The Heap Presents: The Top 10 Ways to Know You Are On a Flight To/From Latin America

I have just returned from my lovely across the state trek to the Orlando airport to pick up my grandfather who was flying in from Puerto Rico. This list came to mind when we first dropped him off a few days ago, when we had to check him in and watch him ride off into the security line on his wheelchair. It has been a long time since I have gone to PR myself, and I have not been able to adequately enjoy these traits of Latin flights. So, here it is, the top 10 clues that you are on a flight from a Latin country.

https://i1.wp.com/images.intomobile.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/08/parking-lot-accident-2.jpg

10. The parking lot is full at “off-peak” hours. This also includes making the “Arrivals” waiting/pick up area a parking lot. We all know we don’t follow directions to well- especially if it has to do with driving. Most flights going to or coming from destinations of Latin nature are either very, very early, or very, very late. So if you are wondering why the airport is full at that time, it’s because a caravan of people came to see off / pick up a loved one. This is explained in great detail at #2.

https://i2.wp.com/www.citynews.ca/images/2006-12/dec2206-airport2.jpg

9. There are no formal lines, just hoards of people waiting to be called on. If you arrive at the counter/ security area and all you see is a disorganized mob, chances are you are going to/leaving a Latin destination. We are practical people. Lines limit space. The Heap’s advice is to keep pressing forward and shuffle your feet. Don’t be alarmed if you bump into someone or you are bumped into. This is part of the process.

https://i0.wp.com/www.talk-spanish.net/face-spanish.gif

8. All you hear is Spanish. Duh. What use is English? Chances are even the employees are going to be native speakers and will have just basic English skills. Plus, we like to speak Spanish in English speaking places, because we can!

https://i0.wp.com/calisto.slv.vic.gov.au/latrobejournal/issue/latrobe-69/large/latrobe-69-061a.jpg

7. People are either overdressed or under dressed. This is quite noticeable. Most people of Latin decent tend to overdress for flights, treating it as some semi formal occasion. The amount of preparation that goes into traveling day is unprecedented. So if you notice people heading back to their country, there’s a good chance they will be dressed nicely. Then of course you have the other extreme, which include (but not limited to): sleeveless T-shirts, Underarmor, ridiculously thuggish clothes, curve accentuating tops and bottoms, lots of bling

https://i2.wp.com/pro.corbis.com/images/294-T-010-E2278.jpg

6. You see card board boxes being checked or retrieved from baggage claim. I feel that this is perhaps the second most telling clue that you are flying to/from Latin America. It is a familial duty to bring back all sorts of goodies from the Motherland. And since we love to over pack our suitcases, there is no room to bring them back, though some of the more advanced/considerate travelers set aside a suitcase specific to this purpose. Goods in the boxes include (but again, not limited to): Native pastries, native plants, gifts, something that has to be frozen/refrigerated, fresh cuts of meat/fish, livestock. (Honorable Mention: Pretty much every suitcase is over the allotted weight limit!)

https://i1.wp.com/farm1.static.flickr.com/159/436531244_648a77a7eb.jpg

5. Greenery and exotic fruits are carried on. The subconscious planter in the depths of the Latin “id” comes to life when one returns to the Motherland. Thus, plants and fruits not available back home MUST be brought back home in order to attempt to grow them in your back yard, or to give them as gifts to someone who can. I can hear it now: “Please be careful when opening overhead compartments because bags and plant stems may have shifted.”

https://i2.wp.com/farm1.static.flickr.com/57/197914478_4ff0df8f4b.jpg

4. It is really, really loud. Oh, you can’t escape it. In the aforementioned “line” people will be babbling in what may seem to the English speaker as tongues. Think your red-eye flight will be a nice time to catch some Z’s while the plane crosses the Caribbean? Guess again. There is a strong possibility that people will talk LOUDLY. If you are lucky enough to have your fellow passengers calm it down, then there will most certainly be a crying infant. And if you manage to avoid that, then there will be loud, obnoxious snoring from somewhere. Latin men and women are sound sleepers and loud snorers. Investment in Bose headphones is a must.

https://i0.wp.com/manolomen.com/images/Mr%20T%20with%20gold%20plate.jpg

3. Your flight is running late. Due to weather? Probably not. Forecast calls for clear skies and a strong contingent of stragglers. Possible reasons: Diaper changes and rounding up the family, having a three course meal, buying stuff at the duty free shop, leaving the house just 15 minutes before (and then packing), drinking at the bar, having to recover from the security strip search because of not following directions and/or putting back on all that bling. And lastly, if your pilots are Latin, they will be fashionably late too.

http://cccvoice.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/parranda_trolley.jpg

2. The whole family is there to pick people up. Back before life was heavily Americanized, thus increasing the amount people fly for vacations, business, or for no reason at all, there was a time where traveling was almost a ritualistic rite of passage (which explains the need to dress up). The entire family comes to welcome back the loved one, and if you’re lucky, there might be a band of tribal drums there! (True Story: At TIA, Airside F is where the American Airlines San Juan flight comes in. Coincidently, it’s the only airside that has a roped off section with signs that tell the waiting parties to stay behind the barrier…)

1. Passengers clap and cheer when the plane lands. This is the most distinguished clue that you are on a Latin flight. As the plane makes its final approach, one can feel a unique tension build. This might be the only time that you experience quiet. The runway comes into view, the rear wheels touch, the front wheel touches, and a nice deceleration ensues. And then, at the first moment of assured safety, applause emerges from the silence, even some cheers and songs. Try this on your next flight on the US mainland. It doesn’t work quite as well…

So there you have it. Make sure to be looking for this the next time you fly! And feel free to leave comments with your favorite traits!

