a long way home

Before we left, I thought for sure that I would be dying to post something about how much fun we were having in Mexico and look at the beach and water, how exciting. It turns out that once actually in Mexico, I’d much rather experience it than right about it. That, and it would have cost money to get on the internet and the wireless connection didn’t reach all the way to beach or even our room for that matter. I know, my life seems horribly difficult with those types of issues to deal with. It ranks right up there with trying to decide if I would rather have a margarita or pina colada brought to me as I lay by a pool in the Caribbean sun.

I’m still in a little bit of denial that I’m no longer in Mexico and I’m hoping if I talk about the trip home, it will help a little. (I realize this is backwards, talking about coming back before I even tell you about the vacation itself, but bear with me. I’ll get there.)

When we were looking at return flights to get back to Denver, we had a few options. One of those options got us back into the airport a little before 2pm local time on Sunday and this sounded like a great idea. We could have some time to relax at home and get things up and running again before taking on the work week Monday morning.

Cancun is on Central time, so we actually gained an hour in traveling. A layover in Dallas to clear customs and we flew out in the morning at 7:30 am. That sounded fine – it would get us up and going in the morning. So, we booked it.

If you account for two hours before the flight and an hour to drive to Cancun from where we were staying, that 7:30 am flight means leaving the hotel at 4:30 am. That doesn’t sound so fine anymore. Let’s face it – when a large part of your vacation involves making sure you wake up to turn over so you don’t sunburn your back from lying out too long, the concept of 4:30 in the morning just doesn’t seem possible. It’s like a bad dream or a nasty rumor. 4:30 in the morning means you had a late night out – all-night parties will still be going for at least another hour at that point.

When we flew in, we only had transportation arranged for the trip down to our hotel. Four of us flew down together and we returned as couples separately. The website reservations don’t really allow for that so we went with a one-way transfer and ended up filling out a little card in the van and paying cash for our return trip.

Run that back in your head once or twice – we filled out a little card that asked someone to pick us up at a hotel at 4:30 in the morning and handed over cash in a foreign country. All I could think as we carried our bags out to the front desk was that I really don’t want to pay a taxi to drive us to airport. Outside the front door in the dark was a van and the same driver we had on the way down, waiting for us. That guy is ok in my book.

We got to the airport, checked in, grabbed some breakfast, got on a plane, and flew to Dallas. No problemo. In order to clear customs, they give your checked luggage back to you in a special section of the airport. We showed a man our passports, he welcomed us back into the country, and we proceeded in an orderly fashion to the luggage carousel and waited.

And waited.

When the two Indian guys who watch that section of the airport get up and look at the information on the screens and talk excitedly in a language you can’t even pick up separate words from, there is a good bet something is off. And when a garbled voice comes over the intercom and tells you that the luggage is delayed because the cargo door of the airplane is stuck, something is very wrong. And our bags finally started coming.

We grabbed our luggage and took it through customs. I had my form stating I was bringing approximately nothing back that we didn’t take with and I hadn’t been around animals and I’m not a fruit smuggler. The man looked at us, asked if we had all our luggage, and waived us through. That’s how honest and trustworthy we look.

We handed off our bags together to a guy by a conveyor belt and went to security to get back into the airport. In Denver, they glance at your boarding pass and ID and wave you through. Dallas is a little tighter – a man at a podium took our passports and boarding passes. He examined a few pages with a black light and looked at all the dates. He looked at the pictures and looked at us and back at the pictures and back at us. He highlighted some information on the boarding passes and checked everything one final time before we were passed through. I thought the security line was going to take five minutes. It took more like 40. I didn't feel any safer.

So with 25 minutes left of an almost two hour layover, we needed to get to our gate. Luckily, it was nowhere near the security checkpoint and we had some walking to do. Good thing I looked at a map of the airport before we got in and knew that if we walked to the right and kept going long enough we would get a skyway to another concourse that would take us right to the gate. And that skyway was located just through the bathroom at the back of a dead-end hallway. There was no skyway in the direction I chose.

So we backtracked. Fast.

Rhiannon was wearing her oh-so-cute and really-not-good-for-walking-fast flip-flops and had a look on her face that said she was somewhere between wanting to hurt me and wanting to collapse if only her calf wasn’t so close to cramping up. We made it at least three whole minutes before they closed the doors to the plane. No problem.

Back in Denver (I never realized how nice it is to be in a familiar airport), we walked to the baggage claim area. Rhiannon’s bag was the third one up and we grabbed it. And waited. And I made a joke how it figures that when you have two bags, one is always first and one is always last. Ha ha.

And we waited. People around us were collecting their all their luggage and leaving the area. Rhiannon went to get some food and I stayed to wait for the last bag. Then the bags stopped coming up to the conveyor and there were only six people left standing around. When a man with an airline uniform came and found out we were all waiting for bags from the same flight, he nodded, looked at the information board, and asked us all to come to an office.

Later, Rhiannon mentioned as we backed out she saw a cart with bags on it sitting beside the plane. My bag was dropped off at our house around 9:30 last night, approximately 19 hours after it left the hotel yesterday morning. At least I got a complimentary can of Ginger Ale and an in-flight movie. It got left sitting on the tarmac.

Welcome home.