How much did this cost and who did you talk to for 10 days!
Summary of Cost:
The details are at the bottom of this post but the headline in US Dollars is
air 462 +room 363 +bike 224 => 1050
cash 280 and credit card 800 => 1080
grand total of 2130
I talked to very few people during my 10 days in Cancun. I'm a somewhat gregarious person. I'm not a back slapper. I don't come up to you with a warm greeting. But, my wife is so put off by my talking to strangers that she prefers we sit apart on airplanes so she is not embarrassed by my constant drivel. I refer to my conversations as what I learned about the person on the bar stool next to me. Because, that is where I most often engage with strangers. I love finding out what other people are doing and thinking. I certainly love to talk about myself and I certainly put forward my own ideas. But usually I am must more interested in learning more about you.
Because I was traveling alone, I was probably more needy than regularly for some chance to flap my lips. Even though I rode by bicycle with the same group each day, only a few of them came forward and offered to speak English. I don't speak Spanish at all, other than ola, buenos días and mucho gracias. This alonenessss was exacerbated in that I was using Airbnb. I was not in a hotel or hostel with other foreigners. I talked to my landlord maybe 4 times in the course of the 10 days and it was all fairly functional conversations. I did telephone my wife nightly, but again it was mainly details without affect, just assuring ourselves that each was doing well.
As you can see in my food pictures, I read and do sudoku during meals. I certainly was open to finding people to share meals with but it never happened. I never figured out how to hang out at a bar in the Hotel Zone and meet other foreigners. A challenge for next time.
Isn't it always true that the first is the best? I'm always struck by how often people tell me that they met a life long friend during the first week of college. When we are thrown into a new unfamiliar situation, we are often more open to bonding, more in need, more willing to reach out.
My arrival in Cancun was not auspicious. The flight had been delayed. I was not at all sure that I could contact my Airbnb host. I had a plan to get me to his house that involved a bus from the airport and a 30 minute walk. But it was dark and raining.
The airport was the normal long passage through customs and immigration. I have no specific memory, so it must have gone fairly smoothly. I was selected for a baggage search and the woman opened everything and seemed to have never seen a c-pap (anti snore machine) before. But all in all, smooth. It was a fairly long walk to the bus area. Luckily I had the name of the company that ran the bus from the airport to Cancun so I could ask people about ADO.
It was raining. Not cats and dogs but enough so you got wet. I carry my life on my back. I have a suitcase and a back pack. I am caring a 3ft black umbrella. I am wear t shirt, dress shirt, fleece, wind breaker and heavy all weather sailing slicker, all to save room in the luggage I have timberline heavy duty dress shoes that also perform as boats. Totally waterproof, as long as the water does not come over the sides.
There is a cue. I go to the front to be sure it is the cue I want to be in, it is, I return to the back and slowly await my chance to get under the "roof" and then wait another 20 to 30 minutes to arrive at the front of the line where the woman accepts my 5 US dollars and gives me a slip for the 7:30 bus. I have talked to a couple of young men in the line. One is Asian, has a HUGH suitcase and is on his way back to Cancun. I say back, because he started the day in Cancun, came to the airport, missed his flight, spent the day trying to get on another and is now on his way back to town to repeat the process tomorrow, hopefully without repeating the missed flight part. Another is from the UK. He has just arrived on vacation. Once we have our tickets, we stand on the other side of the cue, in the small overhang of the roof though in fact the rain has diminished. There are a lot of people crammed under this roof with us and more coming. Occatioanally a bus pulls in, lots of the wrong people try to get on it, try to block the people from getting off, general disorganization. There is a very short woman standing with us. She is 50+. Her back pack is all wrong. Not wrong but wrong for her. It has only a slight internal frame. It is small for a backpack but substantial as a suitcase. Maybe 2 feet tall and one around. It just looks serious. Either this woman is mis-equipmented or has done some serious traveling. I'm a little reluctant to engage with her. Women her age can be needy. I make a couple of overtures. She engages but does not "latch on". It looks like I am safe to talk to her.
She is the highlight conversation of the Cancun trip. I'll remember her the rest of my life. She is totally out there. She lives in Birmingham or somewhere in the UK. She has just come in and is on her way to a remote island north of Cancun, probably Holbox but it could be one even further along. I have not familiarized myself with the area yet and so don't have passive knowledge of the island names people could throw at me. I never asked her about a husband or employment. She does not work. She travels. She is a little worried that her house in the UK sits vacant so much of the time and she may have to do something about that, but it is ok for now. She goes home in the summer and she home for the xmas holidays. It is Jan 13th, so she is just on her way out again. She also spends some time in the spring or summer in Greece. Her sister and husband have a 40 foot boat and she sails with them on that. She is not a sailor. She feels fairly guilty that she really can't pitch in when things go wrong. She has learned a lot, she can do what she is told, but she is not the asset that a real crew member would be. But, they tell her it is fine and she keeps going back.
She is on her way to a hostel in cancun for the night and will get a bus onto her island in the morning. She told me about all the other places she had been. Certainly Asia, Bankock, all over europe, etc. Oh, I asked her about a most remembered adventure and she nominated the 6 week Camino de Santiago. I knew about it. She told me that there was a biking contingent on the trail with her but they kept pretty much to themselves. Of course they would be moving at a mush faster pace and while they would see bikers, they would never see the same bikers twice.
