Archive for the ‘Bitter Rage’ Category

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Jena 6:: So Ya’ll Niggas Thought We Were Free Huh?… silly rabbit, tricks are for kids

September 20, 2007
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Caracas Venezuela:: When saving $400 dollars almost gets you put in airport jail.

February 27, 2007

So on friday I set out for what I knew was going to be a sorrowful 4 flight, 4 country, 16 hour journey from Trinidad to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Let me first start off by saying that when I was buying these tickets in October I discovered an odd truth ….. it would be much easier and cheaper for me to get to BA from Kansas City, MO than from Port of Spain, Trinidad… which is located directly off the coast of Venezuela and is geographically about halfway between home and Argentina. Why do you ask? That I am still not quite certain of. Maybe there is no demand for people from Trinidad to get to South America even though they are right next to each other so airlines don´t have many routes from Trinidad to SA. Which I know can´t be entirely true because the last time I came to Carnival I came through Caracas Venezuela. At any rate, when I was buying tickets the Trinidad— BA leg was proving to be very difficult, so me and my equally creative travel agent came up with what we thought would be a trying yet workable and affordable alternative. From Trinidad I would take a 45 minute flight to Margarita Island, Venezuela where I would then take another 45 min flight to Caracas, Venezuela, where I would take a 2 hour flight to Bogota, Columbia where I would then take a 6 hour flight to BA, Argentina and voila! ……. but that would only work if everything went off without a hitch but I thought I had enough layover time in between everything in case something went wrong. Think again lady.

When I arrived in Caracas after my second flight I had 3 1/2 hours between flights. I did as my travel agent had instructed previously, collected my baggage and then looked around for the carrier of my next flight Aerolineas Argentina. Hmmmm, looking, looking…….. pacing, pacing… I saw many airlines, but no Aerolineas Argentina. So I tried asking people at various ticket counters, they all just looked at me like ¨look you non Spanish speaking freak of fucking nature there is no Aerolineas airline here and get the hell out of my country!¨, which I can´t really blame them we treat Spanish speakers no different in the US and Venezuela isn´t really our best friend right now (damn Geoge Duubuya!!) so I start to majorly sweat at this point. I have in my hand a ticket for an airline that doesn´t seem to exist. Then I saw a sign that said International somethingsomething with an arrow pointing to another building, apperantly all the international flights fly out of another building in the airport and I was in the domestic part since I flew from Margarita Island to Caracas. By now an hour has gone by……. still have plenty of time. So me and my luggage roll down the sidewalk about a half a mile to the international building. Hmmm, I see American Airlines, I see Air France, I see Continental, I see Delta Airlines…… still no Aerolineas Argentina. So I ask around and still noone seems to have a clue what the hell I´m talking about (you would think that they would speak English at Continental or American Airlines, but ummm no, not in Caracas) and it took some more hard core investigative work but I finally found the tiny tiny Aerolineas Argentina desk. Whew! With still an hour and a half to spare.

Home free? Nope not hardly. So I am checking in with the ticket guy and he gives me my boarding pass, and then writes ¨$61 USD¨ on a scrap piece of paper, rattles off something in spanish and nods me toward some man in the corner. Umm ok? So through another ticket counter person who spoke a tiny bit of English the man in the corner told me that I had to pay a departure tax of $61 US dollars. Ummm departure tax? But I am in transit…….. how could I owe a departure tax? So as I am trying to discuss this in a ass backwards psuedo Spanish way with the people atthe airline and then they write down on a piece of paper $61 USD $132 USD. Ummm did the departure tax just double in the past 20 seconds? So at this point I am trying to figure out if this is a real fee or if this is some airport bribery/take advantage of the foreigner who can´t speak the language Nigerian style type stuff. I only had an hour before my flight left and only $40 US in cash and about $10 US worth of TT (Trinidad currency) and so I decided to just go to the ATM and get out the Venezualan equivalent of $61 dollars and chalk it up as a lost so that I can make the flight. …………. Long story short, I go to 10 different ATMs in the airport, all with different banks and none of them are recognizing my debit card. O and did I mention that they couldn´t take credit cards at the airline counter? O yea thats a wonderfully fun fact. So after 30 minutes of pure frustration at the ATM I go back to the desk not sure what my next course of action will be. The best plan I could come up with would be to go to the internet cafe in the airport, look up the nearest Citibank ATM and hop in a cab and pray that it would work. But there was no time for that. ……and if at this point you are wondering why I don´t use travellers cheques… they wouldn´t have helped in this situation either because there was no where to cash them. The Friday´s in the Caracas airport wouldn´t even accept them, (nor would they swipe my credit or debit card and give me cash for it but that was a long shot anyway). So walking back to the counter the only plan I could come up with was to offer them the $40 USD that I did have and just beg, plead, and cry if necessary. My worst fear of missing this flight and then having to come out of my pocket $700 bucks was just not an option.

