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domingo, 13 de março de 2011

Project Webthings Tour - episode 1: The Airport

Before we begin, just a little “disclaimer”. My intention here is to do something that will tell the stories and bla bla bla, but at the same time I do want this to be useful to someone who plan to travel someday. So, if sometimes it sound like a tutorial, don’t worry, I’m not crazy or losing myself, everything will be fine.

And now, let’s really begin.

August, 2010, Airport of Guarulhos

I always wanted to travel, to explore the world, to see what is out there in far away places, different habits, different stories and things that in theory we have never seen. Maybe it’s all because of the many years playing Zelda, or watching Discovery Channel, or seen photos in site like Flickr, maybe is because of the internet, or maybe is just because of that curiosity we all have or had someday, or it is all just that feeling of missing a place where we feel we do belong.

My trip, as I wrote here sometime ago, was not only because I wanted to travel. It was inside a bigger scheme, inside of what I do for living that is more socially acceptable and doesn’t involve tell little stories, do little drawings, or giving my little point of view about little things. To put it short, where I work there was this need of some people to go to Germany to do certain things and come back 4 months and half later. I was choose as one of those people.

Until that moment what was stopping me from travel to distant places, to say it simple, was money and specially time. Travel is not exactly cheap, even if you gonna stay in a house of someone you know, it needs some planning. We work and make money, but it’s funny how if we don’t take care, more money may mean more need of money and suddenly you may end up with 50 years old postponing your plans over and over even if you make more money. At the corporative world, in many countries, there is something called “outsourcing”, which can be great if you are a businessman with a lot of ambition and not so much care about the people who works to you, but it sucks when you are out of some labor rights like vacation or Christmas bonus and these kind of things.

I have today 24 years old, in a few days I will be 25 and I can say I have dedicated part of my life to do what people tells us to do. That old story about study hard, get in a good University, get a good job in a respectable company, be proactive and learn to live with ambiguous situations and bla bla bla. Today, in a way, I still follow with many of these definitions that people give us about “what is right to do with our life in this modern and globalized society”, but at least, is been a while already, I work with all my labor rights, including vacation.

I had plans to my first vacation, the first I would take into this world that is social acceptable (because on the other one that involves crazy projects we never have vacation). But then, there was this opportunity to travel in a special way, in a way that I wanted more. I will explain better, I think that to really know some place and the people that live there, it’s required to live some time there, time enough so you know what are the prices at the market, the TV shows, how their sense of humor works, time enough to see the seasons changing and these kind of things. I knew that even if I tried to make plans to use my entire 1 month to travel, in 30 days I would hardly get this impression that I wanted to have while going to other places. So there was my opportunity. 4 months and a half. Germany.

I was informed about the trip not so much time before it actually happen. I had to prepare everything in a rush, like buy everything, get passport, get visa and so on. And here we have our fist tip, it’s always important to check if is necessary a visa to the country you planning to visit. Usually it depends of which country you came from, which country you wanna go and how much time you plan to stay. In my case I needed a special visa, but I will talk about that in a future post.

So, now we are at airport. Yeah, we, you and me, imagine you are there. All that people, all that things happening around. It’s finally the great day. I hope you were smarter than me and didn’t let to finish your packing at the last day. At the airpot the first thing to do is called check-in, and that is a nice word that actually don’t say what you have to do (right? do I check what?). To say it simple, check-in means you have to go to the counter of your air company, respective to your flight and then send your luggage. It’s important to get to the airport early. Check how much time before your flight you should do this, it changes depending of your airport, air company or destination. I could be more specific, but since this text will be stuck in time and you may be reading me from the future and everything may have changed, the best source for precise information is the website of your air company, even in the future they will have the most accurate information and if it’s not, you can sue them and make millions (yeah! \o/).

Ok, now let’s continue. If you read me for a while you know a very important information: once in a while I do stupid things. Yeah, I know. So, yes, I was late and got there just in time, but everything worked up fine, luckily. The lady from the counter asked for the number of my flying ticket, gave my a standard smile, and told me to put my bag into the “weighing treadmill”. Here, once again, my suggestion is that you do some research about the maximum weigh your bags can have and how many bags you can take, it depends of where you coming from, where you are going and the policy of the air company you are using. If everything is ok, which means you don’t have to pay any fee, she puts a label in your bags and give you a paper. Take good care of this f*cking paper. If anything goes wrong with your bag you will need it or if someone tries to get your bag, by mistake or by some dark and evil intentions, when you go get your bag back when you arrive at your destination. Yeah, there are evil people out there, the real world is not like Disney’s stories, you know?

You can take with you a hand bag as well and you should also check what are the conditions to your air company about maximum size, weigh and everything.

Ok, we have done the check-in and since I was short in time, let’s run to the boarding area, come with me. Oh, just in case you consider it, if you do everything right, you don’t need to run like a stupid person through the airport like we are doing now. There is enough time for you to take a seat, eat something and maybe mediate a bit about your life, ok?

The entrance to the boarding area is where people say goodbye. Here you just can continue if you have a ticket. I had take people to airport before and that was always the point where I had to turn back home. Not that day (ha! take that, somebody!).

The airport where I was has a wall which separates this are, so if you stay you can’t see what happen in the other side and never knew and never wanted to ask what was there just to keep the “mystery”. And this is very stupid, because we know there will be the x-ray to check you hand bags, some one to check if you are you and if you are not some kind of crazy person, terrorist, fugitive or whatever. In other words I have imagined so many things and it was only a bunch of lines to do this and that. Tsc, tsc, what a disappointment.

Here I said goodbye to my parents (yes, I was not born magically, this is not like Disney, remember?), to my sister and my nephew who was also there. My tip here is “don’t be a freak, say goodbye to the people you know you will care, in a proper way”. Really, it’s very easy. And if you have some chocolate to make people eat and not talk crazy things as if you were going to a suicide mission in a war or something, don’t think twice, chocolate them all.

Ok, since I’m not a fugitive or terrorist, we are now in a huge place with many chairs, maybe a few stores and some televisions. This is the place with access to the airplanes and in some airports you will they have special places where you should go depending of your flight. Oh and these are the chairs where people take a nap and dream about airplanes exploding and people dying, just like that movie, you know?

Now that we are here, is important to pay attention to the voice that announces when it is time to board. When the time is right, the door will open (of course) and they will call by the type of your ticket (economic, executive and so on) and by the number of your chair into the airplane. So relax, wait for your time, everything will be fine. I think is important to give special attention to the voice of the announcements, they are made in many languages and the person who does it will probably be tired, so the voice will hardly sound loud, clear and full of joy.

Here I should say that I was not completely alone. Like I said this was a trip for work and I was one of the people that would be going, so there was another guy with me. We waited. We talked for something like 5 minutes with a guy that was going the get the same flight as a connection to China. To be honest I don’t remember what we spoke, the only thing I remember is that this guy definitely had written on his face something like “I enjoy to get drunk”, you know what I mean?

It didn’t take long, they called my flight, my class and my chair. Then, ladies and gentleman, finally, I got inside the airplane.

End of episode 1.