Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Beijing Bustle

The day before Thanksgiving is the busiest day of air travel in the US. When my escorts and I arrived at the international terminal and walked in - it appeared to be the busiest day in Beijing as well. Every available seat in the foyer was occupied by sleeping and weary travelers. I turned to my companions - whose eyes were wide with surprise at the crowds and said "remember to pray hard - this is what it will be like in the US!" "We will, we will, we are sorry."

What was I thinking when I committed to this day of flying? Just getting through customs required fearless bravado, aggressive maneuvering of 200 lbs of luggage and no "excuse me please" polite passings.

Once cleared through customs CHAOS! Thousands of people stopped - looking around, chattering in multiple languages, somewhere bound - if not home. The Venezuela Olympic team didn't understand the broken English of the Chinese health inspector when she asked about contact with "birds". Frankly, even to me it sounded like "beards". The coach turned to me with a bewildered look "no habla Espanol?" "Pollo" I replied - he laughed and finally answered satisfactorily to the question.

The Koreans couldn't figure out which line to get in, the Chinese just pushed forward, the American's (including me) appeared frustrated, the French bewildered at the cost of a coke, and the German's casually cashing in on duty free cigarettes.

Me, well - I'm just trying to make it through one more airport, one more departure, one more goodbye

Again....