Traveling with my parents can be a pretty interesting experience. At this stage of my life, I have done plenty of traveling alone and plenty of traveling with my folks, and I think it is safe to say that traveling with my folks is way more interesting. Today is a good case in point, so let us look at our travels today and seek to uncover what makes traveling with my folks more interesting than traveling by myself. At the outset, before I describe the day, I think it would be worth pointing out that I do not think of myself as a particularly exciting person by myself, but around other people I can keep myself entertained and also entertain plenty of other people as well, so that has at least something to do with it.
Anyway, while I was relaxing in downtown Paramaribo, my folks took a short trip to Grenada. They spent the night in the Paramaribo airport in the gate area, and I met them at 5:30AM this morning after getting through security myself. About an hour later, after I had done a bit of writing , we ended up spending some time with two of the elders and their families and entourages that were returning to the United States while we still had some more traveling to do. They seemed a bit perturbed that I was traveling with them with my stepfather being in a wheelchair and receiving a great deal of assistance, for although I frequently walk with my wandelstok , and that is at least some aspect of what makes traveling with my folks so interesting, and that is our mutual physical limitations. I am the most able bodied and frequently the most alert of the lot, and that was certainly the case today when all of us were a bit sleep deprived and not at our best when it came to reflexes.
Our flight out of Paramaribo was uneventful, for the most part. We all napped a bit in the plane, and got some drinks and snacks  because it was Suriname Airlines, even if the trip to Port of Spain and then Curaçao was not a very long one. It was, in retrospect, a very good thing that I filled out the immigration form for Curaçao because my folks had never even seen the form and the person at the immigration booth generously used my own information for my folks. Later on, when we were leaving Curaçao, thankfully with all of our luggage intact, which nearly didn’t happen because my stepfather lost place of one of the suitcases he was responsible for, my mom nearly lost the Curaçao immigration forms again, which we needed on the way out to show that we were doing what we were supposed to have done. I have to say that I was intrigued by the general corruption of Curaçao and the mixed messages the place sends. On the one hand, it is a constituent kingdom of the Netherlands, but on the other hand everything is either in English or Spanish rather than Dutch as far as instructions and labels go. On the one hand, the airport continually markets cigarettes by pointing to everything changing and following one’s desires, while simultaneously reminding the would-be customer that tobacco products are hazardous, deadly, and addictive. Following your desires can kill you, something that is probably true of most people and is definitely true of me.
By the time we were on our way to Bogota, Colombia, it was evening and there were a lot of children on our flight. My folks sat next to each other near the boundary between economy and business class while I was the gimpiest person in the Emergency Row, which was mildly entertaining. During the relatively short flight of less than two hours, I managed to listen to a lot of what the airline advertised as today’s pop, rock, and techno songs, none of which was newer than the early 1990’s. (As an aside, Bad English’s “When I See You Smile” and Tears For Fears’ “Sowing The Seeds Of Love” were the most recent songs, and one of the songs, Foreigner’s “Waiting For A Girl Like You” is older than I am.) I also managed to watch an entire concert by Imagine Dragons, which was an enjoyable one, during the time their first album had been released, where they sang their early hits as well as some choice album cuts. Imagine Dragons looks like a group that would be very enjoyable to see live, which is all the more remarkable since so many people hate them so much.
Eventually we got to Bogota, and I can say that the city does not cater to monolingual American tourists. As enjoyable as it was to get quickly through lines and onto planes by virtue of traveling with someone who needs assistance, it was here where all of this became much easier for others to appreciate, given the fact that I had to do a lot of translating, with customs, with the woman who was pushing my stepfather’s wheelchair, with the people at the taxi service who managed to get us to our somewhat obscure hotel, and with the hotel staff who generously checked us in even though we arrived somewhat late in the evening. My skills at understanding and speaking in Spanish and conveying matters between my family and the various people we were around was definitely taxed and is likely to be taxed further over the next couple of days before we return at last to the United States. You can call such experiences what you will, but you will have to agree that they are at least interesting.
Those near-losses were actually wins–we retrieved the luggage and found the forms in the end. I had put the forms in a place within my purse where they wouldn’t get lost and then forgot where I had put them (talk about sleep deprivation!) Whew… That time at the Curacao airport was quite an experience. I was praying and then thanking God the entire time.
Indeed :D. That sort of travel can be a really stressful experience. I was pretty sleep-deprived by the time I got home from Colombia myself, since it was about 4AM when I finally got in.