Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. - Eleanor Roosevelt

Saturday, August 11, 2007

El Retorno and Mexican hospitality

Well, I am back from Mexico. My Dad and I landed in Denver at about 6 o'clock last night after a fairly smooth flight. Though the flight was smooth, getting on it wasn't. We hit a few potholes.

For one thing, our original return date was August 8, and we obviously extended that to yesterday, August 10. The reason why we had to stay was because of my Dad's dental work.

Thanks to my Dad purchasing travel insurance, we were able to change our departure date without any fees, though we did have some trouble proving that the insurance took care of the fees at check-in. That was was just one of the potholes we encountered trying to get home.

We were running a little late, as the dental work wasn't finished until 1 o'clock yesterday afternoon. My Dad had to get a taxi back to the hotel from the doctor's office, pick me up along with our luggage, and head to the airport to catch our 3:25 flight back to Denver.

We hit some major traffic on the way to the airport, and though we reached it late, we still had a bit of time left for check-in and other formalities.

The real trouble started as we were getting out of the taxi and my Dad noticed that we were missing something-- an Aztec calendar we'd purchased in Mexico City. We walked into the airport with my father yelling at me, and me defending myself regarding the Aztec calendar. Much tension was in the air as we made our way through the crowds of people, all seemingly carefree while I felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders.

As we approached the check-in line for Frontier Airlines I noticed a familiar face. It is a long story I plan to write about in my post-travel blog; but we ran into Taccia. Taccia is an airport worker at Guadalajara airport who helped us file a lost luggage report upon our arrival in Guadalajara just 12 days before.

Taccia recognized us and greeted us with a big smile. For a moment, my Dad and I forgot the Aztec calendar and revelled in the coincidence that ultimately turned out to be a miracle. Pointing us in the right direction for check-in, and following her brief examination of our passports and documents, Taccia wished us a happy flight. We stood in line, and the Aztec calendar issue resurfaced. My Dad went back to freaking out, and I suggested we call the hotel to make sure the calendar was there. My father gave me change and told me to hurry up and make the call.

When I'm nervous, I have a hard time doing the simplest things... like locating a payphone in an airport. Taccia was standing by and drawing a major blank in my brain, I went to her for help.

I explained to her the situation, and she immediately asked me to follow her back into a personnel-only room to use a telephone. There were two people working in the tiny room, one man, and one woman. After apologizing profusely for being such trouble, and expressing my appreciation for the permission to use the phone, I made the call to the hotel and found out that the calendar was left behind in the room. Not sure what the next step was, I asked that the calendar be put aside until further notice. I hung up and ran back out to tell my Dad, when I found him to be even more panicked than when I left him.

"Where's the black bag?" he asked urgently, not giving me a chance to tell him about the calendar.

"I don't know," I replied. "I thought you had it."

After a brief silence, a great panic hit me; this time concerning the bag containing not only our laptop computer, but also some important documents and a cellphone. The only thing to do was to make sure that the bag was also in the room, and not left behind in the taxi.

I went to Taccia again, and she told me to go back to the room in the back to make the call. After apologizing even more profusely to the man and woman working in the room, I called and found out that the bag was also left behind in the room. I asked the front desk to put the bag along with the Aztec calendar aside until further notice, and hung up.

I ran back out to tell my Dad about the laptop bag, and he immediately told me to call the hotel again and ask them to send the bag and calendar by taxi to the airport. For the third time I entered the tiny room with the man and woman in it. I was sweaty, nervous and uncomfortable, but was desperate to resolve the issue at hand. I apologized and asked to use the phone again.

"No," the man at the computer said while shaking his head. "You'll have to pay $10."

Great, I thought. I wasn't sure what to say or do, when Taccia appeared behind me.

"Don't pay any attention to him," she said with a smile. "He's just joking."

I laughed nervously but felt great relief. "I'm really very sorry for this," I said for what seemed like the millionth time that day and proceeded toward the phone to make the call.

Taccia helped make the arrangements over the phone with the hotel staff to send the items by taxi to the airport, and the only thing left to battle was time. The items had to get there in 20 minutes.

There was tension in the air to say the least, but thanks to Taccia and other staff members at the Guadalajara airport, everything came through, as everyone was eager to help us get checked in with all our belongings on time.

20 minutes had gone by, and no laptop bag, or Aztec calendar were in sight. I was sure that we were going to leave Mexico without the items and that our that they would be lost forever.

I was standing outside and watching, when finally two men were walking toward me. One was holding the laptop bag and the Aztec calendar, while the other was yelling, "Your things are here!"

After paying the taxi driver $20, tipping him and thanking him profusely, I ran back into the airport to find my Dad to go to our gate and board the plane back home.

We made it on the flight, and ultimately made it home despite some pretty major potholes, thanks to the coincidence of running into Taccia, which resulted in a pretty big miracle that got us home with all our belongs.

As good as it is to be home, I wish I was still in Mexico where most people are just like Taccia. Eager to help with utmost sincerity.

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