We talked about needing friends and meeting strangers. Clearly she is happy or living with her balance. She has friends at home. She clearly is open to talking to strangers like me on the road. When our bus came, we sat next to each other and continued the conversation. There were a 100 people waiting for buses at the airport. Many of them, though not all, were going to Cancun. But, our bus left 2/3s empty. Lots of people tried to get on but their tickets were not for 7:30. The answer was provided once we were underway. We made at least 2 more stops and the bus was full by the time it left for Cancun. I have to assume the other stops were at non-international terminals at the airport but it really was too dark and rainy to be sure.
Once at Cancun, we got out and claimed our bags, NO TICKETS, from a scrum under the bus. Mine was not there. I had to calm myself into accepting disaster but a walk to the other side of the bus produced my loan suitcase. I said goodbye to my short friend. She was off to get information about the location of her hostel. She came by again in a few minutes. I had established communication with my Airbnb host and he was on his way to get me. I told my friend that I was sure he would know where her hostel was but she had been given directions which way to walk and was on her way.
How could I have extended the engagement or laid the ground work for continued connection? I could have given her a card. Even though neither of us had eatn, I just was not in the frame of mind to drop my quest and settle back into enjoying the moment. I was too nervous about arrival, moving the bags to the Airbnb etc. Often, I can just ease off and say "I'm going where you are going". But not this moment. Maybe in the future, since I know these arrival moments often produce the most interesting encounters, I can build in more "leeway" to take an hour out.
It even occurred to me that I should ride the bus out and back from the airport to meet interesting people but I guess that is too creepy and besides there was too much tequila to be consumed in town.
I did not have any particular conversations on the planes. I am ashamed to say I don't remember my seat partner Boston to Atlanta. We had an open seat between us and she slept?. Most interesting were the 3 people in front of me. A couple who were going to a craft store? convention in Atlanta. The single woman in the same row was going to the same convention as a manufacturer's representative or marketing person. She had a wonderful long story to tell about developing her own product and selling her company. I may remember more about the product later but it was something like a diaper bag. She stated out making it in her house. One of her tricks was to not sell it at a small margin but build in a large margin so that she could easily move to selling it in stores and have enough margin to share with the re-sellers.
Atlanta was more interesting. There were two wildly misbehaving children in the loading area. One even made a break for it at the last moment. The couple was Indian with mother-in-law along. I ended up with the man and son. The son was still causing trouble but would drift off occasionally. The man was a doctor in the mid-west. They had been there for years. He did his medical school in the US.
On the trip home Cancun Atlanta leg, I had two empty seats next to my isle. The wife from behind moved up and slept. On the final Atlanta Boston leg, we were 3 across, all seats taken but there were two seats across from us. A very large man was stuck with 2 other men crammed in a couple of isles ahead. The woman next to me was 45? and seemed an ideal conversation mate but was anxious to get into the two empty seats. Once the door was closed and I saw the large man starting to move, I suggested the lady next to me jump, to beat out the ladies behind us also locked into 3. She did. She sat on the inside and the large man on the outside. I was enough intrigued by her willingness to talk that I waited for her in the gang way and talked to her as we walked to ground transportation. She had a phd in clinical psychology, was teaching at a college I had not heard of and was just returning from speaking at an Atlanta conference. Her specialty was schizophrenia and other heavy duty physocies. She loved to travel. I knew she would think of Cancun as low class and indeed she did. She and her significant other, who is German?, are off to Paris this spring or summer. She lives down in Dover and was parked at Logan. She had a least a son but I forget his story right now.
Lets get to the meat. I flew on Delta from Boston Logan to Cancun airport through Atlanta. The total cost was 461.63. Everything is in US dollars,
Wed, January 13 from Boston, Massachusetts
DELTA 1701 9:45 am
arrive Atlanta, Georgia 12:35 pm
DELTA 385 1:50 pm from Atlanta
arrive Cancun, Mexico 4:40 pm
Sat, January 23 from Cancun, Mexico
DELTA 530 8:00 am
arrive Atlanta, Georgia 10:34 am
DELTA 2559 11:20 am from Atlanta
arrive Boston, Massachusetts 2:00 pm
My Airbnb apartment Wed, Jan 13, 2016 to Sat, Jan 23, 2016 cost 363.00
My wonderful bike from Elite Cyclery cost 223.93 from Thursday Jan 14 to Friday Jan 22.
I converted 280.00 to Pecos, some of that I brought home
I put 800 on my credit card
80 at the beer box (under reporting: I sometimes paid cash)
384 for dinner: (DU MEXIQUE 61.90 Hanaichi Suchi 58.94 PETER S RESTAURANTE 46.33 MR PAMPAS DO BRASIL 37.68 LA HABICHUELA 35.80 etc)
160 for lunch
42 to and from Logan airport on the bus
40 beer at Walmart
40 bike light
40 food, sun screen, etc
So air+room+bike => 1050
cash and credit card => 1080
grand total of 2130