Mexico revisited

Last weekend was one of the craziest yet.

It started with chatting up a guy in the bar in LAX. Then almost passing out when landing in Mexico City. After which, I met up with The Frenchman in customs.

He had come in on a different flight. Then The Groom

and his brother-in-law, The Tour Guide, aka The Brother of The Bride,

picked us up and we went to Chapultepec Castle and visited the National History Museum. I’ve had a lot of history lately. The National Archives in Washington DC two weeks ago, and now a museum about Mexican history in an old French castle. The Tour Guide was full of fascinating information. And it was fun for The Frenchman and I to learn about how our countries had invaded Mexico. While there, we also saw carriages and views.

The Castle and the park were pretty quiet for a Friday morning, but since I was sleep walking, I just kept thinking it was 6 am. It was 6 am right up until it was lunch time. Then it was noon. I had no concept of time. If I had, maybe I would have wondered why in a city of 9 million people, the park was so abandoned.

Driving in Mexico City is not something I would ever be comfortable doing. I need organization and order. La Ciudad de Mexico is chaos. There are no lines on the road. People cross wherever they want. Roads shut down with no warning. I tried not to look like I had white knuckles while The Groom maneuvered skillfully.

We had lunch at a restaurant that The Groom and The Tour Guide referred to as “the Denny’s of Mexico.” It was then that I gave up on caring as to whether or not I drank the water. The Groom said I was going to get sick even if I tried to avoid it, which is pretty much true, although I never did get Montezuma’s Revenge.

Halfway through lunch, one-by-one, the waitstaff appeared with surgical masks. We thought this was a little bizarre, but never thought to ask why. Truthfully, there are certain people where I live who seem to wear surgical masks any time they are in public, so I didn’t think to question it.

The Father of The Groom

picked up The Frenchman and I from “Denny’s” and took us to his house where we met The Mother of The Groom

and The Brother of The Groom,

who is studying architecture at the local University. He was supposed to have taken a test on Friday morning, but his University was closed due to some flu. So he’d slept in that day.

The Father of The Groom, spoke a little English, but The Mother of The Groom didn’t, so our conversations were limited. The Brother of The Groom speaks English and a little French as well. The five of us squeezed into the car and went for an hour drive to the south. I know where The Groom gets his driving skills.

Silly us, we thought the traffic was bad because school was getting out. Little did we know the government had closed all schools and that this traffic was mild compared to most days. Mexico City has colored stickers that go on all cars. Each day has a color. On the day of your color sticker, you aren’t allowed to drive your car. This way a fifth of the cars fewer are driving on any given day. To get around it, people have bought second cars for that one day a week.

We went to The Bride’s Uncle’s

house for dinner. That is where we met more of the family, including The Tour Guide’s Wife, Red.

Red and The Tour Guide are both architects in NYC. Red is from Turkey. We were all happy to be able to speak English, since Spanish isn’t really our forte. It just reminded me how pathetic it is that I’m not fluent in any other language. Four years of Latin, two years of German, half a year of Spanish, and I’m no closer to being able to survive in a foreign country.

Dinner is when I met The Salad Cousins.

The couple didn’t speak English, but we managed to have a recurring joke about the salad, which was passed to me a number of times. I began to wonder if people wanted me to go on a diet.

After her manicure, pedicure, and chocolate hair treatment, The Bride joined us.

This was about the time that Red and The Frenchman fell asleep.

The Frenchman and I had been awake since 5 am (or 3 am PST) after taking the red eye. And Red had an awful cold. If I catch something, it is most likely her cold. Which is ironic, since this was when I learned how to greet everyone by kissing them on the cheek, and Red is probably the only one who didn’t do that because she knew she was sick.

The Groom’s Parental Units dropped The Frenchman and I off at Hotel Hacienda Cocoyoc

where we went to the bar and I wrote postcards to my nieces while sipping sangria. We were trying to stay up a little later so that we wouldn’t be awake at 5 am. We had talked about getting up early and going to a nearby pyramid, but I was feeling lazy, tired, and truthfully, a little overwhelmed since I was having difficulties communicating. So I suggested that we just wander the grounds and take photos.

We discovered all four of the pools, walked around the golf course, and I took a lot of photos of the structures built in the time of Cortez. We also found the Spa, so I suggested to Red that she and I get a mani/pedi. But when we got to the Spa, it was full. Red had some nail polish, and the two of us did our nails in a little courtyard, and The Tour Guide thoughtfully brought us drinks. The weather was perfect, and I couldn’t have imagined a nicer morning.

The wedding was in a chapel in the resort. The setting was gorgeous and lush.

The flower girls were adorable and photogenic.

And it was probably best that the Catholic mass was in Spanish. I’m not sure I really wanted to hear what the priest was saying. Although God and I had another good talk while I was there. I do miss church sometimes.

The wedding, although in another language, was very similar to weddings in the US. So was the reception, except for the fact that it ran for almost twelve hours! The Brother of The Groom had warned me about the length of the reception, although I thought he was exaggerating, and The Groom had warned me about The Cousins who would make us drink.

I have never had to work so hard to stay sober. It wasn’t that I wasn’t drinking, I just didn’t want to get drunk. I hate flying with a hangover, and it makes me nervous to be drunk in a place where I don’t speak the language, even if the reception was five doors down from my hotel room.

