Trip Report 8/20-8/27 part 8

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Posted by scott from ( on domingo, septiembre 08, 2002 at 14:00:22 :

Its Tuesday morning and we wake early. A quick glance out of the balcony shows it to be a clear day thats guaranteed to be hot. Without much said, both M and I start the job of packing. Because of the many different items weve purchased to take home, we cannot take all of the breakables in the carry-on. Also, travelling on the commuter airlines means that everything gets checked to baggage, so its doubly important to be extremely careful in how we place items. One platter is so large, it has to go into the giant rolling suitcase that always gets checked. Items are wrapped in paper, packed along clothes, with more clothes stuffed here and there so that nothing shifts no matter how the cases are shaken dropped or loaded. The wooden crocodile will be carried by M separately as it just wont pack. What helps us with space is the fact that the school supplies we carried down are now gone as well as the food that M brought for J. What clothes we dont have room for in the two suitcases gets stuffed in the third bag we bring for beach toys. Eventually, it all finds a place.

But upon packing, we discover that we still dont have everything I need for gifts, and so I decide to make one final visit to the artisians market. While I do this, M and J will go down to the beach. We plan to meet there, have lunch, and then return to the room to shower and change in preparation for the trip home. By 10 am its already 90 degrees, and as I walk through the market, my shirt is soaked with perspiration. I know what I need (four small ceramic turtles) and I buy them from the first woman I find. But as usual, I cant quit so easily and instead continue shopping where I find another larger turtle that I like even better than the first four. I buy it. Then theres another thats even better than the last, so I buy it as well. What keeps me from buying more is that Ive now run out of money. I make the walk back very slowly.

Once in the room, I pack the newly acquired turtles and head for the pool. The place is deserted. Nobody in the lobby, nobody in the caf, of course, not a soul is at the pool. Its as if the hotel had been closed and they forgot to tell us. The staff is here, but even they seem less than normal. M and J are just about finished at the sand, and so they return to the room while I take a seat at the Sunset Snack bar that overlooks the beach. Remembering the complimentary cocktail coupons we were given upon check-in, I pull one out and ask for a Cuba Libre. The bartender (whos name I have shamefully forgotten) is very friendly and a bit bored because theres just nobody here. No pool equals no drinks equals nothing to do. So we chat. He speaks in broken English and I speak in broken Spanish. We talk about business, we talk about living in San Diego and Zih, and we talk about families and children. When my drink reaches the halfway point, I pull out the last coupon and ask him to just pour a little more rum into the drink and top it with coke. He pours one shot, and second shot, and then, being egged on by a second bartender, opens a new bottle and pours a third shot. Needless to say, hes getting a good tip from me while I get good and tipsy. And for some strange reason, my Spanish seems to get easier. Go figure.

Luckily, before I have a chance to get into even worse shape, M and J arrive. We were going to walk across the street to JJs Junk Food for tacos, but with absolutely no guests here, we decided to give these folks at least a little business and so we move to a table just behind the bar. J gets a hotdog (they bring two), M gets a hamburger, and I get fish tacos. Everybody drinks soda. And so we sit, with a beautiful beach just feet away, eating great food, chatting with nice people, and wishing that we had at least another week to stay. And if wasnt for family back home, and the responsibility that comes with working for somebody else, wed probably stay.

They say to arrive at the airport 2 hours before departure. It always sounds like too much wait time but you never know, so at 1:45 I call the bell desk. Felipe is there within a minute to take the luggage downstairs. At the desk, we settle up for the various food, drink, room service and tips weve accumulated over the past 7 days, putting on the credit card. Thanks are given all around, were asked to return soon, and before we know it bags are being loaded into, or on top of, the taxi. A special thanks is given to Felipe for his help, we wave, and were off. The drive through town to the airport is never as much fun as the drive in, is it? At the airport, we thank the driver, and roll the luggage into the terminal ourselves. Expecting the usual line at check-in, we find no line at all. Our bags are lifted onto tables where they are opened and examined by pretty young women. Or should I say, young pretty women. Anyway, they dont look anything like the security were used to seeing in the States. Within no time, were checked-in, and settling down in chairs for the wait prior to being allowed into the departure area. Its a bit after 2 pm, which means we have an hour before we can move to new seats to wait the remaining 30 minutes before boarding. J quickly finds somebody to play with, and as the kids play, I walk around the terminal, window shop, and buy a book for the trip home. The wait is uneventful, as is boarding. Were lucky enough to pass through the process without having our bags opened once again. On the tarmac it is hot and humid. Next to us a man says his watch is showing 101 degrees and I believe it. Inside the planes, its almost as warm. Theyve lowered all of the window shades, but without electrical support from the engines, the air conditioning is essentially off and the interior of the plane is stifling. People are good though and the plane isnt full, and so we load quickly. Within minutes of taking off, Js head is on the pillow and hes asleep. Hell stay asleep for nearly the entire trip back to Los Angeles. M and I read, talk, look out of the window as coastline passes below, and eat the turkey sandwiches given to us by the attendant. Once past Los Mochis, I watch out the window across the isle for the gleaming white granite of Picacho del Diablo, the tallest peak in Baja. M and I climbed Picacho on a backpacking trip before J came along, and we watch for it whenever we pass by, but I am unable to see it on this flight. Approaching Los Angeles, J wakes up and has a bit of food before landing.

Once landed, we make the long walk through the international terminal, first passing immigration, then getting our bags from the carousel, then passing customs. At immigration, the man asks J his name, how old his is, and if hes going to school. J is typically shy around strangers and requires a little prompting, but the man seems satisfied that were not smuggling a child in from a foreign country and were allowed to continue. We recheck our luggage, walk a block to terminal 3 where we have to pass security. In front of us, we watch security staff put a clear water bottle through x-ray. Now Ive seen everything. As with the last trip, one of our backpacks is taken, swabbed, and sniffed. They ask for our flight plan, record something on a log, and were allowed to continue. The backpack in question goes everywhere with M and so I wonder what strange and possibly illegal aromas its picked up over the years.

After shuttling to the American Eagle terminal, we immediately head for a desk, where we ask to be re-ticketed to an earlier flight. At booking time, we only seem to get flights after 10 pm, and yet we know that earlier flights are available and have space. The staff is always fantastic with this request and do whatever they can to get our checked luggage rerouted to the commuter terminal as quickly as possible. And so, at 7:30, were booked standby for the 8 pm flight home. Sure enough, as they start boarding, were told that our checked bags have been delivered and were able to leave now. I have just enough time to call home on the cel to let my parents know that were leaving, which means they can leave their home shortly to pick us up. The flight home is no different than usual except for the wild landing. As we make our final approach, the plane pitches and yaws dramatically. When J asks out loud if were going to fly upside down now, audible gasps come from seats in front of us. But given the ride, it wasnt an entirely inappropriate question.

Even with all of the fun and surprises, the best part of travelling is coming home. Nana and Papa are waiting with open arms for us and J doesnt disappoint them. Bags are immediately retrieved and we walk the short distance to our car in the parking lot. The temperature outside is a cool 65 degrees. To think that only a few hours ago we were basking in 100 degree heat makes us simultaneously laugh and sigh. But when we enter our house and open the back door to the patio and find our two happy dogs barking and crying at the arrival of their family, all we can say is, Its good to be home.

Ill finish with some concluding comments in a final installment.

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