Finally! It never ceases to amaze me how time drags when waiting for moving day, especially when the move is to someplace so completely different. Yea, I know about the zen concept of living in the moment, “when washing a dish, just wash that dish and be in the now,” but zen is not my friend, yet. I just get too excited about what is ahead. As a result, my childlike eagerness has made the days seem like years until now, yes, the wait is over. My bags are packed, the tickets are printed, and my passport is in hand. Off to Mexico, again.
I frequently travel alone due to my inability to play well with others for long periods of time (my way of saying “divorced”). And, when I first began traveling solo, it was a bit unnerving until I realized that, no, I’m not actually alone. In fact, there are hundreds, if not thousands, around me during the journey. This trip I met some great folks and thought I’d take a moment to talk about how much more fun this trip was because of them.
The first leg was on an airport shuttle van supplied by Connecticut Limo. A no frills, three seat, utilitarian vehicle that is affordable, but quite plain. The weather, however, was not. Rain mixed with snow, sun mixed with clouds, and wind gusts all made for easy conversation between former strangers about our joy at leaving the state before the big one hit. As there were only two other travelers during most of our two hour trip conversation flowed easily as it often does when on the road. Heck, none of us will see each other again and that factor almost always makes for a few giggles and a secret, or two, shared.
My first acquaintance was Peg, a woman who got onboard at the same stop as me. Peg was heading for Belgium. But, she wasn’t stopping there, her trip would then take her on to Venice and Morocco and she was, understandably, quite excited. Frustrated too since she had a nasty case of laryngitis, but was nice enough to assure me that she wasn’t ill so I needn’t worry. She’s a pleasant woman who, at first glance, didn’t seem particularly independent by nature until she mentioned that since widowed she saw “no sense in just sitting around the house.” With a gleam she then told me that taking the first part of the trip alone “will be fun.”
Stan, the other passenger, was a heavyset man in his forties heading back to California. Now, I wouldn’t normally mention someone was overweight, but it’s hard to avoid it since he seemed to be so conscious of the fact. I know this because he couldn’t help commenting about his girth, and he did so on three separate occasions. How it was worked into our conversation that was primarily about the weather and our destinations is anybody’s guess, but he managed to do just that. He even took the time to pull up an old picture of himself during his days in the Marines. He had it stored on his Blackberry and showed it to both of us along with commentary about “those were the days when I could eat anything.” Having packed on a few pounds myself, I can empathize, I think.
Once at the airport I realized that just dressing for where I was going, and not for where I was currently standing, was a mistake while I attempted to check my bags at the curb. This was JFK and there are employees who have seen it all and are not all that worried about a woman so cold she’s shaking. I had no idea the wind could be that cold. But, at last, bags are checked and it’s time to go through security. This time I wore Crocs. I’ve learned my lesson about the hassles of removing complicated footwear. With the laptop turned on, my pink carry-on is loaded into the plastic bin alongside my Crocs and I walked through without a problem. It was time to find the gate. Since airports ask for two extra hours time when traveling out of the country there was plenty of time.
I found my gate (number 1, doesn’t get much easier) so I looked around for that place where I will kick back for the next hour and a half, or so. Almost next door was a bar called “Drink.” It just keeps getting simpler, I like that. Inside “Drink” is a young woman by the name of Evelyn who makes a mean Bloody Mary and has an easy smile. When I asked her if I could take her picture she immediately struck a pose, and I’m thinking she’s done this before. Yes, the woman with her hands in the air is her. Very easy to talk with, a great sense of humor, and she shares just enough personal stuff to help the customer feel at home, and all while still keeping an eye out for empty glasses. In other words, the perfect bartender so, please, give her a nice tip if you happen to stop there. She deserves it. The first hour passed quickly.
Next I headed to the waiting area. Immediately I spotted that one child that you just know will make the flight a bit noisier. Wishing I had a dollar for every time he ran past me in the airport, and I think his Dad wished the same. The child’s little legs just kept on pumping and his Dad just kept patiently following his personal journey each and every time, about forty five minutes of exercise for the both of them. I’m assuming his Dad hoped that the energy spent would help his son to sleep during the flight. Oh, if that were only true. The plane no sooner left the earth when that child made his presence known. I began to wax nostalgic for thoughts of Peg’s laryngitis. In fact, I have to admit that I am quite impressed with that boy’s ability to keep his voice even after overusing it for hours. As for everyone else, I’m guessing we were all glad for the invention of MP3’s, or other media devices.
Once we landed it became blissfully quiet, of course. We performed our little game of standing around in the aisle, or by our seats, while waiting for that one person to move so the rest of us can too. With heads bent to accommodate the low ceilings, many of us looked pained and deformed, but it seems to be required of us to do this, so we do. Finally, that one person, whoever that person always is, moved and off we went on. The flight attendants waited by the door and wished us a safe trip as we filed past.
Our flight had been delayed so we didn’t arrive until after 9 in the evening. Cancun airport isn’t JFK and the stores and restaurants were closed, which made for a hungry bunch. A few comments were exchanged about the purse string tightening on flights that no longer include food of any kind. Many of us grumbled a bit then moved on. It was time to go through immigration. I took out my FM3 (my Mexican Visa card) and waited, still unaware that those of us who hold FM3s are supposed to tell immigration when we leave the country in the first place. In other words, they didn’t want to let me back in. It took three immigration workers, a half an hour’s time, and much hassling back and forth in two languages before they decided it was okay that I stay in the country. Since I couldn’t afford to turn around and head back to the states, that decision was welcomed.
Again, due to the delayed flight, my puddle jumper flight to the island had to be postponed until morning. Outside the airport I looked for a hotel shuttle. In the interim, a taxi driver came up to me and asked me where I wanted to go. I told him the Marriott, which I knew from my former life in Cancun, was only about a mile away and he then told me $37.00. I couldn’t help but laugh, I have missed it here. He, however, was not so amused. I told him that I have lived in Mexico and knew better than to pay anything over $5.00 (and that is a lot) for a trip only a mile long. He was not happy, but walked away just in time for me to spot a gentleman holding a shuttlebus sign. And it was free. Off to the Marriott I went, which, by the way, is quite new, very pleasant, and they have great coffee. I dropped onto the king size bed and let it all go.
Well, it’s really the day this time. Waiting at the Mayair service area for my flight I started to get a bit nervous. The planes really are quite small and some look to be as old as me. That’s scary. But, everyone was nice, they even backed out of my range when I pointed my camera at the plane I would be boarding for the last leg of this trip. Once inside, after two gentlemen helped me with my bags, I belted in, looked out, and smiled in anticipation. The trip is done and I am heading home. And, thanks to the folks along the way, this was a good journey. Next……….. Salud!