I had to pull every trick in the book. I’d leave drinks places and forget about them. I’d disappear to the bathroom, but really would go sit outside for half an hour. Luckily, the kids’ favorite drink was a Cuba–rum and coke, so it was easy to just get a coke and take out the straw. And I convinced them that the girls only had to do half tequila shots rather than full ones. I just didn’t want to do anything stupid. Of course, being sober doesn’t seem to stop me from doing stupid things.

The wedding music made me laugh. Some I recognized because it was in English. Other songs I recognized because they were remakes with Spanish lyrics, so I’d sing the English words. There was no chicken dance, but there were lots of other group dance songs where people did moves similar to the Electric Slide. There were props. Cowboy hats, maracas, masks, and glo-bracelets.

The Groom had warned me about The Cousins making us drink, but hadn’t warned me about The Brother of The Groom making me dance. I’ve taken a couple ballroom dancing classes, but I was no match for him—hopefully I didn’t break any of his toes when I stepped on them. And I was unprepared for how much I would enjoy it. There was just something entrancing about it. I felt like Cinderella. I kept waiting for the clock to strike midnight and for my chariot to turn into a pumpkin.

So for twelve hours, we danced and drank and ate. I learned new Spanish words. I tried new group dances. I ate sopa and flan. I learned that when you toast, you have to drink with your right hand and look the other person in the eyes while you drink or you will have seven years of bad sex. (This might explain a lot). I laughed, I smiled, I got lost in the moment. I had a little too much fun. It was a fabulous party, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

I didn’t exactly get much sleep that night. And I woke at 6 am to the birds chirping. The Frenchman had left early to catch his flight to France, although, while a little tipsy that night, he’d mentioned something about going to Guatemala instead. I had six hours to kill, so I wandered around the grounds again. I ate at the breakfast buffet. I reflected on the night’s events. I decompressed. I slept in a lounge chair next to the pool and got a few insect bites.

I was going to figure out how to take the bus, but it didn’t leave early enough for me to get to the airport, so I had reception get me a cab. They were very specific about how they probably could have gotten me a cheaper cab, but that this guy is trustworthy and they’ve used him often before. It made me feel a little better.

But my imagination still wandered as we drove through graffiti-filled towns and the cabbie reached across his unmarked cab and locked my door as I rode in the passenger seat. I made up stories about being pulled over and kidnapped and wondered who I would have them contact for a ransom. I imagined us driving off a ravine and never being found. I imagined the cab driver was in on the kidnappings and just drops people off with the kidnappers. I didn’t really believe these things would happen, but I imagined myself scripting a movie where they did.

When I got to the Mexico City Airport, over half the people there were wearing masks. I still didn’t know why. And I wasn’t sure where to find one. I was having a hard enough time finding my flight since there were no departure boards. Good thing I wasn’t hungover. I never would have gotten on my flight.

There was a guy in my seat when I boarded. I asked him to move. He asked to trade his middle seat for my window seat. I said no. And then I felt guilty. Damn Catholic Guilt gets me every time. But I’m sick of people walking on me because I’m nice. So I held my ground, kept my seat, and immediately started napping.

As we reached cruising altitude, I woke up because I was freezing. I tried turning off the air. I noticed seat by seat that other people were trying the same thing. People started asking for blankets. It was so cold I could see my breath. There was no formal announcement, but one stewardess said that it should warm up soon. I started looking around for cracks that were letting in the outside air. It did warm up eventually.

It wasn’t until I got to Dallas that I learned about the Swine Flu and the number of people dead. Somehow I had missed it completely while I was in Mexico. I called my family, who were all worried that the border was going to be shut and I’d be stuck in Mexico. And I tried to find my flight, but it wasn’t on the board.

I knew I had a little time, so i did a bad, bad thing and got a cheeseburger and small fry from McDonalds. I kept looking at the departure boards, but there were no flights after 9 pm listed. I asked a gate attendant which gate my flight would be at and he said I was already standing at it, but that it was running late, so I had time. What luck!

At 9 pm, there were no flights on the departure board at all. I went to the same gate and there were new gate attendants. I asked them where my 9:21 flight was and when they looked it up, it was on time and at the exact furthest point away on the tram system. If you’ve ever been to DFW, you will immediately understand what this means. I ran up the escalator and onto a tram. Then I waited patiently. There was nothing I could do. I tried not to freak out because that wouldn’t help anyone, and I couldn’t make the tram go faster.

Fifteen minutes later, I was running down an escalator, carrying all my luggage. I tossed the roller bag to the ground, and started running in my heeled flip flops. I pretended that I was running a 5k. I ran up to the gate and they called out a name to me. The door was still open! I told them my name, they took my ticket, and told me to take 25A. I ran down the gate, but got stuck behind the blind guy who was also late. We were the last two on the plane.

One of the attendants looked at my bag and said, “Uh uh. No way that is fitting.” So I took out my laptop and let them put the bag underneath. I walked briskly down the aisle, but was stopped again by the blind guy. When I did reach my seat, I couldn’t find my seatbelt. The guy beside me helped me look. Eventually he found it and I turned off the attendant-needed button.

And then I slept until San Jose.


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