ACT I: Landing at Zaventem
After an amazing week on holiday, on a chill Mediterranean island, it was time for me and my man to pack again and head back to Brussels. Truth be told, I’m never to bumped about coming back home, but little did I know this time.
The story starts on the airport tarmac, on what the weather-men claimed to be the hottest day of the year (to date) in Belgium. Carrying our luggage in the heat and heading towards the airport. Absolutely no complaining up to this point, just heavily sweating. Then we entered the new, fancy Terminal A. Now, I don’t know how many of you have landed on this terminal, but I can tell you it’s been designed to mock people and to drive them nuts. Flight-over-a-cuckoo’s-nest-nuts. Don’t give a sigh of relief if you land there, not at all. If you have the misfortune of landing there, you’ll have to cross what seemed to me like the nine circles of the inferno: an endless string of stores, up and down on the escalator, more stores, then up again and, of course, more stores. There’s no way around it. You feel like the walking will never stop. And there’s no way of escaping the stores. Makes sense, because what we really need is buying more stuff (at airport prices). Stuff that we don’t actually want or need, stuff that we’ll never use, stuff that is literally pushed down our throat, directly into our bags. It is statistically proven that people spend more and with more ease on holidays. Well, now they found a way to get us right when we think we see the light at the end of the terminal tunnel!
So yes, after what seemed like hours (realistically speaking, about 25 minutes) we emerged into the arrivals hall. I hope all smokers (and non-smokers) will resonate: after an almost three hours’ flight (and the store-labyrinth), all one can ask from life is nothing more than a cigarette. So we roll and we head out for a smoke. Strange enough, there’s security guarding the airport exit. We light, we puff, it’s good. Then we want to turn back and take the train to Brussels. Well, think again! We are not allowed to go back in. I tell the guy we just got out, we were smoking just in front of him, WHY aren’t we allowed to go back? “Because” is his answer. Needless to say, there’s a ton of people on the other side of the road, so this whole “security” scam is simply demonstrative. At this point, I’m sweating like a polar bear at the tropics, my arms hurt like hell from the hand-luggage, I need to go to the loo, I feel wronged and I just want to go home. At least, the nicotine keeps me afloat.
We decide to just dump the train and take a cab. I have never taken a cab from the airport, but now I’m close to hitting my limits. We queue and wait our turn. All the taxis are black cars with dark windows. I ask the guy directing the people what is this taxi company. He tells me it’s a new company (Luxcar) that has taken over the contract with the airport. There’s no way to take any other taxi. How much does it cost? Well, depends on the area. St. Gilles? Easily 60 euros. I’m disgusted by this lame monopoly done in bright day-light, for the sole purpose of skinning people. We abandon mission.
We go back at the airport entrance. Even though I wanna bite the security guy’s head off, I ask him how are we supposed to go to the train station. He points us towards the parking. We head towards the parking. The airport staff did not bother to take the old signs off, so all roads seem to take us to the train station. We walk around, there’s no one to ask. Merde! We manage to locate the elevators in the parking…there’s only one that takes people to level zero. The last one. No signaling, no nothing. Makes sense. We take the elevator and down we go. And then shock and horror: another security check to get to the train station. At this point, I don’t care about the sweat, the heat, the luggage, the taxi monopoly, I just wanna cry. I feel helpless. We put the bags in the tray, through security gate: my water bottle, all the liquids, two lighters in my bag. No one even looks at the screen, no one cares. Another demonstrative act. All this made to make people unease, scared, to spread this feeling of “emergency state”, to simply get us. To fuck up with our minds, our common sense, our human decency. To spit on us and make us thank them for it. I feel like we’re all in a bad play. Fast-forward, we’re finally in the train. There’s no AC, but who gives a damn?!? Everything is going to be OK…
ACT II: Coming back home
We get out the metro at Horta at dusk. It’s beautiful. I feel like crying. Everything is OK! We enter our building, we take the elevator, we are home. And then I notice the fridge is unplugged. By me, before leaving, thinking it was the coffee machine. It is not empty and neither is the freezer. On the hottest day of the year, after one week away.
Words Mona Lazar
Even though I normally write about food and nutrition, this is an experience I feel I need to share. I have no solutions or answers, no advice… or maybe yes, one piece of advice: be mentally and emotionally prepared! After that, it’s up to each of us to take the actions they see best fit. Here goes!