The Tao of Travel

I was actually going to call this the yin and yang of travel, but the Tao of Travel sounds so much more svelte, dontcha think?

I know you kids like pretty and irrelevant pictures. I'm just doing my part to keep you happy.

I know you kids like pretty and irrelevant pictures. I'm just doing my part to keep you happy.

I once had (and probably still have in a box somewhere) some book called the Tao of Pooh and then the Te of Piglet – they came together – that I swear I bought because the titles were so damn clever. But I never really read the original Winnie the Pooh stuff, so the point was kind of lost on me.

At least that’s my excuse. As much as I think it would be cool to be a deep and enlightened spiritual guru, I tend to find that kind of reading crazy boring.

Anywho, due to my posting snafu on Wednesday and my icky tummy on Thursday, I am now a bit behind in terms of timeline. In other words, here are my thoughts and reflections from my journey back to the USA, which technically happened a couple days ago, not that I’m CNN or something such that it actually matters that you get my news in a timely fashion.

Today is a four-flight day.

Four flights, in my humble opinion, are four flights too many. First off, flying always makes me feel slightly pukey. I have never actually thrown up on a plane, but I always like to do an equipment check when I first get into my seat and confirm that there is, indeed, a barf bag. One can never be too careful.



So anyway, I get onto my first flight du jour – Acapulco to Mexico City – and I have an aisle seat. This is good because I do NOT have a barf bag. In addition, as I get there, I see that the female half of the older couple in the middle and window spots has loaded a serious stash of stuff in my chair.

I took four years of college Spanish (including literature and conversational classes the last year), but you would not know that. Lack of practice and systematic destruction of brain cells via adult beverages has rendered me super rusty and overly hesitant. Anyway, and perhaps because of this, the lady was incredibly snotty when I explained in my broken Spanish that it was my seat. In response, she sort of angrily dashed all her bags and purses and knicknacks onto the floor…and onto my legs.


Was it something I said?

I'm not a huge orange juice person, but that looks kinda good.

I'm not a huge orange juice person, but that looks kinda good.

Meanwhile, and not that I particularly cared, but about 20 minutes into the flight, she reached across me and took the magazine in my seat pocket when there was one in hers. In her defense, she drew the line at wrenching the orange juice out of my hands and guzzling it in a single chug-a-lug, so at least there was that.

We landed just 45 minutes after takeoff, and I was reaching down to pull my bag out from under my seat when, without a word, she and her husband proceeded to climb over me like spider monkeys. They hadn’t even dinged the ‘you can take your seatbelts off’ chime yet. Thankfully, both of them were five foot nothing, although the husband did use my flip flopped foot as something of a starting block in his lunge for the aisle.

In this scenario, I was the stick.

In this scenario, I was the stick.

I must have had a WTF? look on my face, because a guy a few rows up started laughing and gave me the (universal?) SOME PEOPLE face, and I felt slightly less like a fish out of water than just an unfortunate traveler sitting next to some jerks.

That was a very inauspicious and yin start to my day.

Wow. That looks awful, and yet...startlingly accurate.

Wow. That looks awful, and yet...startlingly accurate.

Moving on, I ate an overpriced Subway sandwich in Mexico City (if the average Mexican makes $6 or $7 a day – and somebody told me this, and I haven’t researched it, so don’t freak out on me if that’s way off or accidentally insulting – how the hell is it that they don’t even have the $5.00 Footlong deal down there? Seriously, my 6″ meatball sub – $4.00 in the US at the most – was $6.50 in Mexico City. An entire day’s wages! Uncool.) and the flight to Guadalajara was so uneventful that I can’t even quite remember it.

Then came the five and a half-hour layover.

So while in the bathroom, I heard this beautiful acapella (I’ve clearly spelled this wrong, as ironically the spell check is trying to change it to Acapulco) singing. I literally stood there and listened for a minute, and it was so good that I dismissed it as the radio or some kind of pumped-in ambience that I hadn’t previously noticed. Then I enjoyed a different – and equally amazing – song as I washed my hands. When I came out into the hall, I discovered it was the man mopping the floor of the men’s room.

man_mopping_leftSeriously. A tiny little guy who probably weighs less than I do, mopping his heart out and singing.

