The plane swoops through the clouds, which separate the pale blue of daybreak from whatever lays beneath, just waking. When we finally get a peek, we see volcanoes sitting heavy atop the land, over the lips of tectonic plates. And then the staccato of buildings rising up competes for attention. Blocks, and webs of streets, and the pulsing of cars, busses, and bodies.
Once we step off the plane, we are surrounded by new smells. A new language tickles the canals of our ears. As we weave out of the airport in someone else’s car, a familiar sight accosts our eyes. And another, and another. American fast food companies populate the city almost as much as the chicken busses. Another American contribution made.
My brain twitches at this incongruity. We get to Antigua; the streets are cobblestoned and the buildings are faded, streaked and peeling colors of rust, mustard, lilac, mold and forget me nots. And yet there’s a sandwich shop, a pizza place, and a fast food burger joint, which I can see everyday in my normal life, here in this place that’s supposed to be different.
This place is not home, but it looks familiar in the most mundane ways. We’ve come here to be someplace different. And it is; it’s not home but the sameness is surprising and, for it’s presence, overwhelming.