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The International Writers Magazine
: Arriving

Why You Travel
Richard Turner

When landing in a foreign country after dark it’s pretty hard to tell just which one you’re in. Looking from the window seat of the plane on approach a cloak of darkness obscures any landmark that might help you deduce where you are. Even inside the terminal, signs are written in hieroglyphics that only narrow your knowledge of where you are to somewhere outside a major city on one specific continent.

Herded toward customs you are funneled through stalls manned by personnel donning oversized Gestapo uniforms, demanding in broken English, to see the documents they will use to determine your eligibility for admission. They regard you with suspicion and begrudgingly award you the official stamp of approval, allowing you to proceed deeper inside their country.

Back outside, even at night, you wish to discard a layer of clothing for the heat that begins to suggest your latitude. A 40 minute bus ride into the city, over a bumpy road, in the company of a dysfunctional air conditioner better skilled at moaning than cooling, causes you to question your itinerary. But you’ll have to wait until morning to get the real flavor of the place.

And then morning comes. You wake to the sounds of music filtering in off the street. Not just the syncopated rhythms captured and modulated from disc through loud speakers, but the wild sounds of the street. Horns incessantly blaring to warn listless commuters to get out of the way, there are things to be done that day. Sing song voices in a foreign language chanting phrases that you can strangely understand to say, "Wake up my friend, come out and join us." A weak wind rustling the leaves of the palms promising that it won’t be able to keep you cool for long, that the sun is moving up and it’s going to be a hot one today. The sound of the ocean crashing over the barrier wall and onto the street beckoning you with a suggestion that what the wind can’t do it will, so get up.

You roll out of bed yielding to the call of the sounds and the pull of the light. You open the window to a market place of people, a world of colors, and an ocean of aromas. They all foretell new and exciting adventures, an excursion that could not be had from any place else in the world.

© Richard Turner Nov 2005

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