It’s those moments I wish I was someone of influence who could put him on the next plane to audition for Mexico’s Got Talent (if that exists) or give him a recording contract or something. He was truly incredible.

A couple hours later, still waiting for the Delta counter to open so that I could re-check my luggage, and during another bathroom stop (during a five-hour layover, there’s plenty of time to check out a variety of banos – with and without locking doors, majestic singing, and toilet seats.) I came out and was washing my hands. One of the women cleaning the sink area started talking to me rapidly, and I turned around and explained that I didn’t understand and could she speak more slowly?


I had accidentally trickled the soup from the dispenser on the wall across the floor all the way over to the sink I was using, so I figured she was pissed that I had been so sloppy.

She looked at me for a second, and seemed to be thinking intently. I didn’t know if maybe she was reaching into an ancient archive of English words or was going to slowly annunciate something containing the words ‘jabon’ and ‘idiota’, when she reached behind me and pulled my dress out of the back of my underwear.


Nice.

I never miss an opportunity to flash the natives.

“Lo entiendo!” (THAT I understand!) I told her.

On the up side, I will say it provided quite the laugh for all of us, and – due to my history of accidentally exposing myself while in floaty dresses – I was wearing boy short underwear, so it could have been worse. Also, it was a good excuse to give away my last 10 peso coins without seeming patronizing.


I am totally a form over function/sacrifice comfort for fashion type of person. In other words, I do not own one of these awful things.

I am totally a form over function/sacrifice comfort for fashion type of person. In other words, I do not own one of these awful things.

So throughout my time in the Guadalajara airport, I kept seeing this lady in a sleeping bag coat. You know those giant, down coats appropriate for arctic weather and unexpected camp outs? Well, imagine my joy when I realized she was in line to get on the same flight to Salt Lake City!

I don’t know if she was misinformed, but I kept trying to catch her eye in the hopes of telling her that yes, Salt Lake City can be very cold and is well known for the skiing up at Sundance…but that’s in the WINTER.

I don’t even know how she managed not going into heat stroke. It was at least 90 degrees and 70-something percent humidity, and if the airport has air conditioning going in the main terminal, I sure couldn’t feel it.

It was HOT. I’m the kind of person that needs a sweater in 70-degree weather, so I can sympathize with being cool when others are warm…but a down coat? In mid-July in Mexico?

That’s hard core.

I actually found this on a website for narcolepsy treatment. Narcolepsy has got to suck.

I actually found this on a website for narcolepsy treatment. Narcolepsy has got to suck.

Actually, I could have gone with my own sleeping bag coat simply in that I was super tired. I can do okay on anything exceeding six hours of sleep, and sometimes five is all right. However, when I dip down into the four hours or less range (as I had the night before), I’m pretty much a one-woman reenactment of Dawn of the Dead, and not beyond some mild narcolepsy.

On the other hand, and I wouldn’t exactly call it a phobia, but I have a deep-seated fear of sleeping at the airport. Not because I think anyone is going to mess with me or put a bomb in my bag, but because I realize there is nothing standing between me and my body’s desire to sleep through the entire boarding process. Missing a flight because you were out cold in a chair ten feet from the gate is pretty pathetic.

I don't think this was the issue he was reading...but it may as well have been. If I worked there, I'd just re-use the same stories and copy/paste other names in.

I don't think this was the issue he was reading...but it may as well have been. If I worked there, I'd just re-use the same stories and copy/paste other names in.

Last but not least, on the final leg of the trip, I was treated to a glimpse into the lifestyle of a rare and elusive species: The Hollywood gossip-loving American cowboy.

Yep.

You read right.

I was seated next to a handsome gent in his late 50′s/early 60′s and sporting the whole Wild West getup: boots, belt buckle, dusty jeans, and hat…and he spent the entire flight PORING through the latest issue of The National Enquirer.

I really wanted to strike up a conversation about Jessica Simpson getting dumped or the latest with The Real Housewives, but he wasn’t into it. He had too much hot gossip to devour and not nearly enough time.

In the end, I hate it when people bother me on the plane, so I let him be, but now whenever I see the Marlboro man I’ll be left to wonder if he’s on Team Aniston or Team Jolie and does he think David Carradine accidentally got carried away by some bizarre self-pleasure or was assassinated by a team of yellow jump-suited ninjas?

I, for one, will never look at an armoire the same way again.

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