I would return to Paris tomorrow, given the chance.
Despite the latest warnings cautioning travelers.
Despite the terrorist shootings in Paris.
Despite the terrorist scare we experienced when we landed at Paris’ DeGaulle Airport early last Sept. 25.
The flight to Paris was quite smooth. We landed on time, although touchdown was somewhat of a shock as the fog was so thick we couldn’t see the lights outside until we hit the runway. We passed through customs rapidly, much more so than at Heathrow a month earlier. And after quickly retrieving our luggage, our hosts Roland and Alain were there to greet us.
We found a small alcove at the airport, where we could wait until Roland and Alain met the other couple who would join us. Tim and I talked and watched the airport passers-by for a half hour or so.
Suddenly, an extremely large cop, clad in black, came through. His size made the whistle in his mouth look so diminutive to appear almost a joke. He began tweeting the whistle, his arm motions ordering us to move back. We did, pulling our suitcases, standing a few moments. He returned, motioning us further back.
Tim and I found a place to sit. Within moments, more officers arrived, wearing black uniforms and equipped with assault rifles. A couple had dogs.
“Why did we ever leave home?” Tim asked.
I didn’t let myself think the same, although we were across the ocean, in a country where I only had a rudimentary knowledge of the language, separated from the only people we knew. I wondered how we would find them again after whatever caused the commotion had passed.
After 45 minutes or so, we were allowed to proceed back across the barrier. We found the area we first occupied and waited there. Roland and Alain arrived, along with the other couple. Somehow we all found each other and left the airport.
The cause of all the confusion? Someone had left an unattended suitcase near the check-in counter. Officials had to check the possibility it might contain a bomb. Like most such threats, it turned out to be nothing.
With my reporter’s instinct, it was natural for me to want to be close to the action. Tim, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with it. I was more frightened as we drove out of Paris, in a traffic jam, with motorcyclists barreling down the thin areas between cars in speeds that appeared 60 mph or greater.
We enjoyed our 10 days in the French countryside south of Paris, a pastoral area where one could drive for minutes without seeing another car. Our time back in Paris was brief, and there’s more I want to see, a lot we didn’t get to do.
So I’d go back in a heartbeat. I refuse to let the random possibility of a terrorist encounter keep me home. I put myself in more danger, statistically, driving to the grocery store. Most people don’t think twice about doing that, but some avoid travel for fear of terrorism.
There’s a slim chance I may become a terrorist victim while living my life. But if I let terrorists rule my life, I’m already a victim.