Posted by scott from 126.96.36.199 (ip68-7-100-95.sd.sd.cox.net) on domingo, septiembre 08, 2002 at 14:00:22 :
It’s Tuesday morning and we wake early. A quick glance out of the balcony shows it to be a clear day that’s guaranteed to be hot. Without much said, both M and I start the job of packing. Because of the many different items we’ve 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 it’s 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 won’t 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 don’t 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 don’t 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 it’s 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 can’t 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 there’s another that’s even better than the last, so I buy it as well. What keeps me from buying more is that I’ve 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 café, of course, not a soul is at the pool. It’s 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 (who’s name I have shamefully forgotten) is very friendly and a bit bored because there’s 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, he’s 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 JJ’s 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 wasn’t for family back home, and the responsibility that comes with working for somebody else, we’d 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 we’ve accumulated over the past 7 days, putting on the credit card. Thanks are given all around, we’re 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 we’re 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 don’t look anything like the security we’re used to seeing in the States. Within no time, we’re checked-in, and settling down in chairs for the wait prior to being allowed into the departure area. It’s 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. We’re 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, it’s almost as warm. They’ve 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 isn’t full, and so we load quickly. Within minutes of taking off, J’s head is on the pillow and he’s asleep. He’ll 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 he’s going to school. J is typically shy around strangers and requires a little prompting, but the man seems satisfied that we’re not smuggling a child in from a foreign country and we’re 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 I’ve 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 we’re allowed to continue. The backpack in question goes everywhere with M and so I wonder what strange and possibly illegal aromas it’s 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, we’re booked standby for the 8 pm flight home. Sure enough, as they start boarding, we’re told that our checked bags have been delivered and we’re able to leave now. I have just enough time to call home on the cel to let my parents know that we’re 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 we’re going to “fly upside down now”, audible gasps come from seats in front of us. But given the ride, it wasn’t 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 doesn’t 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, “It’s good to be home.”
I’ll finish with some concluding comments in a final installment.
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