Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Mexico Trip (Part 2)

(Continued from Part 1)

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.

The pilot's voice over the loudspeaker wakes me from a deep, deep sleep. It's dark outside, and I'm certain it must be close to landing time. Until I start paying attention to what he's actually saying.

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.

It wasn't.

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.

Restaurant. Breakfast.

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!


  1. Hi Guilie - I have never had that sort of journey .. sure I've been tired by delays etc .. but this was rather a sleepless pain .. glad you're safe and did get home to Curacao eventually - yes I bet you were pleased to land - thank goodness for those 3 seats .. cheers Hilary

    1. Too right, Hilary; those 3 seats felt like cosmic justice :) Thanks for the visit!

  2. This is why I prefer driving to flying, but in your case that was not an option. At least you have some wild experience to add to some future book.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    1. I love driving, Lee! Especially long trips... Which is actually one of the things I miss the most living on such a small island, incidentally. If there was a ferry to the mainland, I'd actually *love* to drive all the way to Mexico... What a trip that would be! And, of course, you're right... All these experiences add up to enrich our fiction—always look on the bright side, right? ;) Thanks for coming by!

  3. What a travel horror story, Guilie! That's worse than anything I've experienced. At least a hotel room was provided in my case. Your sense of relief at landing in Curaçao must have been overwhelming. And then you got sick - not a nice aftermath at all. Hope you're feeling better now. BTW, I love Dean Koontz; something else we have in common. ☺

    1. I blame the airport carpet, Debbie... Can you imagine how virus- and bacteria-ridden that thing is? It was a pretty strong bug, too; after 2 weeks I'm only beginning to feel like myself again. Yuck. On the other hand, it builds antibodies, right? Haha :D

      I'm a HUGE Dean Koontz fan! (Why am I not surprised you like him, too? ;) ) Though this last one, the wrap-up of the Odd series, didn't meet expectations. And I was so excited about it, too... Will have to give the latest (non-Odd) novel a go, see if I can get back into the Koontz groove ;) Have you read it? Can't think of the title right now...

    2. Yes, the carpet must have been laden with germs.. :P Sorry it's taking you so long to recover. I actually haven't read the latest Dean Koontz novels, but they're all stacked on my bedside table. (Damn computer addiction!) That's too bad about the last Odd book. It's in the stack as well. His new novel, "Ashley Bell" is coming out Dec. 8.

  4. Yikes, and more yikes! Those layovers can be a killer never mind all the other delays ... Yup, I've experienced that a few times. It's always a miracle to me that I arrive home safely ... :)

    1. You're so right, Susan... We tend to take all this supersonic modern travel so much for granted, but it really is a miracle—and often it's these glitches that serve to remind us of it.

      Thanks so much for the visit! By the way, I'm REALLY enjoying In Praise of Lilith! Thank you again :)

  5. 'Several story ideas wreaking havoc in my head' Relate. :-) 'Blurred cultural boundaries.' Ditto.

    Air travel can be such a pain sometimes. Glad all arrived safe.

  6. Given that I am reading this on the American Thanksgiving, I started thinking about the movie, Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I'm glad you actually stayed at the airport than get into a scary taxi that takes you to the seediest motel in the area. What an ordeal! Glad you made it back safe and sound. I bet you had a long shower and then slept


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