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 witha stomach ache. Waking up before the alarm rings really isn’t that unusual forme, but the stomach ache part was new. After my brain started functioning Irealized today was the day I was leaving Haiti to spend the holidays with myfamily. Then the stomach ache made sense.

I haven’t mentioned it to very many people, but I’m prettynervous about going home for Christmas. I’ve only been out of the US for threeand 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 anxiousabout how those changes will affect my relationships with my loved ones. Firstthere’s the fear that I won’t be able to find the words to explain what’shappened in my life and heart. But mostly I guess I’m nervous that the peoplewho know me the best suddenly won’t understand me anymore. And I don’t know howI’ll cope if that happens.

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

Beyond my stomach ache this morning and the missing tents inPetionville, there have been several other interesting incidents. First, I atea hamburger for breakfast. It makes me chuckle even now because I’m sure thelady who served me thought I was crazy. But the airport shop in Port au Princewas crazy busy and I didn’t feel like struggling through the language issues toorder something more breakfast appropriate. Also at the P.a.P. airport were thefunny little conversations I had with the airport workers. Being able to speaka few words of Creole makes for some funny exchanges. One security guy waved methrough the metal detector. I had left my passport holder on around my neckbecause I knew I could get away with not taking it off. He pointed at it andsaid, “Passport?” So I showed him the inside. Then he asked me in French if Ispoke French. I said, “No.” But then he asked me a question not in English. I told him in Creolethat he talks too fast, so he asked me my name in Creole. I answered him, andhe 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 astrange realization: It’s really obnoxious to comprehend all the words beingspoken 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 organizationsworking in Madagascar or the horse farm in Waco, Texas. I especially didn’t wantto 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 mestarted speaking Creole on his phone. It was sweet music to my ears! I didn’tunderstand 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 toiletpaper hanging off his shoe. How does that even happen? If I see t.p. on thefloor, 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 upand cuddle them, but I think going to jail for attempted kidnapping would put adamper on Christmas. So I just smiled and waved.

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

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