Sunday, December 28, 2008

My Great Christmas Adventure Part Two

As I left you on my prior post, I was preparing to board my bus for Cancun...............

Down the ramp to where all the buses wait, and I checked my suitcase at the rear of the bus and found my seat, which wasn't hard to do since it was right behind the driver. I had two apples, a couple of granola bars, a motion sickness pill and half a valium. Considering I had just feasted on Tinkies and pretend Starbucks coffee, I was good to go and ready for a long night's sleep.

The seat next to me was empty for a long time, and just when I thought I would be able to stretch out a bit, here came two giants onto the bus. A hundred bucks says they are basketball players from somewhere. One sat by the window directly across from me, and the other, bigger one (of course) took the aisle seat next to me. So much for extra leg room. The two of them started talking in Spanish to the bus driver, and the next thing I knew the one next to me got out of the bus. I immediately move the armrest up and get ready to stretch out. The bus pulls out of the station. This isn't so bad after all. Before we get out of the bus compound, the bus stops and we pick the guy up again. Down with the armrest. I have no idea what the situation was, but he was definitely back in the seat.

I put my pillow to the window and dozed off into dreamland. The gentle rocking of the bus damned near puts you to sleep on its own. It's dark, there are no crying babies, there's no scenery to look at, and you know you have four hours until you hit the one stop, Playa del Carmen. Nighty night. I must have awakened when the bus turned off the main highway onto the side road. I now noticed that the huge basketball player sitting next to me had fallen asleep as well, but his mouth was wide open and his head was on my headrest!!! Best not to move until the bus stops and he wakes up.

When we stop at Playa del Carmen and Mr. Basketball awakens from his slumber, I jump out of the bus and run for the "banos gratis" and relieve myself of the two pretend coffee drinks I had in Chetumal. Time for a quick smoke. I am standing about twenty feet from the bus and the door closes.....I hear the familiar "swoosh" of the air brakes. HEY! HEY! WAIT! WAIT! I am pounding on the doors unti the driver lets me in. Whew, a near mishap.

Forty minutes later we arrive at the Cancun bus station. It is 4:00 am. Not a lot going on at the Cancun bus station at that hour. I buy a $4.00 US bus ticket to the Cancun airport, because I just haven't had my fill of bus riding yet, and somehow it just doesnt seem right to get into a taxi at 4:00 am in a country where you can barely speak the language. The bus will take me directly to the Cancun airport. It departs at 4:31 am. Yes, that's correct. Where do they come up with these times? Not 4:30, not 4:25, but 4:31. Amazing. Once again, I check my suitcase in the back of the bus and settle into my seat. A little further back this time but I really don't care as it's only a 25 minute ride to the airport, and according to my calculations, that puts me at the Cancun airport at 4:56 am. I walk inside with my luggage and see about thirty empty ticket couners, all of which are Mexican airlines. Hmm.. I try to walk further down the hallway but am promptly told in Spanish that I am not allowed down there. At this point, all I can think to say to the man is USAir. He tells me I need to go to Terminal 3, and I am currently at Terminal 2. Great. I scour my brains for the appropriate way to ask in Spanish how in the hell do I get to Terminal 3, when suddenly, outside, I see a beacon! A tall pole that says, in English no less, "Shuttle to Terminal 3, Leaves every 20 minutes". Now based on the number of minutes I was in Terminal 2 looking for an airline that doesnt exist there, I had about five minutes to catch the shuttle over to the proper Terminal.

Another bus ride, but this one was more like a giant van. My nearly empty suitcase goes into the back and the six of us sleepily made our way inside to seats and were silent for the ten minute ride over to Terminal 3.

Inside Terminal 3 I saw familiar airline ticket counters with names I knew, American, Delta, NorthWest, and blanks. Yes, blanks. Apparently when the ticket counter employees come in to work, they turn on their little LED screens and then you know where to go. There was a long line at the American Airlines ticket counter, and no one else. Well, now it was time for me to sit down and try not to fall into a comatose slumber while I am waiting for the USAir employees to come to work.

