Thursday, February 9, 2017

Pasajero Menonita


Continued from Suspicious Mennonite

My heart began pounding out of my chest as memories of being asked to go with a police officer surfaced. But this officer wasn’t as nice as the one that handled my stalker case. This one didn’t even offer me a seat. He seemed very angry and twice as tall as I was when. He got so close to me that I could smell his breath as he began yelling at me. “WHY DO YOU HAVE KNIVES IN YOUR BACKPACK?”

“I”

“WHO ARE YOU?”

“I”

“WHERE ARE YOU GOING?”

“I”

“WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH THOSE KNIVES?”

“I”

“HOW OFTEN DO YOU CROSS THE BORDER INTO THE US?”

“I,” that was all I could get in, he was so angry that he wouldn’t even let me explain. Finally, the door opened and a young officer with a nice smiled came in and asked the tall officer, “May I?”

“GO AHEAD!” He yelled as he walked out and slammed the door.

“Why is he so mad at me?” I asked.

“I’m not sure but maybe I can help. My name is Ben. What is your name?”

“Anna,” I replied in a shaky voice.”

I braced myself as he walked up to me and put his hand out to shake mine. I hesitated but he wouldn’t put his hand down, so I reached out and put my shaking hand on his and shook it.

He slid a chair close to me and said, “Alright Anna, have a seat and explain yourself. What is going on here?”

I began explaining, he seemed to buy my story until he asked what nationality I was. I told him that I was German.

“You are German?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, I’ll be right back,” he said and left.

The door opened and a different man came in with my passport in his hand. He began speaking to me in German, but I didn’t understand a word of what he was saying. I just stared at him. He paused and waited for me to respond and when he realized that I couldn’t answer him in German, he explained the other officer told him that I was German.

“Well, I am.”

“But you don’t speak German?”

“Not like that.”

He looked at my passport and said, “You say that you are German but your Canadian passport says that you were born in Mexico? Is this correct?”

“Yes.”

“Then why do you say that you are German when you are asked what nationality you are?”

“Because, I am German,” I answered.

“Okay, so what language do you speak fluently then?” he asked.

“None,” I answered and he began pulling his hair back and I knew from watching George that that meant he was getting really frustrated.

“Look, I really don’t speak any language that fluently.”

“Okay, so what language would you say that you speak the most?”

Plautdietsch. But in Canada people tell me I speak Low German.”

He stared at me for a minute and then proceeded to leave the room. A couple of minutes another officer came in. This one spoke Spanish and English.

¿Donde naciste? (Where were you born?)”

En México.”

¿Qué parte de México? (What part of Mexico?)”

La colonia Haburgo, Nuevo Ideal Durango.”

¿Es usted menonita? (Are you Mennonite?)”

No estoy seguro. (I’m not sure.)”

“Okay, what do you mean you are not sure if you are a Mennonite or not?”

“Well, the English people in Canada tell me that I am a Mexican Mennonite. But we call ourselves Dietsch, not Mennonite, but I am not sure if they are right and I just don’t know these things.”

“Okay, Anna. Thank you for explaining that. I think I know what's going on here. When an officer asks you what your nationality is, you have to say you are the nationality of the country that issued your passport.”

“Okay, but I am not a Canadian.”

“Yes, you are.”

“I am?”

“Yes, when you became a Canadian citizen, you became a Canadian. Even though you weren't born in Canada, that is your nationality. Okay?”

“Okay.”

“Explain to me again, why you have knives in your backpack?”

I started from the beginning again. I told him a bit more about myself, that I had left my colony and that I was really just going home for the first time on my own since coming to Canada. I explained that I really did think that a set of silverware was the best gift I could bring my mom.

“Okay, so you don’t travel back to Mexico often?”

“No.”

“How much money do you have on you?”

“Fifty dollars and a few pesos that I think aren't even good anymore because they took away a bunch of zeros from the peso since I left Mexico.”

“Okay, did anyone ask you to take anything with you?”

“Ahhh, no. But if it’s that much trouble, then you can just keep my gift.” I explained.

“No! Here,” he said as he handed me my passport and said, “Have a safe trip home.”

“Okay, thank you,” I answered and just stood there unsure of what I should do next.

“Go! Get out of here, good luck with the rest of your trip,” he said.

I packed everything back into my backpack including the set of silverware and walked out thinking, “Okay, so where do I go now?” Then the woman that checked my luggage yelled, “Ma’am, don’t forget your ticket” and explained where I had to go next. When I finally got to the right gate where I was going to board the flight. I had just enough time to go to the bathroom and throw up one more time before they called to board the flight.