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

Advertisements

Japanese and American Baseball: Part 3

https://i0.wp.com/redbirdchatter.mlblogs.com/assets_c/2009/01/150px-world_baseball_classic_logo_with_out_text1-thumb-149x150.png

The continuance of my essay on how Japanese and American culture plays itself out through the sport of baseball.

By the 1890s baseball had become one of the most popular collegiate sports in Japan despite the constant exclusion from the game the Japanese often faced by Americans. Through the victories of Ichikō in Tokyo, the dominant team of the decade in collegiate baseball, the Japanese were able to instill a sense of legitimacy to the sport in the nation, as well as demonstrate to the Americans that it had an adroit grasp on the game. The cultural separation between the members of the Yokohama Sporting Club, an organization which only allowed American baseball players, and the Japanese continued to exist throughout the decade. Roden points out that at this point, it was clear that “Americans in Yokohama played baseball to be more American, Japanese students, especially in the higher schools, turned to baseball in an effort to reify traditional values and to establish a new basis for national pride” (520). The rationale behind such a zealous effort to want to beat the Americans at their own game must have stemmed from the global success and unity the United States emblematized. If the lowly Japanese were able to beat them, perhaps a similar position of global acknowledgment awaited Japan. Ichikō dominated the national scene for years, and in October 1891, they formally challenged the Yokohama Athletic Club to an international match, or kokusai shiai, and were continually turned down for five years (Roden, 521). Claims such as “Baseball is our national game” and “Our bodies are twice the size as yours” only fueled the “little Japanese” students and resulted in the strong, persisting desire to play the international match. The importance of the match was so paramount, that Roden comments that “a simple game of baseball therefore began to assume the dimensions of a righteous struggle for national honor” (521). Finally, the two sides played on May 23, 1896, at the home field of the Yokohama Athletic Club, being the first official baseball game between American and Japanese teams (Roden, 522). As fate would have it, Ichikō would win the game 29-4, utterly humiliating the members of the club. Due to the presence of the Japanese media, the players became national heroes (Roden, 524). The two sides would play in a series of rematches, with the Yokohama Sporting Club calling upon reinforcements from stationed navy ships. The club finally managed to narrowly win a game on July 4th 14-12. Perhaps baseball would always be the “American Pastime.” But as Roden points out, “by overwhelming the Americans in their ‘national game,’ the students aroused considerable ferment and pride in the 1890s that extended down to the lowliest denizens of the treaty ports” (533). National pride was finally achieved, and as a result, baseball continues to be an integral part of the culture.

The series between Yokohama and Ichikō may have proved that the inhabitants of the two countries may have had the same ability to play the game, but how each culture is represented through the figure of the ballplayer is drastically different. Gelber captures the essence of the portrayal of baseball in the United States, by writing that “baseball was not merely a ‘mirror of American life,’ it was an integral part of the cultural matrix of modern business society. Baseball expressed and reinforced urban life, business organization, and the values that underlay them” (3). It is clear that Gelber argues that the characteristic aggression of American capitalism and the propaganda-like reiteration of the urban American dream permeate into the sports world to serve as an ample representation of the sport of baseball as a whole. Gelber’s research shows that the businesslike characteristics of American baseball are far from coincidental. He suggests that “the bulk of modern social science data supports the congruent theory, and the congruence between baseball and business explains the rise of the game during the economic expansion of the nineteenth century” (4). Thus, interest in the sport grew hand in hand as entrepreneurs attempted to make and collect their own interest in aggressive speculation. Arguments have been made for the game being a prime example of rural life, which would contrast with the urban vision of a game played predominately by city slickers. Scholars point to “pastoral” elements of the game such as the natural presence of the sun, grass and wind, and also the timelessness of the game, and seasonality symbolized by the four bases (Gelber, 6). Yet, critics who wish to dispel this rural interpretation immediately point toward the West in the United States as conquerable rural land which could be urbanized. Gelber even writes that baseball “established an artificial rural environment” (6). Thus, the baseball player was a symbol of urban potential energy- only being contained for a short amount of time. He was a symbol of expansionist power, and in many ways, these ideals still are stressed in the American game today, as entertainment value is sought, rather than just the win. Offense trumps good fundamental play every time in the American version. The individual has the power to win or lose the game, and it is the individual who is traditionally extolled in American society.