Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Travel frustrations

Tuesday, November 2, were arose at 4:00 AM, had some tea and went off to the Columbus Airport. I had a backpack and one suitcase carrying all my painting equipment, and some clothes, and six rolls of Viva papertowels. My traveling companion, Nora, was carrying a small packlike purse, a childsized wheeling suitcase and two larger suitcases, one larger than the other. She couldn´t get them into the airport all at one go, so I am not sure how she planned on traveling with them.

The nice people at the airport desk helped check us in, and the airport was relativel quiet at that time of morning. My suitcase was 1.5 pounds overweight, but I wasn´t charged, but was warned I´d need to correct that for the return flight. I wheeled  the case to the xray guy, told him I was an artist and in my case were tubes of artists oil colors in plastic boxes, and a tripod. He smiled, nodded and took the case.

Once Nora made her two trips to get her luggage to this xray guys, we headed off to security and coffee! Security was uneventful. Nora was through before me. Her shoes were back on, and as I was tying my last shoe, she said, "√ém just going to go around the corner to Starbucks and order the coffee. What do you want?" Just as I was finishing lacing my shoe I heard her name called over the intercom. I saw her reappear and as she passed me she stammered a bit nervously, "I'll, I'll be back." Her voice sounded like she was trying to reassure me, but had the nervous tone of uncertainty.

I went to get coffee and then to the gate. Within five minutes boarding procedure began. Once the priority passengers and those with kids got on board they called the first rows, and they also called my name saying they had a message for me, please come forward. The message was that Nora had been delayed and they would send her on a later flight that would arrive in Cancun around 3:00 PM. Sounded reasonable, but I was irritated that she tried to take solvent on a plane. She'd told me that she would take it in a rum bottle wrapped in bubble wrap. She´s learned that trick from Nelson Shanks, no less, who´d once carried it in a vodka bottle. Of course I had no idea if that was the problem, but it´s what I suspected.

I mentioned before that I don´t really know this woman that I'm traveling with, and as the day wore on, I began to realize I´d broken my own rule about not traveling with someone I didn't know well.

My plane reached Houston without a hitch. I made a call to Martin from a payphone with a credit card. I was very sorry I´d not brough my cell phone now, and since. Payphone's are definitely becoming one of the dinosaurs of communication.

After the call, I went to the Service Desk for Continental to try and find out what flight they had put Nora on. The woman behind the desk seemed friendly at first, but I quickly found out that she would be no help to me. First off, she was irritated that I couldn´t hear her voice. She was not going to speak up and the airport noise prevented me from hearing her. She sat with her hand out as I asked explained the situation to her, and asked if she could tell me what flight they had put Nora on, followed by saying, "Please tell me what it is that you want from me so I can hand it to you.¨" She wanted my ticket and passport, which I promptly handed to her. She checked me in for my international flight to Cancun, but she said she could give me no information on another passenger. I thanked her and left the desk.

I walked to the gate, bought a bottle of water and took a seat to record all of this, and more, in my journal. And I did a lot of thinking. I thought if I don´t connect with her, I will be on my own in Mexico, what will I do there. This was Plan B thinking, but I felt it was necessary since I didn´t know the cause of her delay, or what she might have in those cases. Maybe I´d not see her again.

Eventually I decided to get something to eat, since my flight was coming up and they don´t feed you on the plane. I also found a bookstore and bought a guidebook to Cancun and the Yucatan. I read a lot of it, starting with Cancun itself since we had no hotel booked. Then a bell went off in my head and I thought to go back to the Service Desk and ask again for the planes that were coming into Cancun from Houston. Of course I had no idea that she was flying through Houston any longer.

The desk was much more animated now. The woman who gave me no help was still there, but there were three new gals coming in to start work. The one sitting next to the unhelpful woman motioned me forward with a smile. She spoke up so I had no trouble hearing her. I said, "Do you want to see my ticket and passport?" She said no. I started to explain the problem. She asked my name, and for Nora´s name.

She was a fountain of information. "She has been rebooked. Oooooooooooooh! She is flying first class! Her flight number is ____, it leaves Houston at _____ and arrives in Cancun at 5:05." That was four hours after mine. "Is she really flying first class? I`ll kill her." This nice woman shook her head yes, looked at me with a smile and said, "We award bad behavior." We exchanged more smiles, I thanked her, and as I turned to walk away I wanted to say something to the unhelpful woman, but I didn´t. Certainly she´d heard the entire thing, and I had to wonder what she was thinking.

I went back to the gate and read the guide book, and wrote in the journal thinking that my journal would be full before I was finished with day one. The flight to Cancun was ontime and without incidence. I arrived at 12:05 (with the time change). I was surprised at all the forms I had to fill out before arrival in Mexico. The immigration agent took my passport and the form and never said a word, just went about making marks on the papers and making a lot of official noise stamping everyting before returning my passport with the visitor´s card.

I was surprised to see that my luggage would be xrayed again to enter Mexico. I was asked what I was carrying. After I explained I received a smile and an "OK." I was in, but now had to figure where to wait for Nora. To make a long story short, I got as much info as possible, changed some money for Mexican pesos and went to get a drink.

Nora did arrive around 6:00 PM and after checking into a hotel, we got ourselves together and I suggested that we go to El Centro. I asked the taxi driver if he knew a good restaurant in El Centro, he mentioned La Parilla. Three people had mentioned it to me, as well as the guidebook. She we went. They had a wonderful maricachi band, and we did lots of drawing and became the darlings of the restaurant.

We flight again today, and once I hit the "post button", I will be off the matrix for a while.

One final comment on my companion, her husband said she had ADD and I think he is right. I feel like I am traevling with an ADD child who has all the rights and priviledges of an adult, and she does. Whew!

Excuse any mistakes this is a keyborad with keys in places I am not used to finding them.