The plane descended over the valley preparing for landing. The geometry of the land appeared in the distance, drawing row after row of poplar trees bordering the farms. Slim and tall, the trees stood on guard, protecting the fields from the fury of the winds tumbling down from the far-away mountains. Memories rapidly rushed to the present. Antonio realized that, during windy evenings, the castanets of the tree leaves kept the farmers from falling sleep, while the silvery shivering of the foliage fought the disappearing sun.
With the land getting closer, small adobe houses appeared, peppering the land, while tiny moving dots roamed in the outlying green fields. Only then, staring at the golden wheat meadow, he felt how much he had missed this landscape.
Returning for a visit was the hardest decision to make. The desire had brewed for years in the back of his mind but was always discounted by the weight of unexplainable fears. Although it has been so long ago since he left, the trauma of departing abruptly, leaving everything behind, was never conquered.
This journey had not been easy by any means. After the experience of rebuilding life in an unknown land, he promised not to repeat the experience of becoming uprooted again. It had been too unfamiliar and hard finding how to assimilate and how to belong. Most of all, it had been tough existing without reminders from the past, without tangible samples of his own history. Everything had been left in the past, including memories. He pledged that this would not happen again.
It did not take long for the plane to scratch the runway at a speed that seemed unstoppable. Finally, however, the landscape flying by became serene and the airport building visible. In the background terraces, groups of people waved their arms, while others carried flowers and flags to welcome expected arrivals. Those in the plane pressed their faces to the small windows, trying to see someone familiar in the still-remote multitude.
Antonio was not an exception, although he knew that no one was waiting for him. It was just curiosity. Yet the thought of a welcoming hug was comforting and even relaxing. After all, he did not know what to expect.
Walking out from the plane into the now modern mechanical corridors, Antonio began a journey that, without him knowing, was intended to close a loop.
Soon, he was walking through pristine modern halls, full of transients to unknown destinations. It was so different from the small simple single building far-off from where the planes landed that he remembered from when he had left.
After he had gone up and down stairs and through narrow corridors, an area of interminable checkpoints came into view. Unlike years ago, he now felt relatively secure and welcomed by friendly smiles, colourful dresses, and gentle mannerisms. The men in uniform, with guns, watching every corner of the airport had disappeared; and so had the fear.