Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Airport Delight

A little over a week back in the "real world" and already, life in Cameroon feels like a dream, and not even a vivid one. This trip so far has helped me realize the incredible ability to compartmentalize life according to its experiences. This is not to say I did not experience all kinds of culture shock trotting the globe between three countries in less than one week.

I have a sick liking for airports and airplanes. World travelers are common in today's ever-shrinking world, but most people I know still hate the part of reaching the destination – the grueling process of getting to the airport, check-in, waiting, boarding, being squeezed in a tiny economy class seat, eating not-so-stellar food and breathing pressurized air for hours, etc. I, on the other hand, enjoy putting a different spin on the process.

When was standing in line to check in for my flight out of Cameroon, which by the way, I don't remember the last time I ever had to stand in line for check in, I almost cried from excitement. Boarding for a flight poses all sorts of interesting possibilities. I love people watching in an airport: the excited vacationer, the stressed business traveler, those excited to return to familiarity, and those nervous to embark upon new possibility.

Boarding the plane a week or so ago was my first flight in nearly one year. That's the longest consecutive period I had gone without flying since after high school. Having lived without high technology for so long, I was quite out of practice with airport procedures. Thankfully, the Yaoundé airport in Cameroon is not at all complicated. It was the only flight leaving the airport at the time of departure or thereabouts, thus posing no risk of going to the wrong place.
Once I got to my seat, many little things surprised me. The seats were so clean, and I get my very own. Then I remembered the wonder that is individual screens in front of the seats. But I was reminded being still kind of in Cameroon when the Air France magazine in the seat in front of me is old and the movies in the back did not correspond to the movies showing. :) However, minor detail and I was very okay with it. I must also note how wonderful that airplane meal tasted. I ate every block of that Camembert cheese and every bite of everything else included. I am also embarrassed to admit that I had a little trouble releasing the tray table… I forgot how it's done. Let's just say, all in all, I was way more villageoise than the Cameroonian gentleman sitting next to me.

Petit à petit, I was finding my way back into the real world.

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