For those who have been asking, yes I’m still working with the busticated tablet. It’s a laborious process, having to turn it in 90° angles to use the a, q and w keys.
And yesterday my camera decided to expire. So another line item in the budget I didn’t expect.
Landing in an unknown destination, especially when it’s a place whose primary language isn’t English, poses a whole array of hurdles to jump.
Even getting on the proper aircraft in the first place can pose particular challenges.
You hear over the airport address system, “Rmmm skwarr freen lay teo hat Virjeeeen Atlahhnteeec freen lingtahoo. Craney hut voor wak butter ses porta clarm let.”
And when the announcements are in, say, Spanish, the intrepid traveller may as well just curl up on the floor and weep.
But let’s assume, by no small miracle, that the traveller actually makes it on the right flight and the proper seat.
Hours later, dishevelled and staggering, comes baggage return. Always – every single time – comes the worry if one’s checked luggage arrives.
Don’t tell me that you’ve got all confidence that your bags aren’t going to end up in some distant land. I know you don’t.
Next, Passport Control. Again, not in English. You present your passport. A fast series of vowels and consonants fired in your direction. They kinda sound like words, but you can’t really be sure.
She fans through your passport and looks at the photo. Then you. Then the photo. Then you again.
More fast noises that might be words. She may be speaking in Martian for all you know.
Then the exasperated look from the passport officer, as if to say, “You really have no idea what you’re doing, do you?” And you nod yes, even though you have no clue what’s been said.
She shoos you away. “Go. Gwan. Get lost. Loser.”
That’s what it sounds like, anyway.
Then customs. A line for Nothing To Declare and one for Items To Declare. Pick the Nothing To Declare line. And you never can really be sure if you’re nonchalant enough. What if they pull me out of line? I’ve got nothing, will they make me empty my entire luggage to prove it? And what if there’s something I’ve forgotten about? Is my upper lip sweating?
Your tired smile is met with a stone glare. “Your CD 34 please.”
Rolling of the eyes. “Your CD34. For customs. You did fill one out, didn’t you? No? Fill one out, then back of the line. Idiot.”
Sounds like that anyway.
Finally, you’re officially in your destination.
If you have a pre-arranged pick up, fall to your knees in thanks. She will drive you to your hotel and walk you through the check-in process as if she’s managing a toddler.
But if you’re on your own upon arrival, just hang the words “Easy pickings!!” around your neck. A cabbie will gladly take you to your hotel. For 76 American dollars. Normally it’s about $12.
Finally, you’re in your room. At last. A comfy bed for your aching, exhausted body. Unpack, put things in their proper place so everything’s organised and easy to find.
Then, naturally, you jolt awake at about 3 in the morning, because you can’t remember where your passport is. A short, frantic search. Found it. But your body is on some distant clock, and besides, you’re too wired to sleep anymore.
And so your day begins in your new destination. Your travel agent has arranged a city tour. Pick-up is set for 5:30. In the morning.
Welcome to the traveller’s world.