I thank the captain and flight attendant standing at their posts, watching visitors walk off the plane. I step onto the ramp, and the sticky air hits my skin like a blow to the face. Walking quickly through the dimly lit corridor, I file onto the escalator heading down.
I overhear the two guys in front of me speaking in a Spanish laced with my favorite accent – Paisa. I can’t resist inviting myself into the conversation. We chat about life in Colombia and the difference between there and here as we inch through immigration. I watch as my worlds collide, a seamless transition between the two countries thanks to my new friends.
Past the first immigration hurdle, I take in the advertisements displayed on the walls – one for a local cell phone company, another featuring a smiling rasta.
The next stop is the duty-free shop where I pick up some tax-free goods for my uncle. I bump into the Colombians again, and the rapid change between English and Spanish confuses me as I thank the cashier with a gracias. They laugh.
I take advantage of the luggage carts (free in Trinidad) parked down the hall and make my way to the carousel, which has already been unloaded – we’re the only flight that’s come in.
Next are the red light, green light lines. Green if you have nothing to declare, red if you do. I heave my bags onto the conveyor belt and watch the immigration woman’s face as she examines the x-rays carefully. She points to my violin. “What instrument is that?” she asks. “Are you in a quartet?” I smile and tell her I’m just trying to revive an old skill. She lets me through without trouble.
Next I hit the sliding glass doors, where families are waiting expectantly for their loved ones. My ride hasn’t arrived yet. I lug my stuff off the trolley and deny offers from the taxi drivers lingering around.
My next stop inside the terminal is Bmobile, a local cell phone provider, to put credit on my phone. I hand the unsmiling attendant two SIM cards and confess I have no idea which one is for Trinidad. He picks one from my opened hand and sticks it into my phone. He leads me outside to show me how to use the automatic machine. I stick 20 TT (about 3 USD) into the slot and receive my confirmation.
I call my ride and am instructed to wait in front of Subway, just outside of the gate. I throw my stuff down once again and sit on my backpack. I watch the buzz of activity and reflect on my past visits.
I think about my growing family, the friends I have made, and the boys I have met.
I fantasize about stuffing myself with doubles and roti. I imagine myself wining with my sister in the club to the latest Trini soca. I see myself lying on Maracas Beach, tanning and watching the palms sway in the ocean breeze.
I think about the promise that this new chapter of life holds.
It’s good to be back.