Back in the USSR, er... Where Am I?
Trip Start Aug 01, 2006
18Trip End ??? ??, 2007
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From Rags to Riches
in Just Over Two Hours
I wondered, standing in the security line for gates 20-41, with my Starbucks Chai Tea Latte in hand, if somehow BECA had the power to arrange history? Was it possible that they wanted me to get hit in the face with such force? There's probably not much that could have made a bigger impact on me then to go from the second highest level of poverty in the western hemisphere to the second has the highest level affluence. And all in less then two-and-one-half hours! To leave Cofradia, Cortes, Honduras in a beat up, wired up, less than no frills pickup truck, to jet from San Pedro at 3:10, and to land in Miami two hours and twenty minutes later, at the height of the Christmas season, is something reality TV producers dream about.
I stood there, feeling the warmth of my Chai pushing through the thin cardboard cup and corrigated cardboard sleeve, trying to take in all the sensations around me. There was the usual airport hustle and bustle, but it was different. It was more. And everything was incredibly shiny. The lights were shiny. The countertops reflected the shine. And everything seemed abnormally clean. It was all different.
How Do You Say, "Hi?"
And I became aware of my now natural tendency, when I had squeezed through a crowded area just outside customs, and mumbled to those I bumped against, "Perdona me." Or how when a man in a white hat, walking past me in his dark suit, loaded down with luggage, I greeted him with, "Buenos dias, Senor."
Then, when I finally reached the security check, the security agent told me that I could not pass through their detectors with my tea in hand.
I had heard about the need for regulated and checked liquids, and the scare from a couple months ago. It just had not sunk in real deep. I stood there in disbelief and, motioning with my shoulder, countered with, "You sell these in there don't you?" She really didn't need to answer my query. I knew immediately that it was a fruitless attempt. I surmised that surely they must trust Starbucks not to sell explosive Chai tea on the other side of the sniffers and scanners. Whereas to trust an unknown like me would simply be foolish.
The whole Christmas - thing - had never made less sense to me than it did then. And over the next week and a half it has hit me time and again just how crazy the whole Merry Christmas Dash for More Goods now seemed.
And I can't pass judgement on anyone who plays along. I would like some of those things. I saw two books I would love to have purchased. I have no time to read them, but I would have liked them, just the same. I would love some new tennis shoes, an air conditioner (yes, that's right, and I'll make no apologies), a lot of teaching aids, a variety of other school supplies, some tough rubber balls for recess, and... and... The list really does seem endless. I still want. And, it seems crazy to me. Already, my little apartment in Cofradia has too much stuff.
So I wonder if I can find a place, some space to inhabit, between needing nothing and wanting it all? Is there a place in the middle? A place where I can encounter my students and stand with them, and feel their sweat, see their smiles, and share their lives, where the biggest need is simply to meet reality honestly each morning? And can I learn along with them how to know the difference between the wants and needs we bump up against every day?