Years ago it was a pretty easy thing to get an amazing picture as to the left when you were at the airport seeing your friends off. But now, as you well know, no one can go past the security checkpoint without a boarding pass. And with all that's happened in the last decade or so, I'm all too glad that airport security has been beefed up. This is an amazing shot I got in 2012 as I was headed to Honduras for the birth of my granddaughter. I just happened to have a good seat by the window at my gate waiting to board. The sky was sheer morning-glory gold and red perfection, and the plane landing here entered my frame at just the right time! Not being able to accompany your traveler to their gate and wait with them until they board and then (sometimes unsuccessfully) follow their plane out to the tarmac, watching and hoping to get a glimpse of takeoff, has indeed changed the fun of your whole family seeing you off and being a part of the process, even if they are not going with you. People used to love a trip to the airport just for the scenery! It was a great time, but a time that is forever gone. Safety now is numero uno, and I totally am okay with that. Now when my husband takes me to the airport (he HATES going to the airport), there is pretty much nothing for him to do till I depart, so he basically stops outside, opens the door and shoves me out at the curb with my luggage!! (JK)
This is not the case in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Going totally off point, did you know that the Teguz airport is the second most dangerous airport in the world? Yep, I am totally NOT kidding; look it up. It is because it has an unusually short runway. Ooh, I know, it's pretty scary! I did not know this the first time I landed there, but wondered why one of our flying buddies was so nervous. He told us later about the record this small airport holds, and a story about how one of the first airplanes to land there clipped the mountains when it landed. There was also a story of a pilot that tried to make a landing 10 times before he got up the nerve to go for it! Additions have helped in recent years to ensure a safer runway, but it is still common for the entire plane full of passengers to break into shouts and hand-clapping every time a plane lands in Tegucigalpa! Now, back on point: Even though you also cannot breach the security checkpoint with your loved ones, it is small enough that you can see the planes take off. It's also a different story when it comes to long waits on the tarmac. My last flight leaving Atlanta, our plane was 12th in line on the runway to take off. Needless to say, we spent the first 30 minutes of our flight time waiting. I have also heard horror stories of waiting on the tarmac for two hours for a gate to pull into. Not so in Teguz. Even though the small airport does not even compare to Atlanta Hartsfield or any other international airport for that matter, you'd be surprised at just how many planes take off and land while you're sitting there waiting on your flight to board. It's more than you would think, and they take off and land on the same runway. Well, techinically, I think there might be two, so don't quote me on that one. But once your plane taxis out to the runway, it's mere seconds until you're in the air. And, once your plane lands, it's again mere seconds before you reach your gate. There is also a great viewing window where family members can watch planes land and take off. Nice!
As I sat in the airport waiting to board my flight back to Atlanta, I was able to sit with Abbie for awhile as she waited to board her flight on another airline. Once she boarded, I snapped the image below of her plane which, within minutes of taking this picture, was airborne for Houston. As I watched her plane pound the runway, gaining enough speed for liftoff, I shed a tear and said a little prayer for safety. I thought about how the 21st century has changed the way people think about air travel. There are few places in the world you can go where you cannot probably be there within a 24-hour block of time. Wow, that still amazes me when I remember that air travel is not really that old in the total realm of things. As I watched the plane rise off the ground, I felt a sense of nostalgia for the old airport protocol of the sixties and seventies and felt I had gone back in time for a moment...except for the fact that my baby girl was on that flight and, in just a couple of hours, she would be in a place far away from me.
Recently I considered a phenomenon about nature that I think is worth sharing. Of course those of you who think of yourselves as intellectuals may have thought of this much sooner than I, but I'd still like to offer a suggestion that maybe even you have not considered (humor me). Don't you think the sun is absolutely fascinating? Well, duh. The sun is fascinating for many reasons; for beginners, it is the perfect amount of miles from earth (or earth from it, actually) that it gives us the needed warmth to be comfortable, grow all sorts of vegetation, and -- well, pretty much survive. But it is far enough away to not completely burn us up in a firey ball of wrath. There are myriad interesting facts about the sun and how it affects our ecology and the system which revolves around it.
For those of us who lived during the sun-worshipping days of the seventies, we learned from experience that the sun can be your worst enemy if you are not also best buds with a good sunscreen. In my teenage sun-worshiping years, I remember taking a bar of pure cocoa butter, warming it in my hands till it began to melt and then slathering my fair blond body with it as I baked in the sun for hours on end. Ditto with baby oil. Ouch! Once I had such a bad sunburn that I ran a fever and had to rest in bed for a couple of days. Technically I guess it was sun poisoning. And today I am suffering the results of too much sun in the form of wrinkles and age spots. Ugh. So much for "sun worshipping" for this California girl wannabe.
