Why I Love/Hate Travelling

I decided around graduation that I would do the irresponsible thing that twenty-somethings do, and travel instead of looking for a job. To be fair, I’m only going for about a month; I’m visiting my boyfriend, and I’m in a country I’ve been to two other times now, as opposed to backpacking through Europe and staying in hostels. The latter I would probably do if I had more money saved up, but since I worked for free all semester at an internship instead of making chump change every two weeks doing surveys, this is where I am.

I bought my plane ticket the night before graduation and left ten days later; first spur of the moment trip I’ve ever taken. I love traveling, I love going to new places, I love eating new foods and seeing beautiful sights. My dream is to find a job where I can be paid to do that–but I think you actually have to be a chef or willing to eat damn near anything and shout to have a food network program, and I’m not really sure who you have to be/know to have a travel channel but given how dull some of them are I don’t see why I couldn’t do one 😛 But seriously, I really need a job that involves traveling or has good vacation time.

Anyway, as much as I love traveling, I probably equally hate it at times. The planes being one of my least favorite features–not because I’m scared of flying, but because of the security. Flight safety is no joke given all the hijacking attempts/successes over the past 15 years or so. BUT, the implementation of these “safety measures” just blows my mind. We have such stringent rules for going through security, especially in the US, to the point where we may as well just strip down naked, bend over, and cough. Take off your shoes, remove your belt, take off jewelry, take off your coat/sweater, remove your laptop, you can only bring in liquids in less than 3 oz containers but not 3 oz of liquids in a container that’s larger than 3 oz–and they need to be in a little baggy. Then once you’re done stripping, you put your hands above your head and go through the body scanner. And if the invasive body scanner isn’t enough, you still may or may not be subjected to a very aggressive and thorough pat down, especially women if you’re wearing a dress or skirt, because somehow the body scanner missed whatever was under your dress.

AND THEN, don’t be black. Why, you ask? Well I found out in the Amsterdam airport when I had to, for whatever reason, go through another security check  to switch planes (even though I never left the secure area). Did you know, that Negro hair is apparently impermeable to body scanners? I didn’t. But I found out quite aggressively when this Dutch woman shoved her hands in my freshly twisted, not quite shoulder length, hair–and shook it, as if she expected some loose change to fall out. Now imagine, you’ve just gotten off two delayed flights, one of which was over 8 hours, it’s early in the morning and cold, and then not only do you have to go through security again, and get felt up to the extent at which you question whether this is excessive, but then have someone shove their dirty hands in your hair without any warning. As I said earlier, my hair is not that long, and again, it was freshly twisted–no huge fro, no locs, no old twists that white people would probably mistake for locs, and no chunky twists that could possibly conceal something–but fresh small twists where you can still see my scalp.  Are you seriously shoving your cold hands in my hair?

Mind you, I watched the security check for the next 20 minutes as they processed everyone else getting on my flight. They didn’t stick their hands in not even one white person’s hair–long, short, curly, nothing. One woman even had a head wrap on, and they didn’t ask her to take it off. Not to mention the variation in the assertiveness with which they patted people down.

So how exactly is this supposed to keep me safe? I mean depending on what airport I’m in, what time of day it is, and who’s working I’ve accidentally gone through security with a full reusable bottle of water, have had a butter knife buried in my backpack from taking my lunch to work more than once, and have bypassed the body scanner altogether when the line was just too long. Other times I’ve had an unopened jar of peanut butter confiscated, was taken aside and had my bag searched because of earrings, and like this last time, was practically molested before getting on my flight. Sometimes they just ask and take you at your word–“do you have anything in your bag that could be potentially dangerous, or that is a prohibited item?” Hmmm. I’m not really sure you can call these measures strategic. It’s clear that airport security workers are not all trained equally, and are either overzealous to the point of being degrading, or so lackadaisical that obvious things get through the scanner.

Anyway, I suppose it’s just the foolishness that I have to endure to get to the good part of eating biltong, milk tart, malva pudding, and copious amounts of injera, and even more importantly, of seeing my boyfriend after 4 months. Plus this time I get to see Joburg and Pretoria. Thus, I suck it up and keep it moving. I have to enjoy the bliss/uncertainty of unemployment as long as I can, which is until September (worst case scenario), when my money runs out. And then Sallie Mae should be knocking on my door by November when my loan grace period ends. So let the cover letter writing begin!! or rather, continue :/