Great plan with a major flaw. There are no seats. None. Anywhere. Hmm, this requires some more thought. I go outside with my luggage to smoke a cigarette. Still no USAir people. I am still booked on a 2:45 pm flight out of Cancun, and my goal is to get the nice people at USAir to let me book an earlier flight to cut down my waiting time inside the airport fronm five hours instead of eight and a half. Since passengers are supposed to arrive two hours ahead of departure time and the early flight leaves at 11:00, one would think that the USAir employees would be at their posts ready to check people in at 8:30. One would be incorrect.

Somewhere around 7:00 am a restaurant opens up. They serve breakfast and they have wireless internet. Another win win situation for me. Sine my Mexican phone card has now been used up and I have no way to communicate my whereabouts to the free world, I take the bait. It's a chair, a hard backed chair with a tiny cushion, but it's still a chair. I sit down and order a ham and cheese croissant and the password for the wireless internet. The croissant comes. It was 90% croissant, a piece of ham and a bit of eggs. I pull off the giant croissant and eat the ham and eggs. Fifteen minutes later, the password still doesnt work. I ate a few of the french fries. Why french fries? I have no idea. The internet password never did work so I gave up.

An hour or so later, after walking outside several times, and back in, and back out, I notice that the Haagen Das Ice Cream employees have come in. There are chairs there. Like prime pieces of real estate, I eye one longingly. Where were the Starbucks people? They should be here already! They sell coffee for crying out loud. They should be there already!!!!! I see that the employees at Haagen Das have taken a few of their chairs off the tables. I notice a woman leaning on her suitcase and dozing, so I proceeded to do the same. Not so fast little lady! After about fifteen minutes one of the employees comes and asks me if I have placed my order. Placed my order? Are you kidding me? For ice cream? It's 7:30 in the morning! After she busted both of us, she told us that these chairs were for paying customers only. CUSTOMERS ONLY? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? In case you havent noticed, there are no customers!!! There are only five or ten people all in the same boat we are in. Who was actually going to order ice cream at this ridiculous hour...and where the hell are the Starbucks people???? We finally relented and gave up our seats for the undoubted onslaught of potential ice cream eaters that were going to show up any minute.

So we stood. We stood at the little counter where people fill out their travel documents. We stood by a pole, taking turns holding on to it. At 8:45 am there were still no USAir employees present. The airport man did begin to move the posts to create the maze we would all have to walk through, so it did look promising. By now there several people there waiting to check in for the 11:00 am flight. I chatted with the woman who had been thrown out of Haagen Das with me. She actually lives in Belize but was headed home to Michigan for the holidays. We talked about how cold we both were just thinking about going north. I took my suitcase into the handicapped stall and changed into a pair of jeans and crocs with socks. I had a sweatshirt. I was good to go.

The airport man finally let us into the maze, even though at 9:15 there were still no employees there. ARENT WE SUPPOSED TO BE HERE TWO HOURS BEFORE OUR FLIGHT??? Finally, one lonely man appearted behind the counter.

I was actually third in line so gigured my chances of geting waited on were pretty good. I was able to change my flight for a little over $50 US. Of course, I had to go stand in another line to pay. Luckily, one of the additional two employees to show up was the cashier.

Free of my luggage, I practically flew up the stairs to my gate. There were hundreds of chairs there, and I promptly put my ass in one of them. Then I remembered that I had to find out about my ride from the Indy airport, and to let Renita know that I had not been taken hostage by airport security. I ordered a Coke and an internet password at Margaritaville and tipped the guy $2 just for getting the password right.

A stop at the duty free shop for cigarettes and I was on my way.

1 comment:

Carbunkle Trumpet said...

Cindy this sounds so much like the movie "Planes, Trains and Automobiles"
I look forward to the rest of the trip.