No matter how often you travel there’s always a slight apprehension the moment you step out of the airport. You leave the sleek confines of the transit metropolis and find yourself suddenly alone and unsure of yourself, embarrassed by your western clothes and betrayed by your lost expression.
Likelihood Is you’ve just walked into an ambush. The moment you walk out into the sweltering heart you’re surrounded; Ragged taxi driver claw for your attention, they shout, lunge for your bags, wave placards in your face, each hoping that eventually you will give in and let yourself be bundled into a backseat, just to escape the others. But that’s not an option for you, seasoned traveler. You make a sharp turn towards the bus booth and pray the next bus is soon.
Finally, you arrive in the city. Slight panic. You don’t know where you are and no one speaks English. The bureau de change only gave you million dollar notes so you’re stuck trying to get into the 5c toilets. After trying unsuccessfully to garner the pity of the toilet staff you leave, defeated.
Until you see it, a great yellow beacon of hope, a universal symbol of home. MacDonald’s. Embarrassed to be passing all the authentic and family run restaurants you apologize under your breath, urging the nameless restaurateurs to understand you’re predicament of homesickness, needing to pee and not being able to explain either if these in Spanish.
Once inside you start to relax a little, you’re not a failure for running away from the empanada man, you’re just a human. And so it appears, is every other white tourist in the country. Shadowy figures, sipping cola in dark, greasy corners. Biding time until they feel brave enough to continue on their journey.