just have to take a cab. You?
Me: I have a 3-hour drive to upstate NY, but my husband's picking me up.
[a few minutes later... The TV is showing a Mickey Mouse cartoon, in which Pluto starts jumping on Mickey and licking his face when he arrives home]
Him: Ha ha, I bet that's what your husband's going to be like when you see him!
Me: Uhmmm... yeah.

My main concern flying back, of course, was for my samples. I ended up bringing around 200 teeth and 100 pieces of femora. I had thoroughly researched all the EU and US regulations on exporting and importing human skeletal remains, which are different if they're from an archaeological collection or from recently-dead people. I got letters from my advisor and from the Archaeological Superintendency in Rome saying that they were old bones, they had no dirt, and they were for research paid for by the NSF. I printed out all the EU regulations in three languages, I had all this information in my purse, and the samples were all individually wrapped in aluminum foil and placed in labelled ziplock bags. No one bothered me at the xrays at Fiumicino. No one batted an eye in Frankfurt when they scanned my bag. And, even though I listed the samples on the back of my customs form (at no value) in the US, no one even turned the form over.

The moral of the story is... airport security will confiscate 2 ounces of saline solution, they will make you pour out your bottle of drinking water, and they will make you throw away pots of lip balm, but 7 pounds of dead people? A-ok!


Anonymous said…
Good news for my next job overseas! Now I don't have to worry about restrictions on dead people, mwahahahaha!

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