Sunday, December 30, 2007
Jorge Chavez International Airport
[click image for larger view]
Another day of waking up early to inhale a complimentary breakfast (Alpaca Bacon!) and catch a flight. The New Year’s celebrations are already at a boil, as demonstrated by the four guys in front of my hotel staggering around an antique Dodge Coronet at 5:30AM. Still full of last night’s fun, que baraccho!
And now I am in another International concourse, waiting on a plane. This time to Quito to meet up with the rest of the proto-MBAs. I bought a couple bottles of the local brandy (Pisco) to share around the group. Otherwise, it is a morning like any other. Up much too early, fighting with the Internet and speaking sleepy Spanish.
One of the many strange things about beginning your day at 4AM is that when asked by a polite waitress in an airport restaurant if you would like a beer, you say “Yes.” The fact that it is 10:30AM does not weigh on the choice. Who is to judge? I have been up for more than six hours and everyone I know is half a world away. A second Cusquena? Why not, I don’t have to fly the plane. Or maybe the still displayed Christmas garlands and the crisp Salsa music have put me in the mood for self-indulgence.
Now is the point where the trip changes gears. Traveling alone is a wonder. You are alone with your thoughts but, more than that, you do not have to experience a new place through the reactions of other people. Traveling with a group is a pleasure because of the methods that spring up for how to order in a restaurant, choose destinations and mitigate everyone’s experiences. Traveling with other people creates a bond, for good or ill, like no other. But, traveling alone is equally a pleasure because it feels like the deck is half-stacked with wild cards. Do you want to get off of the train in the night in some town you have never heard of because the Columbian in the seat across from you says a taxi from here will get you back to your hotel faster. Of course you do. Getting a group of twenty anxious and sometimes travel weary Americans to jump the plan would be an all-together more difficult thing.
Regardless, a change is inevitable and I look forward to seeing many of my traveling companions from China again. And I look forward to more stamps in my passport, more tread worn off of my shoes and a chance to crack open these bottles of Pisco with friends.