It was just a connection in Mexico City.
We had started the day by waking up at 3 a.m., riding a bus from the parking lot to the terminal, a 2-hour flight time followed by immigration control. By the time that was all done, we were exhausted, hungry, and to put it crassly, we all had to pee.
A travel credit card with benefits gave us access to the Aeroméxico lounge. The agent reviewed our credentials and our flight information and welcomed us in. And that, my friends, is where our day took a turn.
But first, let me rewind.
Several months ago, I got a killer deal on Scott’s Cheap Flights for airfare from Houston to Huatulco, Mexico. Where’s Huatulco? I had no clue, but it sounded like a great deal, so I searched for a Google image. Peachy sand, protected bays, and ample underwater life almost sealed the deal. I had one more check - “is Huatulco safe,” I asked Google. Yup, Google said.
You may already know this, but U.S. law requires an airline to either give a customer the option to hold a flight for 24 hours or cancel within that time. This is handy when you see a great deal. Buy and then talk to your travel partner. I’ve only pulled the trigger a few times without asking Bill, but we’ve never canceled. If it’s that good of a deal, we are likely both good with it.
So, it was a good deal, and Huatulco looked beautiful and safe. There was another wrinkle. I live in Dallas, 3.5 hours away from Houston, the departure city. Eh. I booked it.
I called our good friend, Steve, and asked if we could pay him and his husband, Ron, a visit in March. We had a couple of days on the front end of Spring Break and decided to make a weekend of it.
Now let’s fast forward to the day before we were supposed to leave for Houston. We were 90% packed and ready (in our minds).
If you’ve ever taken a road trip, you know it’s the last 10% of packing that will kill you. It’s just like packing and moving in that sense. An airplane trip is different; you are confined by the size of the bag and time. The airline waits for no one, save for crew and maintenance.
These constraints are very much loosened on a road trip. They are still there – you have limited cargo space and you eventually will have to deal with time – but a quick trip to Harbor Freight can get you a hitch and a cargo extension and your departure time can be postponed.
Hours later, on the eve of March 12th, we finally got to Steve and Ron’s house. Ron made us a delicious meal and we had a fun evening catching up.
The next day, Steve, knowing me well, suggested that we meet their neighbor. Kim Clark Renteria is a glass artist and her studio is across the street behind her house. I love art and learning about how the sausage is made, so I loved meeting Kim and touring her studio.
She and I talked so long that everyone else walked across the street and left me there. Even Kim’s 22-year-old cat, Twang, left and went to Steve and Ron’s.
As art and a good conversation can do, I walked back across the street feeling reinvigorated. Ron, who is a very talented singer, songwriter, and storyteller, capped off a perfect day with a sing-a-long.
We were off to bed by 10 because we had that 3 a.m. wake-up call that I mentioned at the beginning.
This brings me back to the next day in Mexico City.
We stayed mere minutes in the lounge and headed down to our gate. Somewhere along the way, the gate changed, and we passed our old gate and headed to the new gate. Finding gates at Mexico City’s airport is no easy feat. In fact, I think the Mexico City airport architects and airport personnel conspired to make a structure full of long ramps and incongruous gate numbering for shits and giggles.
As we approached the gate, the customer agent informed us that we were “too late” for the flight. It was 20-some minutes before the flight and she was scanning four adults in line in front of us. “Why do they get to go on and we don’t,” I asked. “Because they are processed.”
They were in-process, not processed.
“But we have little kids that have been up all day and just walked really far to get to this gate,” Bill tried. Our begging got us nowhere and before we knew it, we were in a very long line for customer service with several other passengers from our plane that didn’t make it either.
And that brings us to the next article, where I will NOT tell you what to do in Huatulco (yet!), but I will instead tell you “What to Do with 24 Hours in Mexico City.”