Sunday, November 16, 2008

Part Two

I forgot to mention a small highlight from my ABQ to SFO flight this morning.

Depending on the weather, we often fly over the Grand Canyon on this route and today I had the good fortune of sitting on the side of the plane with the best view. From the air, it is always spectacular, but today was an exceptional case. The sun was just breaking over the horizon behind us, and its earliest rays were barely touching the very tallest peaks and crests. Because it was still dark on the ground, the landscape was a pretty uniform caramel brown, but each of these highest points was bathed in a warm pink, which brought out the ancient banding in the rocks. The effect lasted quite a while as we were flying away from the sun and so delaying the inevitable illumination of the whole canyon. More and more of these high spots received the light and as we passed by, the view was of hundreds of bright dots and dashes cascading off to the northern curve of the Earth.

We left San Francisco on time, but with the sad note of me being denied a seat in business. This is only the second time I have been turned down, and it was certainly due to the fullness of the plane. I wonder if Saturday is a popular day to fly to Seoul as it allows people to be there for work on Monday. In any event, I had a seat on the window side of the plane which means that there are only two of us in the row. Much nicer when it comes to the inevitable interruptions for bathroom breaks and leg stretches. Things have a way of changing though and once underway, my row-mate and I discovered that the audio was not working for the movies. Not a big deal for me, as I come prepared with hours and hours of television shows loaded on my iTouch. For him though it was a 13 hour deal breaker and he gladly left my company to move to a seat with functioning entertainment. A small consolation for my business class snub, I now had the whole row and I was thus able to spend the better part of the flight stretched out and asleep. Only one minor complaint here about the lone joker who insists on keeping his window shade up during the entire flight. There is always at least one, which is surprising as it so obviously violates the unwritten pact among travelers crossing the Pacific by day – once aloft, the shades go down. But this guy insisted on using the light to read by, and by luck of the draw he happened to be directly across the plane from me. I dozed in the brightness for a while until I decided to just sit there and stare at him for a bit. He actually got the message, stared back and then pulled his blind down.

Arrival was on time and I was in the terminal, across the wet disinfectant mats and into security in a very short time. I was the only person doing a transfer, and the young women running the inspection were glad for the work. At least it seemed that way as they all stood there laughing at the artificial manila envelope I use for my Mac. I went through there quickly and off to the transfer desk where the agent checked my name off the list, a little travel tidbit I always find amazing – a printout with the name of the dozen or so travelers doing an international transfer in this airport.

As I sit here now, a young woman official of some sort is standing at the end of the moving floor loudly making some sort of announcement about who knows what. What’s interesting is that she sounds precisely like the young woman who makes the announcements in the Ley grocery store in Guaymas, Mexico. Those of you who have heard it know exactly what I am talking about – a repetitive sing-song that appears to only consist of vowels. I’ve never been able to translate it there, and I’m certainly not going to have any luck here, but there it is – another example of cultures developing in parallel.

No comments: