Saturday, January 13, 2007

Tales from the airport

I know I already wrote all about my trip to Colombia, but I thought I'd share some stories about people I met at the airport. First off, a complaint: Why am I always the one who everyone tries to cut in front of in line? Do I not stand close enough to the person in front of me? Do I look too docile to tap someone on the shoulder and tell them to get to the back of the line and wait their turn? Because I'm definitely not. "Excuse me, but the end of the line is back there, jerkface." Okay, so I don't say "jerkface," but I do think it really loudly.

On my flight from Miami to Medellín, I somehow ended up with a first class seat. I definitely didn't choose it when I booked my flight, and I don't think I paid anything extra, and I didn't even know about it until I picked up my boarding passes. I always scope out the people sitting in first class when I board a plane. Rich people intrigue me. However, I'm beginning to suspect that most of the people who are sitting in the big, cushy seats are not among the fabulously wealthy, but are in fact lowly economy class travelers like myself who lucked into an upgrade. I sat down next to a corpulent, middle-aged American man. Shortly into the flight, he tells me that he's going to Colombia and hoping to meet someone. I am confused. He explains. A wife, he is looking for a wife. Apparently there is some sort of tour in which a group of around twenty American men go to Medellin, stay in a hotel together, and attend events where they meet hundreds of potential Colombian brides. (I check on the internet, and yes, it's true.) The man explains the whole system to me, oblivious to the incredulous and somewhat aghast look on my face. One would think he would be a bit more discreet about his plans. Doesn't he realize that many people find this sort of thing, um, in poor taste? I asked him "Well, aren't you worried about marrying someone you don't know? And are you concerned at all as to how she would adjust to living in a country in which she doesn't speak the language or have any family or friends? " His response: "Well, my first wife is from the Phillipines, and I got her out of a catalogue." No joke, people.

Fast-forward to the flight home. Carolina and I were one the same flight, and in one of the many long lines leaving Colombia (My luggage got searched TWICE. No internal body cavity searches, though. Phew.) we met a American guy. I asked him what he had been doing in Medellín (not your typical tourist destination, or so I've heard) and he told me that he was supposed to get married the week before but the wedding had been called off. In the next breath, he added "No, I'm NOT one of those sleazy guys who comes down here to marry an eighteen year old! My ex-fiance and I met in business school in the states and we dated for four years." We ran into him again at the Miami airport during a long layover and had lunch together. He told us the whole tale of his failed romance- turns out that a few days before the wedding, he found out from the bride's brother that she had been cheating on him. Very telenovela, no? He had already bought a house in Medellín and sold his business, and was still planning to move there. This surprised Carolina. "Aren't you worried about safety issues?" His answer: "Oh, I am half-Israeli and was a combat instructor in the Israeli army for three years, so no, Colombia doesn't scare me at all."

The last encounter was more of an observation. At Logan airport, in front of the baggage carousel, a couple was loudly conversing. Well, not exactly conversing. An American guy, who obviously didn't speak Spanish, was trying to explain to a Colombian girl, who obviously didn't speak English, how to make a phone call with a calling card. "NO.....DIAL ONE....FIVE....SEVEN...." Then, she sat down on the edge of the luggage carousel "DON'T SIT THERE....WHEN THE BAGS COME OUT IT WILL START TO MOVE....LIKE THIS.....BRZZZZZ...MOVE...NO SIT...." Hey, here's a little tip: If someone doesn't understand your language, talking slowly and extremely loudly is not going to help matters. It will, however, alert the rest of the passengers awaiting their luggage that you found yourself a teenage bride via a Colombian dating service.

No comments: