You’ve been planning it for months. And now it’s happening. Your last night at home.
Goodbyes. Hugs. Tears. Well-wishes. Promises to keep in touch.
Down to hours. Then minutes.
Now it’s time to leave.
Up before dawn, still dark out.
Uber drivers. Buses.
The damn airport.
Impatient, fed-up travelers. Nasty TSA agents.
Waiting in the airport lobby.
Connecting flights. The main flight.
Flight attendants are all old women or flaming gay men. You’re crammed in like a cow going to slaughter. With hundreds of strangers. In a thin metal tube, hurtling through the sky at hundreds of miles per hour.
Disgusting airline food.
Tiny bathroom. No soap or water.
Nasty seats, armrests, and headrests. Befouled by the sweat, oil, and grease of hundreds of earlier passengers. Filthy hands. Thank God for Germ-X.
An hour or two of fitful half-sleep.
Air-sickness. If you’re lucky, you didn’t vomit into your barf bag.
And suddenly you’re here.
Plunged into a new world.
An alien place.
You can’t read the signs. You barely speak the language.
Customs guards are hostile and unfriendly.
These foreigners have different ideas about rules and personal space. They have no problem cutting in line ahead of you. They’re getting too close to you. It’s shocking, until you’re used to it.
And that driver you ordered ahead of time, the one you already paid for? He doesn’t show. And you can’t call him.
Your iPhone doesn’t work. No Sim cards for sale.
You can’t call the hotel, can’t access your email.
It’s late and dark. Take a chance with a taxi. It turns out alright, he makes out the name of your hotel from your broken Spanish.
The first few days are fine. You’re in shock, walking around in a haze. The honey-moon phase.
But then, reality sets in.
Life is different in the Third World.
Your patience is stretched to the limit.
Nothing’s linear. It’s pure fucking Chaos.
No zoning laws.
Rats. Dead animals.
Marijuana smoke in the streets.
Cigarrette butts all over.
Ankle-breaking pot-holes, everywhere you walk.
No pedestrian right of way. Either you run, or you get hit.
No leash laws. Dogs shit everywhere.
Don’t bother asking for direction. No one knows where anything is. Even though they’ve literally lived here their entire life.
Nothing works right. Even in the nice neighborhoods.
Sinks break, water shuts off. Stoves don’t light. Toilets leak or don’t flush. Coffee makers are so old you can’t figure out how to use them.
Sure, food and services are cheap. But they’re mostly low-quality.
Uber drivers ghost on you. Then you get charged, anyway.
And the drivers who do show?
They don’t know where the hell they’re going. And they’ll drive around indefinitely, instead of admitting it.
Taxis will take the long way, just to squeeze a few bucks out of you.
People never keep appointments.
Locals hate you for not speaking their language.
You’re constantly overcharged. The gringo tax is real.
Your cell phone still doesn’t work, even after multiple visits to the carrier.
And the noise.
Ah, the noise…
Gunshots. Fireworks. Dogs barking.
Babies screaming. Kids yelling.
The ice-cream man ringing bells.
Sirens. Car-horns. Motorcycles.
Boom-boxes. Music pumping from homes, cars, and garbage trucks.
Never-ending construction. Saws. Jack-hammers. Dump trucks.
Metro trains, airplanes, and helicopters.
TV’s turned up to max volume, for hours. Neighbors who seem to compete to see who can be loudest.
And so on…
But in the end?
You don’t regret coming here.
Because you fall in love with the Chaos.
Somehow, it all seems to work down here. Things DO get done, eventually.
Life goes on, and people do just fine.
And you’ve got two choices now, if you’re gonna make this place your home.
Be patient. Real patient. Down to your core. Like a Saint.
It’s the only way. Otherwise, you’ll go insane.
And then eventually, nothing really bothers you.
You breath and yield.
Laugh and smile.
Instead of fighting.
Relax into the slow, messy pace of your new life.
Soon you’re part of it.
A small note in the rhythm of the Third World.
And there’s no where else you’d rather be.
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