…Not really though. But much like Russel Crowe’s spoofed characterization in an infamous South Park episode, intention is everything.
As i sit here in Heathrow airport awaiting my flight to Johannesburg, on only 7 hours of sleep in the past 48 hours, i can’t help but smile that the most uncomfortable part of my journey so far has simply been that lack of sleep. Allow me to elaborate a little.
Living on the West coast of Canada, some of the best places nearby to visit are in the United States, and as such I have frequently flown in the states. Those of you familiar with flying in the United States (or simply crossing the boarder from time to time) know that the screening processes for entering the country can be a little…stern at times. Being so familiar with the security processes they put into place for air transportation, I was expecting the same treatment internationally because, lets face it, terrorists can be from anywhere, right?
I was so happy to be blindsided by some of the most polite and hospitable security agents I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Offering tissues after tearful goodbyes, walking elderly people patiently through the screening process and apologizing for the inconvenience of having to search bag and even promising to keep the process as swift as possible for the eager travelers.
This experience reminded me of an article i read recently of a writer’s attempt to travel from Montreal to New Orleans in lieu of his late father’s love for jazz and the French Quarter. In this article he describes in great detail the treatment he received from border agents because he had previously visited parts of the world that these uneducated boarder guards deemed unsavory. Long story short, after hours and hours of being detained, searched, interrogated and threatened, he was denied entry into the country and vowed to “Never travel within the United States again.”
This is a great example of not only how controlling fear can be for an individual, but how it can affect relationships with others. It’s the same on a personal and global level.
I now complete this entry from a hotel room in Madagascar where I can still say with assurance that I still agree with my previous thoughts above. Heading into a “third world” nation [side note: I’m not sure I like that term, nor do i like the term “underdeveloped.” Content for future blog updates i guess?] like this, or even through South Africa where political unrest was not unheard of, I was surprised at how comfortable the entry process was. Walked up with my Visa, got a “Merci!” and away I went.
The reason I share this entry? moreover a simple insight i noticed from traveling through 4 countries & 3 continents int he span of 2 days. The world is smaller than we think, and the way we relate to our brothers and sisters around the globe says a lot about who we are.