The pilot welcomed everyone on board, said a couple of pleasantries, then declared, "We will be taking off in just a few minutes for our destination..."
And stopped. Silence. For a few seconds. Then he piped up, "Queratero," butchering the word.
Passengers - many fluent in Spanish and aware of the wild mispronunciation - tittered and laughed. Did he not know where we were going? Did he not remember? Was it too difficult to learn the correct pronunciation of the place he was about to visit, if only for a short time?
I figured as long as he had navigational aids, we were good to go. It was 7:00 p.m., and hub and I had been traveling since 8:00 a.m. that morning.
Our trip began with breakfast at a local cafe. Eager to leave the house in good order and not waste time cooking and cleaning, our kitchen closed the evening before.
An hour's drive to the airport followed, luckily uneventful. Entering an eerily empty airline terminal and checking our bags, we were informed the charge would be $25 for each piece. Hub raised his eyebrows, scowled, and stated testily. "I didn't think we had to pay for luggage."
"Well, you do," the unsmiling customer service rep replied.
We did not pay for checked luggage on US Airways. With their merger with American Airlines we now pay. Score Won for Corporate America, Additional Costs for Consumers.
We packed two suitcases. I piped up, "I'll take this bag with me," and walked off with the carry-on-sized bag.
Security was a quick walk-through. Locating our gate, we immediately plunked ourselves down in cushy seats in a pub next door, ordered drinks (non-alcoholic, of course - it was still morning), and did what everyone does while waiting anywhere for anything nowadays - whisk out electronic devices and do...something. I checked emails, the news headlines, Facebook. The wonders of a Smartphone!
Our flight would be boarding soon. It was full, an announcer stated, and therefore cabin storage space limited. If anyone wanted to check their bag through to their destination there would be no charge.
I immediately walked up to the desk. The attendant checked my bag. No charge.
Score one for the consumer.
The first leg of our air journey, Philadelphia to Dallas/Fort Worth, lasted 3-1/2 hours. Following a long layover and a second two hour flight, we landed in Queretaro, Mexico, exited customs and officially entered Mexico. A van driver holding a sign with our names on it greeted us.
Our van co-passengers were ex-pats living in San Miguel de Allende, our final destination, an 1-1/2 drive from the airport. All Americans, all originally from the West (California and Arizona), all loved their adopted city, offering suggestions on places to visit, favorite cafes and restaurants, best places to shop. I wish I hadn't been so tired; I would have absorbed more of their valuable input.
Our long, exhausting trip finally ended upon arrival at our vacation rental at 1:00 a.m., exhausted and barely able to walk straight.
But our San Miguel de Allende adventure was about to begin.
Greetings from the backyard of our temporary home.