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Published: March 14th 2010
Setting off for Mexico I knew I was in for a long trip... but I hadn't counted on it being quite this long!! I arrived at Heathrow three hours before my flight but eventually was settled into my seat ready for the longest leg of my journey. The flight was probably the best I've ever had since only half the seats were filled and I had a row of three seats all to myself. Ten and half hours later we arrived in Housten, a bit later then predicted. I wasn't worried about having only an hour to make my next flight, after all my luggage was automatically moved and I only had to get through security and to the right gate. Right! Instead I found myself stuck in a massive queue for immigration, lost amongst a large party of Japanese tourists and then urgently hurrying towards my gate. I arrived in Terminal E and looked for my gate number only to be told I should be in Terminal B. I ran down the long corridors, hopped onto the train and arrived in Terminal B. I saw my flight listed, people waiting on the chairs, and the door shut. Obviously they hadn't
started boarding yet. I heaved a sigh of relief and walked to the desk to show my details. The man looked at my flight number, frowned, then turned to watch a plane outside the window start to move away.
'Is that your plane?'
'What? I don't know, I've just run all the way here, the flight's still listed!' We both glanced up to see the board change from Guadalajara to somewhere else.
The man took pity of me and sent me over to the information desk. The woman told me there were no more flights until 6pm but sent me off with a porter to ask somewhere else. I trailed along behind the porter to another desk where the woman looked confused, told me there was another flight at 6 and sent me back to the information desk where they said there 'might be an available seat' for me on the next flight but I'd have to wait until 10 minutes before it departed before I'd know. Realising my only option was to wait I tried to call Mexico to let the school know about the change of plans. Fishing my mobile out of my bag I found I
had no signal and set about tracking down a public phone, no easy task in an airport seemingly built to resemble a rabbit warren, all long corridors leading to dead ends and everywhere looking the same!
Four stressful hours later I was told there was no space for me on the 6 'o' clock flght and the next one departed at 9.30pm. Worried about arriving in a strange Mexican city in the middle of the night with no address to go to I asked if I could fly the following morning instead. Having left home 21 hours ago and running up and down corridors for hours I must have looked a pitiful sight as the woman at the information desk was very sympathetic. In fact I would like to nominate the staff at Housten airport for sainthood. They gave me tickets for a 9am flight, helped me book a hotel with a discount for delayed flights and sent me down to reclaim my luggage. At baggage reclaim I was advised to leave my suitcase to save time checking it in again the next morning and was presented with a complimentary overnight bag including everything I could possibly need overnight... well excepting pyjamas but that would be a bit too god to be true! A taxi picked me up and delivered me to Spring Hill Suites where I incredibly found myself with a huge suite, double bed, flat screen TV, coffee machine and microwave and free tea and coffee supplies.
I woke this morning feeling far more relaxed and wandered downstairs for my complementary breakfast, made use of the free internet and took the free shuttle back to the airport.
My second attempt to fl to Mexico went without a hitch and I was soon arriving in Guadalajara. I found a taxi stand just in front of the exit, took a deep breath and used my first Spanish of the trip. I took a taxi to the bus station, got my ticket to Zamora and managed to find the right bus. I was surprised by the sheer luxury of the 1st class bus, but made a fool of myself trying to refuse the free drink and sandwich offered to all passengers because I thought they were trying to sell them. I enjoyed the bus ride and watched the scenery roll past the window until eventually we reached Zamora. I managed to buy my ticket to Sahuayo although ha to ask at three different desks before I found the right one. The second bus was equally comfortable although I spent the latter part of the trip worrying how I would know when I rached Sahuayo, especially when I noticed the bus stopping on unmarked streets in small towns. I asked the guy I was sitting next to if we were near Sahuayo. Julio turned out to be Mexican-American and chated to me in English before getting off in Sahuayo with me. He lent me his mobile to call the school and when I reeived no answer, escorted me to a shop and helped me buy a phone card to operate the public phones. He left me back at the bus stop with his mobile number in case I should find myself completely stranded. After numerous attempts I finally got through to the director who assured me the principal of the school would soon be along to pick me up. I waited; and waited. I was approached by a taxi driver who was evidently keen to take me somewhere or other. When I insisted I was waiting for someone we fell into conversation in a broken mix of Englsh and Spanish and sign language. I tried to call the school again, and again, and then my card ran out of money. I waited some more and just as I was thinking I'd have to drag my suitcase back to the shop to purchase another phone card Colin, one of the other teachers arrived to claim me! I was very relieved to finally have somewhere to go as being left on the streets with all my luggage for over an hour was getting a little tiring to say the least!
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