The plane was full, overbooked actually, and it came to my attention that as people were scrambling to find a place for their bags that a plane is grade-A people-watching. We could conduct some fantastic social experiments here.
As people continued to put their bags in to the overhead compartments with their elbows, the experienced flyers such as myself, reclined in our seats and enjoyed the chaos. When we became airborne some were popping sleeping pills and others were throwing back glasses of expensive, yet and at the same time, cheap wine. For some clarification, I was on a red eye not a morning flight.
As we reached maximum altitude I recalled some of my previous traveling experiences.
A Mexican Welcome
I prefer flying direct and will pay extra to avoid changing flights. Especially when I realized how much I disliked them from my experiences traveling alone. My first flight to Mexico would have been fine if not for the time zone change which eluded me and my nearly missing the connecting flight. Sitting in my seat of the second leg of the trip my anxiety levels were high. This may have been why the woman next to me was inclined to share her life story with me; to relax me. That, or she liked to tell people her life story. Likely the latter but I’d like to believe it was the former.
After learning probably more than I needed to know about her, even if we were friends, we landed in Mexico and I followed her like a lost dog. She guided me through the line in customs and stayed with me at the random-selection screening process of bag inspections. As I pressed the button and hoped it would turn green I began to panic as I remembered there were potato chips in my bag. The light turned green and I wouldn’t have to be confronted by customs — what a relief. Only that when I turned the woman was gone. I was in a state of anxiety once more. I saw and walked towards a man sitting in a booth in customs and in rusty Spanish asked him where was I supposed to go next.
He considered me for a moment and said, ” a tu casa” (to your house).
Who Needs Street Smarts?
Older now and headed back to (where else?) Mexico for a wedding, when disastrous weather stranded me in Houston where my connecting flight never left Boston to meet me at the airport for our rendezvous. Per the offending airline I had two options: a.) Get on the next mid-afternoon flight tomorrow and arrive two hours before the wedding or b.) Get on a plane to Mexico City, spend the night in the airport and be on the early flight to Guadalajara that following morning.
I, of course, choose to grab the plane to Mexico City. Informing my family of my decision as they were already in Mexico waiting, they only advice they gave was to NOT leave the airport. Sound advice for a girl with no street smarts in a tough city.
It was one of the best decisions that I ever made. Getting off the plane and wondering around the airport aimlessly in the middle of the night was a little nerve-wracking until I heard two men speaking in Spanish.
“If we get a hotel now we can get some sleep before catching the plane tomorrow,” said one.
“I know, but I don’t want to risk missing the plane. And I really don’t want to be out around Mexico City at night,” said the other.
“But we have work tomorrow,” said the first but this time in perfect, no-accent English.
“I know!” I chimed in. “You want to stay here with me.” I’m sure I smiled my biggest, cheesiest smile possible.
And they did. The two men who I’d never met decided to stay in the airport food court with a strange girl and I’m still grateful that they did. We talked about their recent trip to Vegas and all the fantastic Cirque de Solelil shows I HAD to see, discovered that between the two of them they spoke 12 languages, sang the Numa Numa song after having it translated and quoted lines from My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
Later, as we waited in line to board the plane at 6 a.m. and very much sleep-deprived, the smallest things had us laughing till it hurt our chests. Such as the fact that Rodrigo’s nose flairs when he breathed deeply and how disgusting our teeth felt after being unable to brush them.
As I write this I smile — perhaps I should give connecting flights another try since that’s where the interesting people and stories are.