I'm-a leavin'....

All our bags are packed, we're ready to go...  That's the part of going away that I hate the most.  As a diabetic there's a lot of stuff to remember, especially when you're on an insulin pump.  You need a lot of supplies for two weeks and you need to double them incase some are duds, and they need to be in your carry-on, just incase something happens to your luggage enroute.

You need a good supply of things to deal with low blood sugar as well.  You don't want to be passed out in a foreign country.  One of the best things to have on hand to help an unconscious diabetic with hypoglycemia is icing sugar.  You can put some in an unresponsive person's mouth and it will be absorbed easily into the blood stream through the tongue.  But I won't be taking icing sugar in my carry-on to Venezuela.  Seems like common sense now-a-days, but in 1976, it wasn't quite so obvious.

In 1976 my husband was attending boarding school in Canada and traveling regularly between Toronto and Caracas.  His parents were living in El Pao, Venezuela and his mom was an avid baker. One thing they couldn't get in the local market was icing sugar, so she asked her son to bring her some when he came home for his Christmas vacation.  I bet she was really excited at the thought of making royal icing for her sugar cookies that year.  I bet she had no idea what  excitement she was about to put her teenage son through, a rather naive 14 year old who had no idea what cocaine looked like.

Upon arrival at Customs at Simon Bolivar Airport, my husband lifted his suitcase onto the conveyor belt with the other passengers and opened his suitcase to wait his turn for a security officer to rummage through his clothes.  In Venezuela, the security at the airport was and still is, the Army.  A group of very fit, very stern looking men in army fatigues with an automatic weapon slung over one shoulder watch your every move while you do your best to not look guilty.

My husband's turn came and it wasn't long before the guard located one of the two bags of Redpath icing sugar packed in it's distinctive clear plastic bag with blue and red graphics.  He pulled it out of the suitcase and gave my husband a questioning look.  "It's sugar for my mother," he said (well, he said it in Spanish but I'm to lazy to google translate).  The guard called a co-worker over and they had a brief discussion.  My hubby over heard the word 'cocaine'.

"Come with me" the first guard said, "and bring the suitcase."

He did as told and entered a small room followed by the guard, who shut the door behind him.  He went through the suitcase again, taking both bags of icing sugar out of the case and setting them on the table.

"What it this?" he asked.

I'm sure my husband was feeling a little worried by this time...a suspected cocaine smuggler, alone a small room with an armed man.

"It's sugar....icing sugar," my nervous hubby replied, "You can't get it here...it's for my Mom!"

When he tells the story he says he managed to squeeze out a tear or two.  That was when the guard took a knife from his pocket.

He sliced a hole in the sugar package and stuck a finger into the white powder, his eyes never leaving my husband's face.  He lifted his finger to his mouth and licked it.  Obviously it was sugar and the guard realized it.  He let my husband pack up his things, led him out of the room and sent him on his way.  That was the end of my husband's days as his mother's sugar mule.


  1. Have a fantastic trip. Don't pack the sugar!! Safe travels.


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