WHEN YOU ARE TRAVELING IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY BE READY FOR THE UNEXPECTED. ACCIDENTS CAN MAKE FOR A GOOD STORY LATER ON.

On one of my first trips to Mexico I was touring the mountains with my native Mexican companion, Jorge. Tired of winding roads we were ready for the beach. We decided the quickest way was flight.

Typical American I expected even the small mountain town we stopped in to have an airport with regular flights. There was an airport alright but regular flights were once a week!

After some quick negotiations between Jorge and the clerk at the airport counter we were scheduled to leave within the hour. I thought that was a good sign. Expecting to board a small commuter aircraft like they had on United the sardine can we were lead to, a one-prop jalopy, caused some

THIS LOOKS LIKE OUR PLANE

concern. The plane had more dents than a destruction derby loser. Perhaps I should have given this more thought.

Panic was still at a modest level until we began down the runway and the pilot turned to Jorge and asked, “A ¿donde vas?” I did not speak Spanish then but even I understood that. He asked, “where are you going?”. If he did not know where we were going did he know how to fly us there? He was going to take off without knowing our destination and that meant no one else did either. The FAA would go mad. no flight plan, no tower?

We were told to fasten our seat belts. I counted only one we were three. What was next, there is a life boat under the luggage in back? We were flying over mountains a parachute would have been more handy.

Even high in the sky you felt the heat, this was Mexico; if you needed air you opened a wing window, the pilot used his for an ash tray.

As the mountains we had to fly over grew closer I thought of throwing out a suitcase or two, just to lighten up the load a little. Would we make it? I really didn’t need all those shoes.

If we just get there I kept telling myself. Their were promises of creating an exit plan for every trip, learning more Spanish, certainly packing lighter and no more cheating on my diet; luggage was not the only thing that could be lightened up.

After a l-o-n-g bumpy flight we finally landed safely at our coastal destination, Zihuatanejo. When we came to a stop on the runway I fully expected to see a hand or two to fly up and someone yell “TAXI.”

Taxi or not, it turned out this pilot did know his ¿donde? from his vas.

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