Even though airline food is made for a small eater, in a miniature container with small utensils,it is appreciated.

The passenger seated next to me feels like talking as he eats, listening costs me nothing, and, at 30,000 feet up,I’m not going anywhere except where this plane goes.

One pleasure of travel is meeting other people who are travelling too. Some people travel for business and have little choice about their trips. Other people travel because they like thrills and can pick their destinations. Some lucky people manage to combine both business and thrills.

Luis confides to me, softly, as I peel back my lunch container’s cover, that he immigrated to the U.S. from Uruguay thirty years ago and became an American. He self finances his own trips to Central and South America where he takes medical supplies to small towns and country folks who don’t have access to medical care. He organizes and runs medical training sessions for leaders in little villages in remote areas so they can take care of their health crisis themselves when they inevitably happen.

Luis tells me about secret hidden villages he has consulted in Guatemala and Chili, Peru and Nicaragua – all places I haven’t been yet but probably won’t ever see because I don’t have a reason to be there.

When our plane reaches Lima and lands to pick up more travelers,he transfers planes to make his connections to San Salvador and New York. His wife doesn’t like to travel and didn’t want to come with him but she, he says, doesn’t mind him doing what he loves as long as she gets his love and attention too. Tolerant women, I believe, are a big blessing to their husbands.

On the runway waiting for passengers to leave and others to board, I close my travel book on Uruguay and open the next chapter which will soon be Costa Rica.

Why, I ask myself, in rational moments like this, still stuck in the plane’s belly, do I  sometimes consider giving up a perfectly good life in my own country to be an outsider living in someone else’s country? Is there really a country better than the one I always return to?

There are easy answers for most of my questions, but finding those answers doesn’t always come easy for me.

After talking with Luis, an easy question to ask is why do some people feel a need to give back while others just focus on taking?
















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