The Plan was as follows:
- Fly out of Mexico City at 8 am, get into Miami at 11 am.
- Seven-hour layover in Miami. (I had a really great book to look forward to.)
- Leave Miami at 6:30 pm, get into Curaçao at 10 pm.
Inconvenient, with that incredibly long layover, but no more so than I'm used to.
And it all went according to plan. Until the last part. And it ended with me not sleeping (or changing clothes, eww) for over 48 hours.
In order to fly out of Mexico City at 8 am, I had to be at the airport at 6 am (we're still reasonable over there, 2 hours for international flights is plenty).
But remember I'm not in Mexico City. I'm in Cuernavaca, 2 hours away. In order to be at the airport at 6:00 am, I have to leave Cuernavaca at 4:00 am.
But there is no 4:00 am bus; the closest one is at 3:40 am. I schedule a taxi at 3:15 am to drive me to the station.
But, of course, I have to pack, and by the time I'm done with that it's nearly midnight. If I sleep, I will never ever wake up in time. So I don't sleep. I figure I'll catch some shut-eye on the plane. Sleep half of my 7-hour layover in Miami. Whatever.
Except... I don't sleep. I'm too hooked with the book I'm reading. I have MIRACLE tour posts to write. Several story ideas wreaking havoc in my head. And, once in Miami, I'm hungry. The airport is busy. It's the middle of the day. No quiet place to even doze.
By the time I board the plane to Curaçao in Miami, I'm having serious trouble keeping my eyes open. Nothing's going to keep me awake once I'm in that seat—how fortunate that the plane is only about half full, and I get three seats to myself. I bundle up, roll up one of the extra shawls to do double duty as a pillow, and that's it. Lights out.
We're turning around, going back to Miami.
Fifteen minutes after reaching cruising height (wait, I was asleep only fifteen minutes?), a light turned on in the cockpit—a light that's not supposed to turn on. Something about a stabilizer. No clue what a stabilizer is, but it seems to me that it's a good idea for a plane to have one—and an even better idea, if the thing's not working properly, to go back down to the ground.
I think we all (pilot included) harbored hopes it would be nothing but a malfunction of the light rather than the actual stabilizer. Some kind of short-circuit, faulty wire... Something that could be fixed in a minute.
We landed back in Miami at around 7:20. For an hour and a half, we—crew and passengers—held on to hope. At one point, they actually started boarding again (a different aircraft). But then, at around 9:30 pm, we got the news we'd be sticking around until next morning. Hotels were booked solid, so only a few very lucky souls got a room. I was not one of them. Sure, I could've screamed and shouted and made a scene; a few people did, and it got them absolutely nowhere. I called five hotels on my own, and they all said the same thing: nothing's available. A scene wasn't going to magically produce hotel rooms somewhere.
|My sleeping nook at the Miami airport.|
(Of course, after the unplanned extension
of the trip, I had to buy another book... )
Besides, I had no energy left.
We got some dinner and breakfast vouchers, which we promptly proceeded to spend on the last joint open in Terminal D—which, most auspiciously, was a bar. A couple of beers and a burger later, I found a place to have a nighty-night smoke, and camped out on a welcoming spot of carpet. It's not exactly quiet inside an airport terminal, even in the middle of the night, but I didn't want a too-sheltered spot, either (I'm from Mexico; safety issues are in my DNA).
I managed to sleep for almost 4 hours.
Around 4:30 am, the racket of a restaurant's iron curtain rolling up woke me.
I went all-out: French toast, scrambled eggs, fruit and milk and orange juice and sausages. At 6:00 am I was at the gate. 6:30 am we boarded. 7:00 am we took off. 11:00 am we landed in Curaçao (CUR is one hour ahead of EST).
Yes, I did sleep the whole way. But I woke up for the final approach. I'm always glad to see Curaçao's rocky coasts and lapis lazuli ocean... But this time I really felt like crying tears of gratitude.
|Ah... Dushi Kòrsou (Sweet Curaçao) at last!|