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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

Heart of Lightness

How can I tell you about Yucatan?

I feel that I must. I’m like that forty-five year old woman with her hair in curlers as big as spent toilet tissue rolls, with a tarp of a kerchief stretched from ear to ear over the tubes like a bivouac. She’s holding a sponge mop and freighted with gossip and looking for victims in the neighborhood. I have to tell you about Yucatan.

I’d never been to Mexico. I went to Guatemala a lifetime ago. I was a teenager, and broke free of my traces and wandered loose from the shafts of my supervision. I hitchhiked across the country with fifty dollars and a machete. I walked under a towering waterfall hidden in a sylvan glade on a bet. The water pounded the rocks below, and the fool gingerly making his way across them, with all the force of a river making its way to the sea.  But I got the money and huzzahs from men who wondered if the gringo child was made of cotton candy or not. I chopped sugar cane for a pittance with them, knee deep in a soup of water and spent canes and big snakes close enough to shake hands if they had any, and looking like trains do on a chicane in the distance. I looked each morning for spiders that could span a salad plate in my boots, lest I dance my first and last tarantella. I rode in the back of an elderly stake truck through the cane fields and jungle with my newfound companions, and they sang a song steeped in some kind of Mayan feeling I could sense, but not fully understand. They were vibrant mestizos, the Mayan strain the main ingredient, but not completely overwhelming the conquistador seasoning  – a teabag on its second use.

The Yucatan is somewhat north of Guatemala, but similarly Mayan. It is, as they say in Maine, a far ride from our house. We were offered a discount of something like twenty-five cents a ticket if we were willing to endure four layovers along the way, but the siren song of two-bits each couldn’t overcome the desire to stop only in Atlanta, and hang around for a couple hours before completing the journey. We flew out of Portland International Jetport, a sobriquet that reminded me of a child wearing his father’s shoes. I can drive internationally, guys. Canada is cheating. I can see it from my house, as they say. And if I have to go to Atlanta or one of four other places first, you’re fibbing a bit with the international signage.

The flight crew to Atlanta consisted of four female linebackers and Doogie Howser. The seats had screens in them with screaming come-ons for free Paramount Plus, other free offers that would similarly charge you a fortune when you weren’t looking, advertisements for assorted drugs that promised to transform you so utterly that you’d be happy and dancing again, even though you probably never danced before, and various concoctions and elixirs to modify your bowels or electrolytes or whatever. Some people watched Fox and Friends, and in close quarters it was unavoidable to help them do it, blessedly with no sound. I’ve never seen it, and found the desire to watch it inexplicable. A woman dressed like a common streetwalker and three guys in shiny suits too small for them, repeating the same three non-events over and over. I eventually discovered that the screen in front of your face allowed you to see nothing but our plane’s progress superimposed on a map, which was a minor blessing, at least. Addition by subtraction.

Atlanta airport is the size of Rhode Island, but modestly cleaner. Faint praise is still praise, isn’t it? It is peopled by throngs who appear to have palsy in the mornings, and tremble so violently that dressing themselves becomes near impossible, so they settle on whatever’s at hand. They wear prom dresses from reform school soirees, circus costumes, prison uniforms,  space suits, polyester nightmares, fright wigs, track suits for people who don’t run, and every other form of thunder and lightning, diabolical, delirium tremens couture.

We flew on a Boeing 737 which had no visible missing parts or active fires and appeared to keep most of its wheels on touchdown, which made for a relatively carefree flight. The airline spends most of their money on seatback screens, I gather, but had enough left over for gas and rivets and such to get us there.

We walked from the Delta terminal to the Aeromexico terminal. If we had headed in the opposite direction and walked the same distance, we would have been home again, I think, I’m not sure, my pedometer is still in the package somewhere in the store where I didn’t buy it.

[To be continued. Thanks for reading and commenting, recommending this site to others, and contributing to our tip jar. It is greatly appreciated]

7 Responses

  1. At least the Atlanta airport has those goofy tunnel trains to whisk you between terminal buildings. The new Salt Lake City airport is a wannabee with a nice tunnel, but no train. Ditto Phoenix’ Sky Harbor, but the tunnels are above ground. Who knew air travel involved so much walking?

    1. Hi Mike- Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Yes, Atlanta has a tram/train/subway sorta thing. My wife gets motion sickness, so we didn’t chance it on the way out. The plane was so late on the return trip (Atlanta didn’t have a gate for the plane, and we taxied all over the runways for an hour looking for one) we had to take it. It was a thrill ride for the ages in there, I tell you what. 0-60 in three seconds.

  2. Hartsfield in Atlanta has that “wandering through limitless corridors” thing going. But for sheer chaos, I gotta nominate Philly. Once did a day there, doing what I call “wandering around the airport, trying to figure out where they hid the airplane”. ‘They’ was American Airlines, and it was parked out by the employees’ parking lot gate, evidently where they parked it when they got out and went home.
    All of this to get to Buffalo too late for the wedding we were going to. We rode around on American’s bus long enough that we could have just driven to Buffalo, bur apparently that’s bad form for an airline.

  3. Re: Airport couture. Many years ago, my brother-in-law and I were stuck in Denver airport waiting for an aunt whose plane was hours late. Silently nursing two now-warm beers, we sat at a table overlooking the main concourse wordlessly watching some of humanity’s worst fashion fails. After a while of increasingly questionable choices in vestments, I commented, “Y’know, at some point today, every one of these people looked in a mirror and said to themselves, ‘Yeah, that looks good!'” Minutes more of silence until an older gentleman, maybe 5’3″, with a thick, drooping handlebar mustache moseyed on past. His jeans were tucked into bright red, hand tooled high heeled cowboy boots, his “cowboy” shirt was bright yellow, intricately embroidered in black, and his hat…his hat! It was blinding white, and must have come from Yosemite Sam’s Infinity Brim Collection™. A moment after he had passed us, my brother-in-law made the second comment uttered in an hour, “I want his mirror.”

    1. Small world. I have also, way back when, been stranded overnight in the Denver airport. There was an ad-hoc coterie of drunks, waiting out a blizzard. The bartender wanted to go home, so he turned off most of the lights, and whispered to us, “You didn’t hear this from me, but I’m not pulling down the metal gate, and the taps are still on.”

      One of the travelers had one of those big styrofoam coolers filled with lobsters. We got really drunk and raced the lobsters down the bar, and bet on the outcomes. It was glorious.

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