But in more recent days I have thought of the sun in a more personal light (no pun intended). One day as I was missing my children (which I do just about every single second of every single day, as you know), I had an epiphany. I thought to myself...I could get all my kids outside at the same time looking at the sun, and we would all be looking at the same thing together at the same time. Wow! Pretty silly I know with Skype, iphones and Facetime, email, and television. There are many opportunities today where we all can be connecting, even all of us together at the same time. But the thought of us all enjoying the warmth of the sun, something real and necessary for life at the same time gave me such joy -- kind of like, but not as good, having a great meal together around the same table. I believe this is why: We could all feast our eyes (not for long, though) upon something real that is vital to life at the very same time together...wherever we are. Not a picture of something or a cyber picture of something, or a delayed image of something, or something recorded, but at the real thing. Now, I am smart enough to know this will not work if you're in a different hemisphere from another, in which case the sun may be shining in one while the moon is glowing in the other. Also, I have yet to try and organize this endeavor, as I am positively sure my kids have more important things to do with their time than to go gaze at the sun for their mom. But sometimes when I am talking to one of them, I'll say Hey, is the sun shining there? It is? Well, go look at it. And when they do, I say Hey, I'm looking at the same exact sun! You can see the same sun I can see! The same sun, even though we are 1400 miles away from each other. Just one more small (however silly) way that I can connect with my kids.
But as the hot, humid days of summer are coming to a close and the cooler, clear-blue-sky days of fall approach, I enjoy the warmth of a sunny day more than ever. Unlike the let me get out of the hot sun brutal days of a southern summer, the cooler days invite us out into the crisp, clear air to gaze towards the sun and be thankful that we have a most excellent source of heat and light for our lives upon this earth. Even on the occasional bitter cold day we might have during the winter months in the south, the sun affords its gentle warmth to everyone. And maybe sometimes it might even serve as the great social equalizer as well, especially if it graces us with its glory on the day of our long-awaited picnic at the park. Also too, if we all just happen to be putting our faces toward it together at exactly the same time -- wherever we are in the world.
It's been a while since I've posted. Had I really tried, I might've been able to squeeze in a couple of posts while traveling the last couple of weeks. But the "busyness" of my schedule, the glorious fatigue acquired by chasing a toddler around (resulting in 9:00 p.m. bedtimes for me), and the fickleness of the internet in those parts made me choose to just "be" and make relaxing with my family the highlight of my trip. It was just what the doctor ordered. I played with my granddaughter, watched Sesame Street videos, cooked with my sweet girls, and enjoyed the many pleasures that come when immersing one's self in a different ethnicity.
There are many things on my mind today as I write. I think of the joys experienced in getting away and seeing new things. I think of the challenges of visiting a different culture where you don't know the language. And I think of the insecurity that comes along with that, leading to the possibility of not making it through immigration because you cannot communicate and you are traveling alone (that really happened). I well up with the pride of seeing my children and their way of life -- simple, giving, challenging lives that in no way could I, as their mother, even attempt to live. I think about the high's and the low's of a way of life so different than my own, the many human needs found in a developing country, and the smiles and embracing hugs of those who welcome me every time I visit. I think of the grievous hardships placed on people who should have no hope, but who hope for hope because of those hardships. I loved this quote I heard while there: Poverty is not having no money, it's having no hope. I think of my daily life and wonder how I can live better, give bigger, and love more extremely.
When most people travel to a country bordering the Caribbean, they envision white sandy beaches, crystal blue waters, lux accommodations, and exotic food. My venture into hispanic culture consisted of simple but clean accommodations, dusty roads instead of white sandy beaches, and uncomplicated but declicious food prepared by my sweet daughter. No McDonald's or Wendy's or other fast food establishments hanging out on every corner to pop in and out on a whim during a busy day. The positive side to this? I lost three pounds without even trying. Curse that fast food! It's the downfall of many people's diets around these parts I think.
On the more serious side, these thoughts inevitably lead to a refreshing of my love for the United States of America. There has been a lot of negativity surfacing in the news recently from those who would blame the USA for various atrocities, giving credence to people who seem to think there is somehow something, somewhere out there, that is better than this great country we live in. I know it's not perfect but all it takes for me to want to kiss its beautiful soil is to visit a country where roads are crappy, the infrastructure is -- well, virtually non-existent, and where you're taking your health into your own hands when you do something as simple as eating fresh produce. Police with machine guns are the norm, and many folks carry machetes so as to provide for their own safety. Small children walk along busy highways barefooted, playing in the runoff from who knows where. There is no DFACS there looking out for their wellbeing. In the poorest areas, there is no such thing as running water, let alone hot water. I think sometimes we surely take for granted this great country and all the pleasures, freedoms, and safety nets we enjoy. I'll reiterate: It's not perfect...it's far from perfect because it's made up of imperfect people, but in my opinion it's certainly the best of the rest.
Traveling has a way of causing me to tap into my creative side, to come alive and consider new possibilities. It challenges me to do better in my life, to see things from a different perspective, to count my blessings and to be happy in what I have and to not be bitter in what I don't have. And when I travel to another country, it broadens my horizons and indeed refreshes my appreciation of the blessings I am afforded by living in a country where we take so many things for granted. My daughters constantly challenge me to think outside of the box, to consider what others experience and feel, and to never believe that my way of life in rural Georgia is ever all there is.
Posted by CC
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