Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Travel Day

I wrote this during my layover in Miami. The last leg of my travel day stretched out longer than I anticipated, but I'll have to share that story after I get some sleep!
Today has been… odd. I woke up before my alarm went off with a stomach ache. Waking up before the alarm rings really isn’t that unusual for me, but the stomach ache part was new. After my brain started functioning I realized today was the day I was leaving Haiti to spend the holidays with my family. Then the stomach ache made sense.

I haven’t mentioned it to very many people, but I’m pretty nervous about going home for Christmas. I’ve only been out of the US for three and half months. In the grand scheme of things, that really isn’t that long. Yet, I feel like much of my life has changed in those months. I’ve been anxious about how those changes will affect my relationships with my loved ones. First there’s the fear that I won’t be able to find the words to explain what’s happened in my life and heart. But mostly I guess I’m nervous that the people who know me the best suddenly won’t understand me anymore. And I don’t know how I’ll cope if that happens.

Possibly the strangest, and most significant, sighting of the day was on the way to the airport. Beth drove me to the airport this morning, and we traveled roads we take every time we go to Petionville or Delma. There’s a park near the police station that has been a tent city for the past 11 months, and I always gawk as we drive past. Today, however, there were sections where the tents, the people, everything was missing. Entire sections of the tent city have disappeared. We had a moment of celebration in the car. The absence of even some of the tents is a triumph for the nation of Haiti. I’m excited to see how many more tents are gone when I return in 2.5 weeks.

Beyond my stomach ache this morning and the missing tents in Petionville, there have been several other interesting incidents. First, I ate a hamburger for breakfast. It makes me chuckle even now because I’m sure the lady who served me thought I was crazy. But the airport shop in Port au Prince was crazy busy and I didn’t feel like struggling through the language issues to order something more breakfast appropriate. Also at the P.a.P. airport were the funny little conversations I had with the airport workers. Being able to speak a few words of Creole makes for some funny exchanges. One security guy waved me through the metal detector. I had left my passport holder on around my neck because I knew I could get away with not taking it off. He pointed at it and said, “Passport?” So I showed him the inside. Then he asked me in French if I spoke French. I said, “No.” But then he asked me a question not in English. I told him in Creole that he talks too fast, so he asked me my name in Creole. I answered him, and he told me to have a good day. I thought it was pretty entertaining.

In Miami I had a scheduled 7 hour layover, and I came to a strange realization: It’s really obnoxious to comprehend all the words being spoken around me. I’ve come to enjoy being oblivious to what others are saying, and I find it annoying to be subject to everyone else’s thoughts. For instance, I didn’t really need to know about all the different religious organizations working in Madagascar or the horse farm in Waco, Texas. I especially didn’t want to overhear the argument between mother and daughter about traveling to Europe. But there were some good parts to my layover. At one point a man behind me started speaking Creole on his phone. It was sweet music to my ears! I didn’t understand everything he said, but it was nice to hear some familiar sounds. Then there was the man who exited the bathroom with a good 3 feet of toilet paper hanging off his shoe. How does that even happen? If I see t.p. on the floor, I avoid stepping on it. And then there are the babies. I love babies. The Miami airport has been full of babies today. I wish I could pick them up and cuddle them, but I think going to jail for attempted kidnapping would put a damper on Christmas. So I just smiled and waved.

I’m hoping that the oddness ends there. I don’t really want to experience more weirdness on my final flight or the drive home from O’Hare. But I suppose weird is a better theme for the day than frustration or patience or even boring.

No comments:

Post a Comment