Going to the North with Silvio – Chile

I’ve never been a huge fan of research before traveling. When I first went overseas, to the Cook Islands, the other Canadian volunteer had read what white said about brown until he had some very strange ideas about island culture. He told me I couldn’t wear black, for instance, and even had the temerity to say it in front of some high school students wearing black t-shirts. Some of my friends even, I would call it, over-prepare. My friend went to France on a trip of her own design and every day was packed with activities. The advantage of that was that she saw many things that I’d never even heard of, while when I was in Belgium I stood outside a cathedral pondering whether to pay the entrance fee for a glimpse of Michelangelo’s Mother and Son, only to find out later that if I walked another several steps I could have entered for free.

I’m sure there is a happier medium somewhere between these two extremes. Today I have been wandering around the Mexico City airport on a seven hour layover on my way to Chile. Since I didn’t have internet at home before I left, and I was busy with the house, I didn’t look up Chile, or the airport I’m flying into. Now that I have airport wifi, as well as too much time on my hands, I found that Chile has restrictions on all kinds of food items. Even packaged goods are sometimes taken away and destroyed. Since I knew I was in transit and would likely not have a vegetarian meal, I brought too much fruit. Likely I will have to lose my two packages of figs, and I have already thrown away my peanuts and prunes. The rest of the food I have already eaten, some of it more recently choked down quickly before my flight, but most of the blame for this waste is on my recalcitrance about planning.

In Santiago, I am meeting Silvio, who is also not that great about planning. Only yesterday, when I was in Toronto waiting on the flight to Mexico, did he think to look up where he would be picking me up at the airport. He sent me a photo of an overhang and suggested it was on the second floor. I’m sure we will find each other, and in any event we are much better prepared for our trip, and life itself, than the religious fanatics who just passed me as I was writing this. For them the world is a constant deliberately convoluted mystery wrapped in a thick gutter loaf of ignorance. Everything must seem strange to them. They spent ten minutes discussing their gate. They were in front of the information booth, but perhaps a lifelong habit of putting their trust in the ineffable instead of their fellow humans leads them to striking out alone. They are like the deluded swimmer who eyes the Atlantic crossing with aplomb, only to find themselves choking on salt water ten metres from the shore.

The greatest thing about the Mexican airport is the chairs. They have the usual hostile architecture I have written about before, but in this case they have been modified by weary travelers. The stainless steel arches, used as armrests, have been bent down byhostile seating modifiedl frustrated travelers so they can stretch out on the chairs. Like Thoreau said years ago, the public utility of the seating is being tested by their traveler’s urge to modify.

About Barry Pomeroy

I had an English teacher in high school many years ago who talked about writing as something that people do, rather than something that died with Shakespeare. I began writing soon after, maudlin poetry followed by short prose pieces, but finally, after years of academic training, I learned something about the magic of the manipulated word.
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