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  • Tom Stein

At the Airport

Our last day in Haiti. Time pack and repack, trying to get balance the weight. A lovely breakfast of eggs, tomatoes, pineapple and juice, coffee with cream and brown cane sugar to follow, all over a slight debrief.

So many sights and sounds, faces etched with struggle. So many lacking the necessities of life -- water, fuel, food, clothing and work. So many children without clothes, shoes and no way to get any. So many orphaned simple because their parents just can't take care of them. There are the smells of the streets and the markets, the layer of dust that covers everything, no matter how often you clean. The aqua and deep blue waters of the Caribbean, the mountain vistas and so much more.

Now it is time to go. The road to the airport is much improved. The entry process, the drug sniffing dog, also new. The ticketing process much smoother, as well. Until I hoist up my bag. 4 pounds overweight, a quick repack. Then the boarding passes won't print. Then a fee for each checked bag -- even though they ought to be free.

Okay, now it's time for a security check. Passports out, once again.

We are in the terminal. We head upstairs to do the normal shopping -- tasting rhum, sniffing cigars. Use the restroom. Enjoy the air conditioning. And it's time to head to the gate, but first another security check. Where are the passports?

We enter the glass holding pen. It's air conditioned, but not every blower is blowing. The occasional puff of cool air is familiar now. It's been this way for days. This room was built when the planes coming and going were much smaller. Now, as the room continues to fill, the temperature rises and the occasional puffs of cool air a harder to feel, but the humidity of the crowd is not.

The flight is called, a more orderly process than in the past. At least most people follow the loading pattern, group A, followed by group B, etc. Once again, tickets are out. Just past the counter you must give receipts to pick up your parcels. Each store does the packaging differently. It's a puzzle that takes 3 hours to solve. Which bottles will go in which checked bags. You can't carry on a fifth of rhum. Hmmm...

On the plane at last. Everything is back to normal right? Oh! That would too easy. The first seat I sit in, next to my wife, is not my seat. Oh! Okay. I'll move. The next seat is broken. No. I don't want to sit with a spring or two inserting themselves into my body. I don't like to be probed. I find a new seat next to Patricia. Great. I plug in my headset. Nothing. Select a channel. Nothing. 30 minutes into the flight they show me this model takes a few more steps. Okay. I rest for awhile.

Let's see what the next 12 hours bring.

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