Well when I arrived back at the desk there were two Chliean men having the exact same problem and one of them spoke English very well. He sympathized with my stressed out face and told me to just pretend that we were all traveling together and to just stay quiet and let me do the talking. So I did. Through translation of the arguements the Chilean man (Robert) said something to me about airport jail, and then he turned to me and asked me “do you pray?” and I said yes and he replied “well I think its about time we start doing so because we are running out of options”. So I did. At a point I even tried to cry because the men seemed to get more helpful the more distressed I looked……. but I was so dehydrated that my tear ducts would not cooperate. Finally, about an hour later, after several heated discussions with the airport authority, the venezuelan tax authority and customs …… they just let us go. I think they just got tired. We only made the flight because it was delayed for an hour and half …….. good ole Caracas.

What I figured later is this, while technically I was still in transit (so in my mind I wouldn´t have had to pay a departure tax)…… since the second leg of the trip was a domestic flight (from Porlamalar Venezuela to Caracas Venezuela) they considered that ¨leaving the airport¨because I had to collect my baggage and walk over to the international side in order to check in with Aerolineas. Even though I was still technically in transit when I went through customs on Margarita Island (which is absolutely gorgeous by the way) and then checked in for my flight to Caracas it was considered ¨leaving the airport” because I went through customs….. but its not like I had a choice. Damn me and my funky flight plan.

Lesson Learned:: Dont spend a Quarter trying to save a dime. Though I didn´t end up paying, the emotional stress during those 3 hours was enough to make me look for another alternative. Other lesson? Carry more US dollars on me when travelling through SA….. people love it here.

Let me say it one more time…….. I HATE Caracas Venezuela. I knew that before, but my hate for the city, or more aptly that airport is on a whole new level now.

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9/11: The Death Of A Lie and Greedy Grief

September 11, 2006

As I watched the smoke plume from the pentagon that day I grew the fuck up. In a moment I realized how much I had been lied to, and how my cushy suburban upbringing was the social equivalent of child abuse because it had made me lazy. Lazy because I was all too willing to accept what I was told, what I read, and what I watched in the news. 9/11/01 was the day I grew up and out of my childish notions that believed my school teachers who preached that America would never be attacked on it’s soil. As the hot flames licked the skies and left their ashen fingerprints I grew up that day because the lie died, as it should have died for everyone that day. The lie made us feel safe, as if there really is such a thing. The lie made us feel like we didn’t have to pay attention to the rest of the world because we were powerful and rich and no one would dare attack us. I didn’t lose anyone I knew that day in the smoke so I can’t claim any particularly moving 9/11 story. I have no harrowing tale about narrowly escaping death, or having just dropped a loved one off at the pentagon for work. I have no story except that the smell of the fire sent the lie up in smoke for me that day.

Jill at Feministe hits the nail right on the head. I couldn’t have said this any better. I hate the stories. I hate the “where were you on 9/11?” exchange as if it’s a competition. These stories are usually by people who were no where near the attacks in order to conjure up some grief. Greedy greevers. I hate that it was twisted to justify a sorry ass war on a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and I hate all the people who are just now realizing that. I hate how fuckers around the country started waving American flags all over the place and were willing to give the most powerful fucker on the face of the planet carte blanche to reek havoc on whoever they damn well please. I hate the media spins and how they play, and replay the same clips over and over again that fuel the misplaced patriotism of so many. I hate the movies. I hate the documentaries. I hate the supposed controversy over the tilt of those damn movies. Do we really need to have this shit reenacted? Could we not live without the created dramatic dialogue and a minute by minute breakdown of all the fucked up shit that led to that day in 2001? Is it absolutely necessary for every one in the country to act as voyeurs to the pain of people who actually lost someone tangible that day?

I am still trying to understand this supposed “collective grief”. Supposedly, we all lost something that day. Yea we lost our imperialistic sense of immunity. Collectively as a country we all lost our sense of security, but that was a lie anyway. So forgive me if I am not exactly moved by the sentiment of people who couldn’t sleep that night, shed tears, or moved about their lives uneasy for a while. Uneasy? Try worrying about getting blown the fuck up every day you take the subway. Try walking and driving past the building gravesites as part of daily life. Try actually losing someone when all they did was go to work. I’m not sorry that I don’t give a damn about you mourning the lost of your sense of security, because you too were just as foolish as I to believe that you ever had it to begin with. I am not sorry your world was rocked, this day 5 years ago was evidence that all of our worlds needed to be rocked. So please put your flags and your misguided foolish patriotism back in storage, because if you really wanted to show an act of national solidarity and true patriotism you would still be too angry to even look at a flag today.