On the plane, Paul commented that already it was as though the day before, at work, was a distant memory. To me, it felt like it never even happened. But we weren’t at our destination just yet.
The journey from Connecticut to Mérida was uneventful, but still tiring and tedious. We were surprised to be so lucky to have booked planes with plenty of empty seats. No lines at LaGuardia check-in, either. The flu epidemic had not created an exodus. We caught a break, and we shouldn’t complain, but in a full day of travel, it’s those final minutes that get you. The second leg of the trip is a two-hour flight from Houston to Mérida. First, we were delayed by a late connecting flight. Later, the 737′s ascent from the rainstorm was slow and turbulent. Later, when we were at cruising speed, I was too spent to read, and neither one of us did more than stare blankly ahead. Finally, we landed. Then we taxied to the gate. We taxied some more. Outside in the dark of night, some runway lights slowly rolled by. When would we get to the gate? Eventually, the seatbelt lights were turned off and the passengers all sprung up. Most of us grabbed our baggage, fully aware that we would have to wait for the plane’s door to open. So it wasn’t just us who had become impatient, verging on unreasonable. Somewhere between one minute and one hour later (I could no longer tell the difference at that point) we were allowed to leave.
A small, welcome shock after 12 hours in what amounts to airport security quarantine: There was a small gap between the plane and the corridor, not only delivering our first breath of fresh air since arriving at LaGuardia, but foreshadowing the Yucatán’s sultry air.
We paid extra for “extra legroom” seats, but to me the other advantage was getting seated at the front of the plane. All the better to be at the front of the line at Immigration. That went swiftly, and then we went on to the luggage claim. One of our bags had fallen over the edge and was trapped behind the conveyer belt. Without a second thought, Paul straddled the belt and lept to the other side. He grabbed the bag, handed it to me, and waited for a gap between others’ bags to leap back. More evidence that we were going to conclude this trek one way or another. We both got the “green light” at customs, which was a blessing. Finally, we went through the double doors and found our driver.
Instantly, it was like the long haul was a distant memory, along with our office desks, our scarves and our gloves.