There's something wonderfully invigorating about traveling and exploring a new place that opens the senses, honors our need for change, and asks us to question assumptions about our habits and cultural perspective. So many places are a hop, skip, and a jump away from home, I wonder why I don't go out exploring more often.
On a recent trip from Massachusetts to Mexico, I could have sworn the universe was trying to prevent me from getting to my final destination - my first real vacation in 4 years! (Reminder: Go on vacation more often!) At first, frustration ran high with missed flights. But everything was out of my control, and as one more obstacle and then another and another was added to those preceding it, the absurdity of the whole day became an absurd amusement. This day was going to be most appropriately narrated in quotes and in priceless moments that added up to most ridiculous travel day of my life.
[While in a long line at the ticket counter in Hartford.]
"Last call for Dallas!"
[We rush the counter, breathe deeply through security, then sprint to the gate.]
"Ladies and gentlemen waiting in the gate area for American Airlines flight to Dallas. Due to lightening in the area, all planes are currently grounded."
The Red River on the border between Texas and Oklahoma.
On the tarmac in Dallas waiting for a gate to open up.
[In Dallas, rebooking to Querétaro.]
"Hi, I need to rebook my flight to Querétaro because my morning flight was delayed."
"Oh, Querétaro. There are no seats on the next flight. We can rebook you direct to León?"
"No, I must go to Querétaro."
"Okay....here's your itinerary to Querétaro via Monterrey on Aero Mexico. But we can't actually ticket you of course because it's a different airline."
[In Dallas, on the plane to Monterrey. Twelve hours into my trip.]
"Folks, we're just waiting for the mechanics to arrive...."
[Half an hour later]
"Folks we don't know how long it will take for the mechanics to fix the problem, so we're going to ask everyone to deplane."
[3 hours later]
"Folks in the gate area waiting for the flight to Monterrey. The mechanical issue has been fixed, but now we have a flight attendant timing out. We're unable to fly with one less crew member and we have just called scheduling to determine if we can find another crew member for our flight."
[A yelling drama unfolds in the gate area in spanish. She's apparently through with the waiting and seems to be trying to form an alliance with other passengers the way you do when you're really mad and can't get your way. I ask for a translation from a Mexican from Acapulco who I'd been chatting with, but he simply says she is being extremely rude and should be kicked off our flight. Politeness matters.]
[I rebook my flight from Monterrey to Querétaro, AGAIN. The last flight of the night, the last chance today. The gate agent is getting to know us all by name and personality, I think.]
[We board. We sit. One of the gate crew is talking with the captain. There are hand motions. He leaves. He returns. More hand motions. The drama queen, sitting in the first row of first class, asks a question of the stewardess who explains. We watch in silence from the back rows.]
"Okay folks, we're number 1 for take off. I'm going to try to fly this plane as fast as I can to recover some time for you!"
Finally, on our way to Mexico!
[In Monterrey, I ask and search out AreoMexico. Between a Mexican who barely speaks english and an American, I find it by hiking to the next terminal. It's a wonderful airline with folks wanting to be helpful! My cell phone works (thankfully!) and I'm able to call the company that will give me a ride from the airport, rescheduling yet again, the last travel minutes of my day, grateful to be able to do so in english. I eat my first taco in country, and watch soccer on the food court TV and think maybe I'll get there tonight after all.]
A welcome presentation! My first Mexican taco in the food court at the Monterrey Airport. I'm still not sure what the large green food is. Nopales?
[The flight from Monterrey to Querétaro is a on a plane with large windows set squarely in each row of seats, perfect for flying on a moonlit night above the clouds. Our flight path parallels a series of north/south storm cells and we are treated to a lightening show to the west.]
[A sign with my name on it greets me in Querétaro, but the driver seems indifferent. It is getting close to midnight he's tired, I guess. Perhaps he thinks, I'm simply a crazy American who has cancelled and rebooked her arrival too many times in one day. I completely agree, but we must drive into the night to San Miguel.]
[Twenty-two and a half hours after I left home, I arrive with all my luggage in San Miguel De Allende, greeted by welcoming friends, exhausted, but grateful to be relaxing over looking the city at night.]