Ruth's Diary


I'm now in Bolivia, I'll be volunteering tomorrow. When thinking about what to write in this entry, the most obvious thing to talk about would be the flights I took when getting over here. They were long. But then I realised that rather than talking painstakingly about the route taken, the waiting at the various airports, the annoyingly limited entertainment system, the agony of making it through the US border guards, coping with little sleep and time zone changes, it would be much more entertaining for y'all if I talked about the funny and interesting bits.

Starting with the US border guards: they were friendly this time around! The one I got sent to was a guy who was clearly a people person, he was polite and found my answers interesting and positive. It was only upon walking away with my passport stamped and smiling I realised that he wasn't asking me certain questions for conversational purposes, he was actually relaxing me to assess the truthfulness of my answers and to assign me the correct position. ... Well it's not like it doesn't work.

I had to stop myself laughing at Raleigh/Durham airport (same one where I met the nice border guard) when a young black boy asked me if I was Australian. His reasoning was that I talked like an Aussie friend of his. Don't blame him, the South London accent is clearly the Aussie (accents') ancestor.

Now being one to enjoy travel I don't normally complain about travel conditions or other aspects, but if there's one thing that truly annoys me about airports, it's that they charge you for internet access. Seriously, why?!?! In Lima Airport in Peru I found a free service, but the bandwidth was good for little else than emailing and watching e-cards. (Guess what day it was yesterday? I completely ignored it.)

The longest flight was between Heathrow and Raleigh/Durham. American Airlines' idea of in-flight entertainment consists of everyone watching screens hanging in the aisle and watching the pre-programmed entertainment, of movies and TV shows. Luckily I didn't need it. For much of the 8 hours I was chatting to the friendly American next to me. We didn't tell each other our names, simply because travel etiquette states that when sitting next to and conversing with a person while on the move, you need to recognise that you won't ever see each other ever again. So with that understanding we talked about families, relationships, jobs, cultures, political theory, history, social philosophy, religious backgrounds, languages and even had a heated debate over the allowance of gay marriages. Don't worry, the last topic didn't sour anything, we just had different beliefs based on differing experiences.

Since American Airlines offers in-flight entertainment on every flight, it was on the way to Miami that I watched an episode of The Office US for the first time. I could see what everyone generally says about it, it's totally different from its UK original. The reason is that the 2 populations have a completely different idea of what makes a clever comedy. In the UK, it's taking well known character-models of everyday people we would recognise and following them through the highs and lows of life. In the US, it's taking exaggerated eccentrics and putting them together in order to comment on real life and pop culture. Also the landing at Miami International was the roughest I've ever experienced.

The last interesting tidbit would be the lady at Miami's entrance to the security search looking at my passport and then wishing me a happy birthday (for tomorrow).

On the flight from Miami to Lima I was napping for half of it.

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