Sunday, February 04, 2007

Exhaustion in the South Pacific

Nadi International Airport, Fiji

After six hours in the air from New York to L.A., a quick layover at LAX and another 10.5 hours crossing the Pacific, I’m now sitting in the departure terminal in Nadi, Fiji. The photo below was taken minutes after touching foreign soil. THe enourmous double-decker 747 can be seen in the backgroun.

The flights so far have been forgettable as air travel, but memorable for the company. I have yet to reach Australia and have already made friends along the way – two business cards and two email addresses as well as an invitation to an Australian Rules Football match in Melbourne.

There’s no doubt that my mind switched gears once I entered JFK – fellow travelers are easy approach and there is common ground from the start. “Where you traveling to?” “Where have you been?” “How long you out for?” These are the building blocks of the fraternity of travelers. And they are all so friendly. Perhaps it’s because we are all away from home, uprooted from the day-to-day and looking for a little contact. Or it’s the excitement of being on the road and the desire to share a few minutes while in a line or waiting in a terminal. Whatever the source of this camaraderie, I like it. And the ease with which I’ve struck up conversations and made temporary friends has been a relief. I was worried about being shy, about having nothing to say, and it’s come naturally.

As I sit here waiting for my third flight of the day, I’ve stripped off my boot and socks and have my bare feet propped on a cushioned bench. When I took off my socks I released the first dose of traveler’s stink. Bottling this stench and selling it to ward of predators, thieves and undesirables would earn anyone a fortune.


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