My Mexican Re-Entry
By Chuck Pattinian
After driving 14 years from upstate New York to Ajijic each year, my wife, Carol, and I, decided to fly this year. Our first mistake was not to filter the dis-information about flying. “Get to the airport at least three hours before the flight.” We did and spent two and half hours in the departure lounge. No one was flying from Buffalo, NY that day.
“Make sure your baggage weighs below 50 pounds or you’ll pay a penalty.” Our baggage was 2.5 pounds over. They waved us through without a glance; we must have been within the senior citizen’s baggage allowance. Our luggage was bulging at the seams with their zippers showing their teeth. When we used to drive our car was packed so tight you couldn’t find room for a paperclip. In those days we told the world we were materialistic. Now that we are flying, the world sees us as two cheap tourists trying to squeeze the last sock into our luggage to beat the over limit weight charge.
“They won’t let you take your water into the departure area.” The four ounces of purified water I was sucking on was confiscated before I could go through security. Did they really think I was drinking some chemical bomb liquid? Twenty feet from the end of the security line, a store was selling identical water as the one snatched from my hands but five times more expensive.
“Sandwiches and snacks are available for sale on all flights.” We didn’t see a sandwich or a peanut on any of the planes. However, I did see a 12 inch Subway sandwich being devoured by a fire hydrant-sized passenger spread across seats 14 A and B. He had a Chicago Bear’s blanket draped over his sandwich to conceal his meal. Anyone could see by the crumbs at his feet that he was cheating. None of our flights provided blankets, pillows or movies. If the airlines are trying to save money by eliminating these services, why is there the same number of attendants? Of course, Homeland Security and union contract agreements.
The next morning we re-entered Mexico. We were greeted with the normalcy and consistency of the village we call home. We saw a burro sharing a parking lot with a new Mercedes. It took us two tries to get most things done. Strangers still smiled, waved and said, “Buenos Dias.” The mountains were emerald green but the lake was struggling. The crimson skies at night are the best kaleidoscope in the world. The old local roof dog on Revolution seemed fatter and slower. The roosters in town were still up at 5 am crooning out their territory. The firecrackers (cohetes) continue to go off during the day to tell the world, sound takes precedent over illumination in our area. The mail delivery has improved, it now averages four weeks to get here from the states, but it’s in one piece and unopened. The din from the Libramiento remains but I’m able to quiet it by removing my hearing aids. The blessing is I can’t hear the traffic; the curse is my wife has to repeat herself several times.
Yesterday we found a medical electronic repair shop in Guadalajara that the local medical establishment said did not exist. When we found the shop after three hours, we high-fived ourselves and realized we’ve integrated into the life down here. I discovered that my Spanish upon re-entry was grade 3; I should be up to usual grade 7 in a week. I’m still in love with Mexico.