If anyone deserves an equatorial break from winter, it is us, the North-of-60ers.
Other than those living above treeline, we have been darker and colder for longer than any other Canadians. And, justifying a warm break is not hard, if one is fortunate enough to have the opportunity.
So when the tropical portal presented itself, I didn’t even look in the rearview at the iced-up landscape; full speed ahead to tropical paradise.
Unfortunately, all tropical vacations start and end with air travel, and the inevitable waiting-to-rush and rushing-to-wait processes that are required.
The current terror-in-the-sky climate only exacerbates the tension, with all the added paranoia, security and fear-stench when one enters an airport.
Humans become cattle once you enter the security coral, and even the most suave, worldly Mr. Cool is transformed into a nervous and confused potential terrorist or drug smuggler.
They lose all sense of direction and reasoning, and get shuffled from terminal to terminal, line to line, checkpoint to checkpoint, prodded by stern-faced robo-security that make the RCMP looks like the self-serve gas station attendant working a double shift.
“Go here. Why are you here? One at a time. Next. Back please. Not that line, this line. Do you have this? You can’t have that. Where are you going? Where are you from? How long. Take this off. No not that.”
I swear, if security told travellers to fart in their hand and smell it, 99 per cent would obey.
And once you get through, the fun has only begun. Like some kind of sick human behavioural experiment, they jam a hundred people, elbow to elbow, in a flying capsule, which sometimes plummets to the earth.
This is the true reason they don’t serve metal cutlery, not to disarm terrorists, but to stop us from killing each other. The two babies wailing in the back, the seat reclinerer in front, the loud breather beside, the crazy non-stop talker beside him, and the way-too happy-go-lucky flight attendant is enough to make anyone consider going Greyhound on the persons next to them.
Luckily, a hot sandy beach is waiting on the other end, so one must endure.
At least the people watching is largely unmatched in a large airport. They really are the buffet of the world, samples from all across the globe can be observed shuffling through. For instance, I was able to catch up on my reality TV in the LAX airport, without watching TV.
Flying back is only worse. The fiesta is over and you’re immediately thrust from your care-free, friendly, non-confrontational Mexicans, to an angry crowd of uptight, rat-race, get-out-of-my-way North Americans.
Hmmm, it is obviously true: money can’t buy happiness.
Back to the rush-wait-wait-rush game, to watch the iPeople on their iPhones texting their grandmother a happy birthday greeting and Internet shopping for retro T-shirts.
Something is missing here.
It’s all over. While waiting for my bags in the Whitehorse terminal, a bearded man in a torn flannel jacket drinks a one-dollar coffee and says nothing, just a nod and friendly smile.
Ironically and luckily, the carefree and friendly persona of our most southern, Mexican compadres can also be found in Canada, if one goes North of 60.