I was supposed to be in Oaxaca, Mexico, yesterday. I arrived today. My luggage did not. For those of you who may wish to travel to Oaxaca or another similarly distant land at some point in the future, allow me offer up a few lessons learned:
- The Portland airport is surprisingly active at 4:30 am, or at least it appears so to someone operating on four hours of sleep who is usually not out of bed before 8:00 am. Had I been more alert, it would have made an interesting anthropological study.
- When the captain tells you that your 6:00 am flight has been canceled because “flight essential parts” are not functioning, be glad they didn’t just try to “wing it and fly anyway.” This is not like the check engine light coming on in your car (yes, I have been ignoring mine for several months now.) Get off the plane and get in line to be re-routed.
- Two hours is not an unreasonable amount of time to wait to be rerouted. Do not try calling the airline while you wait in line – they may ask you to complete a survey before helping you, and you may just say negative things out loud which cause other passengers in line to stare at you. Be nice to the people around you. They have your luggage. Just read your book, and be glad that there is a Powell’s Books and multiple coffee shops in the Portland airport. Do not be surprised, however, if you are attacked (quite accidentally) by a viola while waiting in line.
- When forced to stay overnight in Mexico City without your bags on the airline’s dime, make sure they take you somewhere nice, and give you meal vouchers good at the same hotel where they are putting you up. Or rather, make sure you ride in a van with people who will insist on being taken somewhere nice and being given meal vouchers good at that same nice place.
- Do not be surprised when, upon arriving in Oaxaca after having been routed through four different airlines, they cannot find your luggage. Remember, it is bad form to break down sobbing in small international airports. And even though you were a bit short-tempered on the phone, and did insist on meal vouchers, it is very unlikely that anyone is actually out to get you.
- Young men will flirt. Even if you are old enough to be their mother, and have been wearing the same grungy travel clothes for over 36 hours, they will flirt. You are paying to ride in their taxi, and they will flirt with you. The weather is amazing, you made it one piece, and the hotel kept your reservation, so go ahead and smile.