A flight attendant escorted me to my seat, a middle seat. I sat down in my seat, hugged my backpack, closed my eyes, took a deep breath and thought, “Ahhh finally,” then two men came and sat down on either side of me. I sat up straight, held my breath and thought, “Na oba!”

They both looked at me and said, “Hello,” as the seatbelt lights came on and the flight attendant began explaining the rules and what to do in case of a crash. I had no more time to think. The plane started moving and when it took off it felt like my stomach had been left behind just like when I went on my first motorcycle ride with George. All I could do was hold on to my backpack and repeat all my memorized prayers in my head over and over until I couldn't hear myself pray anymore because my ears were popped.

“Here, would you like a piece of gum?” Asked a deep voice that reminded me of Hilary’s voice.

I looked over at the man to my right. He even looked a bit like Hilary, only he didn’t wear glasses, he didn't have a beard, and he had a sleek haircut. He was dressed in a gray suit and a black and gray striped tie. I just stared at his fancy gold watch as he handed me a pack of gum and said, “This will help to un-pop your ears.”

“Okay,” I said in a shaky voice as I reached and grabbed the gum. I was shaking so much that I couldn't even open the gum pack.

“Here, let me assist you,” said the man and took the gum back. He opened the pack, placed his hand under my shaking hand and carefully dropped a piece of gum into my hand without touching it.

I put the piece of gum into my mouth and as I began breathing in the strong mint flavor from the gum, it felt like the plane had stopped in mid-air. I was really careful as I tried to relax my body back into the seat so I wouldn’t touch either one of the men sitting beside me.

“It’s okay, you can relax. It is going to be a very long flight for you if you are going to be this tense the whole time,” said the man that sat on the left side of me.

I quickly closed my eyes and pretended that I was sleeping so I didn’t have to talk to the men anymore. I had actually fallen asleep when I woke up from a loud snoring sound that was coming from the man to my left. Once I was fully awake I realized that my head was resting on the man's shoulder that gave me the gum. I quickly move and said, “Sorry.”

“It’s okay, feel free to use me as a pillow. I don’t mind at all.”

While I slowly moved further away from him I noticed that he was flipping through a Spanish-English dictionary. I got all excited when I saw the dictionary and the words flew out of my mouth before I even thought about it. “Are you learning Spanish?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Me too,” I said and pulled out my Spanish-English dictionary.

“Okay, where are you traveling too?” he asked.

“Durango Mexico.”

“I am going to Guadalajara,” He explained.

“Okay, do you have family there?”

“No, this is a business trip.”

“Okay,” I said and reminded myself not to ask him any more questions. I began flipping through the pages of my dictionary.

“If you don’t mind me asking, what brings you to Durango?”

“Just the airplane,” I answered.

He laughed and said, “Very well.”

“No, I mean I am just landing in Durango, from there I am going to Nuevo Porvenir. That’s where I am visiting family.”

“Okay. So are you getting onto a different plane in Guadalajara?”

“I have no idea. I haven't even looked at the papers they gave me when I almost wasn’t allowed to get on this plane.”

“Oh, how so?”

“I think it's because my English is terrible. Whenever I answer the questions I am being asked no one ever understands what I am trying to say. It seems the more I explain the more confusing it gets for the people that ask me the questions.”

“But, you speak English just fine.”

“You think so?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, then maybe it's because people keep telling me that I am Mexican Mennonite but I am not Mexican and if I am Mennonite, I didn’t know about that.”

“Yes, I can see how that could be confusing.”

I assumed he would also be confused to learn about people that live in Mexico that call themselves Dietsch and thought I should just change the subject. So I asked if he would help me figure out if I was supposed to get on a different plane in Guadalajara.

“Sure,” he said and I dug out every piece of paper they had handed me at the airport and showed them to him. He looked through them and said, “Yes, you have to get off this plane and go through Mexican Immigration in Guadalajara and then get on a different plane to go to Durango.

“Do you know if I will have to fill out all kinds of papers?” I asked.

“Yes, you most certainly will,” he said and noticed how panicked I looked as I processed what he had just told me.

“I will have to do the same paperwork. I will show you what you need to do.”

“Okay, thank you,” I said and inhaled a deep breath as I leaned back into my seat while I closed my eyes.

“May I ask, why that seems so frightening to you?” And before I could answer we got interrupted by the flight attendants serving breakfast. The clinking sounds of the coffees being served woke up the man to my left. I was very uncomfortable as I had a set of eyes looking at me from both sides as I bowed my head and said my prayer. When I finished, the man to my right explained, “How rude of me, to ask you such an invasive question while you don’t even know my name. I am terribly sorry, my name is Daniel.”

“Hi, I am Nick,” said the man to my left.

“Okay, and I’m Anna,” I said and they both smiled at me as we began eating our breakfast. Click here to continue reading my story.


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