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lundi 15 février 2010

Come Snow or Long Layovers at Airports, Los Indios! here I am

A few weeks away from the Indians (native people of the Americas), I begin to feel their physical absence. Fortunately, I have a reason to go back to see them, once a month as I have been doing for more than 15 years..
At the begining of the journey, which now begins in Paris, but in other times, it was Havana or Baracoa or London or Kingston, I think of the long journey ahead, a little dispirited, but as I approach their country or reservation, all apprehension vanishes and I feel rejuvenated even before I am among them.
The journey began at 9 am, leaving home in Paris, taxi to Porte Maillot, Air France bus to CDG airport. Finding your terminal, checking in, security and then rest a little bit at the Lounge before boarding the flight. This time, because of less head wind the flight to New York was only 7 h 40 minutes and because I am pre cleared for immigration, it took less than one minute for me to go through Global Entry Kiosk, put your card in, get your finger prints checked on the reader and they print out your exit card. viola!
Long wait at EWR. Flight through the cold night to Omaha and by the time you walk out of the terminal, clad in various layers of clothes to face the minus 20 C weather, it is already midnight. Rest at a hotel nearby and then in the morning go to Avis, where they listen to me approaching, I have bells from Burma attached to my shoulderbag, and they hand over the keys to the car. Dont dare drive on the highway, they cautioned, saying there have been many accidents on that section and the highway was closed. What shall I do? The European descendant, always very pleasant to me, suggests, go and have breakfast downtown.
I call the Indians, they say to me, why dont you take the back roads to the reservations, it goes through several towns, so you can be sure that the snow sweepers would keep the roads clean. Sure enough the drive was safe and there were no snow blockages nor the heavy traffic of semi trailers and it was nice to be surrounded by the eery calm of a white landscape for the next two hours... and when I arrived at the Blue House, it was warm and welcoming. The sun was already shining, the temperature read 20 F...
35 hours to get here, but it feels good.. Since I said good bye to them on 14th of January, I have been to Paris, Kuala Lumpur and Cochin... amidst flavours and scenes unimaginable to the Indians, but they dont long for that, they would tell me about the snow that had fallen, the get togethers on warm evenings, and stories of their children.. Their stories would always have an element of nature interwoven.. A grown up woman said, when I was a child, I lived in the country and now I look at my daughter and what she is surrounded with, and how much more I can learn from her... It is a philosophy of humility. While Americans complain how bitter the weather has been, the first Indian i spoke to this morning, said to me, we used to have winters like this, and good to have cold winters for the earth to renew itself...