“Excuse me, do you speak English?”
I looked up from my book to see an older gentleman and his wife looking bewildered in the milling crowd around the security checkpoint. I closed my book with my finger marking the page and got up. “Can I help?” The relief flooded his face. He turned to his wife, “See honey, I told you we would find someone.” He turned to me, “We don’t know where to go.”
After I checked the monitor for their flight and pointed them in the right direction, I sat back down to read. I still had an hour for my flight.
“Excuse me.” I looked up again and over at the woman sitting next to me. “Have they started boarding this flight?” I looked around. “No, that was a flight to Paris.” She smiled, “Oh, I thought they called us. Will you let us know when to go?” “Of course.”
A woman leaned around the man sitting next to me, “Do you travel a lot?” I smiled and nodded. “I do.” She leaned back, “I thought so, you are so confident.”
I looked around, perplexed. How did I become info central? The other people waiting were nervously jiggling their feet, glued to their chairs, clutching their bags, checking and re-checking their tickets, or getting up and down at every announcement. While it was a little more chaotic than any US airport I have been in, it was not frightening or unusual.
Once through immigration and security the airport in Rio was not difficult to manage. The waiting area at the gates was small but with all available seats taken; many people were standing around. It looked more confusing than it was. The announcements for boarding and gate changes came and went in Portuguese. Then with a few minutes delay were repeated in English.
Airports around the world are basically the same. Most of them have signs in English as well as the local language. Once you have negotiated a few, it becomes easier. The departure and arrival procedures are similar. All baggage claim areas and ground transportation are on a lower level.
Taxis will try to rip you off no matter where you are. Take a deep breath. It’s OK.
Traveling alone has good points and bad points, but do not stay at home because you have no one with whom to travel. I have met wonderful people traveling around the world, many of whom I would not have if I had had a companion.