Leaving on a jet plane

Over Costa Rica

We arrived in Portland late Sunday, and three loads of laundry later it feels as though our ten weeks in Manuel Antonio never happened. Only the photographs make it real, and already we are caught in the ongoing busyness of life in Norteamericana.

It is quiet here compared to our little MA apartment. There are chickens but no roosters and traffic on this street is almost nil. Neighbors are not hollering at neighbors, trucks and motorbikes are not bouncing across a speed bump, and no one is plucking a chicken in the back yard. There is a fat cat here, but no monkeys.

The problem with traveling is that you have to go home, a difficult prospect for confirmed travelers even when the travel has been less than exciting. Coming home is hard. All this damn mail to deal with—and thank goodness Ray doesn't seem to mind. All these people to contact, all these errands that need to be run. All this laundry and unpacking and sorting and putting. Give me a plane or a bus or a train or a camel to anywhere, and take me away from all these musts and shoulds.

Maybe what I'm feeling is just a simple case of culture shock. Air travel is entirely too fast and the in-air experience, once romantic and exciting, is now a miserable timelessness that extends into a horrible infinity, with breaks for peanuts and soft drinks. Destinations, whether home or an exotic port, should be approached slowly—preferably on foot—so that one can observe and absorb the gradations of the landscape and the subtly shifting cultural patterns. One should ease into a place, not be dropped into it with cold, high tech abandon.

Next time I'm taking a slow freighter. Or maybe I just need a good night's sleep.