Monday, December 20, 2010

Pat-downs, Passports, Patties and Pain

We have made it to Dallas. There was concern that we would not be able to fly out on our scheduled flights due to the political unrest; I was working on contingency plans, including swimming from Cap Haitien to the Florida Keys.

The airport is my least favorite thing about Haiti. I actually hate it. But I think it's a good case study of Haiti's interaction with the rest of the world, particularly America. The begging and hustling at the airport is the same, if not worse, than the rest of the city and it's not just the man trying to sell you one last trinket before you leave. It's the guy whose job it is to direct the lines and put your bags on the conveyor belt- he asked me for money, and he asked my mother-in-law for $20 in September. Really? You have a job. You are working right now. American Airlines is paying you, probably better than most other companies. And I also didn't like how you called my wife sexy.

The airport is also chaotic in many other ways- the security is tight and annoyingly redundant. For all of America's complaints about pat-downs, back-scatter x-rays, and the concern over a lack of professionalism by the TSA, Toussaint L'Ouverture Airport has us beat. My bags were xrayed and searched twice- once before I even got to the ticket counter, and again after the ticket counter on my way to the waiting area. I passed through 2 metal detectors, had one pat-down, and then immediately after passing through one metal detector I was wanded with a hand held-metal detector. At the end I had my boarding pass checked 3 times in less than 50 yards: by a lady with a scanner, as I entered the skybridge, and then again at the end of the skybridge before I got on the plane.

I am all for security. I would rather be patted down and xrayed with the pictures going up on deadspin.com (I have lost weight and am really confident in myself image now). I don't care about those things, but I am irritated by needless redundancy.

Coming and going from Haiti is so strange to me. Each place has familiar dream-like qualities, but they're so different that when I'm in one place I often find myself wondering: was the other real? The poverty, crudeness and simple pleasures of Haiti contrast sharply with the extravagance and orderliness of the States. I wonder if the way I remember each and struggle with their differences are similar to the way the children in the Narnia books struggle with their two worlds.

One lesson I should have learned from being home this summer is to watch what I eat for the first week. I struggle with this because I am a glutton. I love good food. I like to cook it,  read about it, and of course eat it. It is the thing I think about most the day before I get back to the States. I am not exaggerating when I say that I make a list of the places I want to go eat and email them to friends.

The problem with this, besides revealing a level of depravity yet to be sanctified out of me, is that my stomach cannot take the richness of American food, and also that I have no self-control. In the four days I have been home, I have consumed Mexican food (x3), my favorite burger, Texas' finest beer, and Chick-Fil-A in above average quantities. Chronic stomachaches will be my companion for the early part of each visit home until I can learn some self-discipline. I would probably be better off with salad and yogurt, but where is the fun in that? I know the things I should do, but don't do them... Paul was right.

Maybe next time.

Ben

2 comments:

  1. Great analogy! You are like the kids in the Narnia books! I pray you and Katie have a great Christmas, focused on the Great King! - Missy

    ReplyDelete
  2. If you work on it, maybe you can get Trusted Traveler status. Have a Merry Christmas you two.

    ReplyDelete

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