by Jo Barnes –
“The Victoria International Airport is a busy place where people come and go as daily flights arrive and depart. Travellers move with determination to make connections or wait anxiously for loved ones to arrive. Airports are places of joy and sadness, departures and reunions. Everyone has a story, and it’s here that we’ll be sharing some of them.“
Just a few years ago, people travelling long distances had to depend on a travel agent to arrange their accommodation, usually in some sort of hotel. Now there are all kinds of ways not only to set this up but varying definitions of that home-away-from-home.
One woman is keen to welcome someone at the gate. Her name is Tisa, and she’s waiting for travel guest Suimei who is flying in from Calgary. Tisa is part of an increasingly popular marketplace, Air BNB, which allows people to lease or rent lodging for a short term. It’s a system she supports wholeheartedly.
“I take advantage of Air BNB myself,” she says. “I’ve been doing it for a while now. I meet people from all over the world.”
Suimei arrives at the gate and is greeted warmly. Soon she departs with Tisa to her home-away-from-home.
For some travelers, accommodation arrangements are a little less formal.
“I’m waiting for my friends the Browns,” says Mary Campbell. “I’ve been house-sitting their place here in Victoria.” The Browns are flying in from Barbados, via Toronto and Vancouver. Travelling is something they all share in common. Mary herself has been to Barbados and will soon drive across Canada for the first time to return to her Ottawa home.
“I love to travel; there are so many interesting places to visit,” she shares.
Mary’s friends arrive; there is joy all around. The Browns know their home has been tended well, and Mary knows she’ll soon begin her own road adventure.
For some folks, the airport is a very familiar place. They pass through it on the way to work or to add another destination to the travel scrapbook.
“I’m seeing my brother off,” says Glenn Jasechko. “It’s not the first time. He’s well travelled.”
Glenn’s brother Scott is heading off to San Francisco to see his fiancée (Debra). It’s clear the two brothers are no strangers to travelling.
“The cool thing I think is this one (Scott) is going to San Francisco, but then he’s going to go to Namibia for a month. He got advice from this one,” says mom Jennifer, pointing to her son Glenn.
In 2013 Glenn travelled to Namibia to do geological field work there. It’s a place in the world he talks about enthusiastically. “If you want to start your travels in Africa, Namibia is a great place to start. The people are friendly, and the country is safe and well traversed. It’s a fantastic place,” he smiles.
In a couple of months Scott and Debra will be off to Namibia to celebrate their engagement.
“Her engagement ring was a crystal lion which symbolizes Namibia,” shares Jennifer. “The ring is usually all about the woman, but they decided “this ring is about us.”
Scott heads through the door, and mom and brother give him a final wave. The word goodbye hangs in the air awhile.
It’s another farewell at Victoria Airport. It’s another new journey for a traveller, another connection that begins and ends with a hug.
When you’re little, school field trips usually involve a trip to a beach or a farm, but for some university students, their field trips can be much farther afield. “My granddaughter is arriving from Macedonia,” shares Chris Mousseau.
There’s a special bond between grandparents and grandchildren, and this couple is a fine example. They have travelled down Island from Nanaimo to meet their granddaughter Sabrina who has been away with a group from university. “They did a lot of travelling and interviewing families. It’s for anthropology, that’s what she’s studying,” continues Chris.
Sabrina has been out of country for two-and-a-half months, so grandma and grandpa are keen to see her again. Soon the passengers arrive. Sabrina is spotted in the crowd moving towards the gate. Extending her arms out, grandma readies herself for the warm hug which follows.
As the three of them head towards the luggage carousel, you can sense the relief that a member of the family has returned. Their drive home will probably be filled with all kinds of chat. But it won’t be a conversation about petting animals at the farm or building sandcastles at the beach. The granddaughter’s world is a much bigger place now. Field trips now involve overseas adventures and school buses have been replaced by airplanes.