Let’s discuss why you want to decorate the hell out of you luggage… because people do not pay attention! The pilot gift at Balloon Fiesta one year was a rolling carry on size suitcase, black with AIBF artwork embroidered on the front. We were one of 650+/- pilots that received these, so it’s safe to say at some point we might be traveling with someone with the same suitcase 😬 Our FIG bus to GTO, the Bajío airport was the day. I didn’t think much of it when we left our suitcases with the porter, I didn’t even think much of it as we exited the bus to retrieve our suitcases until… I reached for the black carry on with the embroidery of the front, not noticing the absence of my signature ribbons & our balloon sticky on the front.
What I did immediately notice was how light the wrong suitcase was, because mine was heavy as Ffffff… Only then did I notice the lack of identifying bits I adorn all our suitcases with much to Dave’s chagrin & this would be why! Panic set in pretty quickly. I called my girlfriend who was already gate-side & asked her to be on the lookout as I headed to security. Dave stayed back at the ticket counter scouring the crowd. Just as I was about to hand the guard my passport, Dave called & said he had the bag 💼 PTL 😇 Dave just happened to notice a Brazilian pilot at the counter looking confused as he lifted a way heavier bag than he expected 😬 Once again, crisis averted, well this one…
On to security, where we would discover that a metal comb apparently could somehow be used as a weapon so that got confiscated along with our channel lock pliers… Why do did we have channel lock pliers you ask? Well that would be because I brought a shower head with us 🚿 Yes, you read that correctly, a shower head. A shower head, channel lock pliers & plumbers tape. In nearly every bathroom we replace the shower head for our time there. Why, because I want what I want & I want descent water pressure! (The shower head has no flow restrictor on it, btw.) So, channel lock pliers confiscated because they should have been in a check bag, with that I can agree, metal hair comb, not so much. Not nearly a crisis, but certainly an annoyance 😣
On we went, we caught our flight to Mexico City after a lovely chat with friends in the airport. We landed without issue, we tried to rebook on an earlier flight but because we had checked bags, we had no joy. So we found a place for dinner, then settled into a spot near an outlet to watch Netflix for our 6 hour layover.
We finally boarded our flight around 730/8pm. It was going to be a late night. I had already informed our Airbnb host that we would not be getting in until after midnight, he recommended a driver to pick us up at the airport & we seemed to have all in hand. Little did we know the adventure to come….
We arrived on time into Merida, Yucatán, collected our bags & headed out to find our ride. My first clue for concern should have been the vague WhatsApp message that the guy I had been expecting was sending another guy. A young guy pulled up in a car I wasn’t sure would hold all our luggage but it did. We were loaded up & ready to roll when two police officers joined us as the car. My second clue should have been when our young driver asked if we spoke Spanish. Our reply as usual, “Un poco.” He then said to us in Spanish that we were amigos, si.? Si.? We then spent the next 20 minutes going round & round in Spanish, broken English & Google translate with the police officers. The officers were very nice, they were clearly trying to be both understanding & impart information to us, at no point did we feel unsafe or threatened in any way. So as it turns out, only licensed taxis are allowed to pick up at the airport & post Covid, Merida & most of Yucatán has continued to enforce a strict curfew & general licensing of other, non taxi drivers. Apparently our young man & us were breaking all kinds of rules 🤷🏼♀️ Long story longer & this is only the half of it…. we got out of the car & unloaded our bags. We were told by the police & our young amigo that we should walk to the corner & he would circle back around for us. 3rd clue!? We walked, we waited, we saw him drive by & on… I called him & asked if he was coming back for us, he said no. 🤦🏼♀️ It is now 1am 🕐 We walked back to the airport. I opened my Uber app & picked a new driver. $650mxn. Just to cover our bases, I asked a taxi driver their coast, $950mxn. Save $15usd, sure. So off we walked to our pick up spot, clue #4. As we stood on airport property, the taxi driver drove around to us & said he would take us for $650mxn & explained again that non licensed taxis were not allowed to pick up at the airport.
Have you ever heard that one about the guy who was waiting for God to save him in a flood? When the water was low, a truck came by, when the water got higher a boat came by, as the man sat on his roof along came a helicopter 🚁 All asked to help him & take him to safety, but alas his response was always God will save me… he drowns & goes to heaven, where he meets God & asks, why didn’t you save me? God says, “what do you think the truck, the boat & the helicopter were for?” 😬😉🤣
Nope, taxi-man, we got this! But just in case, we walked out to the main road & waited for our Uber. Uber stupid. Our second driver arrived, we loaded our bags, we got in the car, we almost got away & then 🚨 Poor Dave had held it together but was now at the end of his rope. The police were very nice & with little to no conversation, we got our bags & headed back to the airport. As I write this, I chuckle because it is as laughable now as it was then. Some how, some way we seem to keep our shit together 😝 Our $650mxn taxi-man was gone as was the offer. At 2:30am & $950mxn later, we were finally headed to our apartment in Progreso.
We arrived about 3:30am, still fully hyped on adrenaline 😳 After a little unpacking to calm us down, we headed to bed for the few short hours before Dave had to be up for work 💻 The next day, I would clean the kitchen & try to find & kill the giant cockroach 🪳 I had seen the night before but was too exhausted to care about. That of course, is another story, for another time, maybe next time….