Sitting at LAX waiting to board my flight to Taipei. Things worked out in such a way that I am returning to the place where I was born, sola, without work scheduled, and without much of an itinerary. Asi es la vida…
The strangest thing – the last time I was here at this airport, I was returning from Mexico City. My arrival home to LAX and subsequent passage through customs were, thankfully, uneventful until I was just about to exit the baggage claim. The officer looked at me, looked at my documents, asked me the typical, mundane, albeit presumably necessary inquiries, and just because he wanted to, he sent me to get my baggage fully inspected. I was annoyed and haughty with frequent traveler entitlement — “seriously?!” was the expression on my face. Then I proceeded to the poorly sectioned off area where weary travelers collect to have their privacy invaded in the name of protecting this country from dangerous people like myself. But fine, I’ll go.
There was no line. I handed my papers over to yet another man in uniform. He looked at my forms, then asked me “why did they send you over here?” I replied, “thank youuu, that’s what I’m sayin’”. He chuckles and says, “fine let me just check your backpack.” I had two suitcases with me.
The gentleman asked whether I was Taiwanese. I replied yes, sort of… I was born there but had not lived there. He made some comment about Taiwanese and Korean women. This commenced a conversation where the officer, an African-American (I presumed) male, shared with me his love for Taiwan. He related that he makes annual trips in October, apparently the best time to travel to Taiwan.
He asked what I was doing in Mexico. I told him, and he asked when I last visited Taiwan. I told him. With exasperation, he urged me to return to my “home”. He excitedly ran down a list of a dozen places and things I must do upon my return to the place where I was born. This man was convinced of something I had no confidence would ever happen. Not anytime soon, at least. He said several more times “you got to go home girl…” Saying good-bye, he left me with these words “the next time I see you here, I want to see a Taiwanese stamp on this” handing me back my passport. I timidly replied “okay” and bid him farewell.
This man had spent time in the military service many years ago in Taiwan and felt very connected to the country, culture, and people – so much so that he returns annually to a country where, if I remember correctly, is still quite shy about engaging with black people. He had such positive things to say and I remembered feeling a tinge of envy that I had no idea about the things he shared. It was an unexpected end to my Mexico trip, but a welcomed one.
Not even two full months later, I am on my way to Taiwan. How did this happen? More later.
Vamos a ver… or I guess I should say 我們來看看吧!