Friday, December 29, 2006

Serendipity - Cancun 雑感 I

No, I'm not talking about the movie though I like it a lot. I'm talking about the first half-day encounter after my plane landed in Cancun.

Never have I seen travel to a beach vacation spot requires SO MUCH luggage. What are you thinking? Shipping over their entire golf set or beach wear plus diving equipment? Are they set for camping out here for a month? Or maybe that's just how rich men travel to a very rich-men populated vacation spot like Cancun?

Seriously, I'm talking about mega-size suitcases, the ones that I use only when I fly across the entire Pacific Ocean to go home for the summer (or when moving to relocate).

That, reminded me of the chaos in Boston Logan airport 7 hours ago as I was lining up behind a mile-long disarray of sleep-deprived travelers, suitcases, canvases, sky/golf sets, disgruntled mom's and crying babies, overweight and duck-tapped cardboard boxes of who-knows-what's-inside. I did a quick mental surveillance of the entire int'l check-in area -- 9/10 people are Asians. The remaining 1/10 is either a Caucasian husband traveling with his Asian wife or their kids who are half.

I wanted to cry. I know exactly where they were going. United Airline flight departing at 6/6:30 am; where can they go but Chicago, LA, Detroit if not SFO? All of them are eventually bound for Narita, Japan and then off to Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul, Taipei, Singapore, HK, or Bangkok on a smaller plane. I know exactly what their travel itinerary is and exactly the transit route and security fuss that they'd have to go through after 10 or 12 hours of airtime when they arrive in Narita.

I missed the 630-yen udon soup in Narita transit lounge. Far from being the best I'd say, but good enough for a tired soul. Plus, you get to pick up a box of beautifully wrapped おみやげ home. What would they have these days? どら焼き with a picture of ドラえもん dressed up like a blue Santa singing Christmas carols in カタカナ with his friends?

Or a box of Pocky that prints "季節限定" on the cover.

All I wanted is to go home. I wanted to hug all of them and say: "我的同胞們~ You are lucky that you are going home today."

死ぬほど家に帰りたかった、本当。家に帰られないから、死ぬほど泣きそうになった。Maybe the "Purchase Ticket Here" counter serves precisely for people like me.

When the last two pieces of giant suitcases went merry-go-around on the luggage belt for the longest time until the carousel finally came to a halt, I knew that I'd check into my hostel with nothing but my carry-on bag tonight.

"This is why United should never have only 4 counters open for international flights when there are mountain-load of luggage to transport," I sighed.

Not far from me, another passenger was wandering around the baggage claim area like me. "Another victim of United baggage claim service," I thought. For 10 mins, United representative was enjoying his/her no-show.

"You were on the United 1697 flight?" Finally I asked, hoping to seek company during the boring wait.


"Where did you fly in from before DC? I flew in from ..."

"Boston Logan Airport."

We laughed, a laugh of relief. Whew ... At least we don't need to file a report for stolen luggage.

"There's only one flight a day from DC, ma'am," the representative told me, tearing off my baggage claim sticker from the boarding pass envelop. "The earliest that it may arrive will be tomorrow noon. If it does get on the next flight, that is."

Sir, do you know that it's 90 degrees out there and I'm wrapped in thick jeans, a turtleneck sweater plus having a winter jacket and a scarf in hand? And I'd already put on my only pair of spare contact lens at DC during transit?

I need to see that seawater and to confirm its turquoise color RIGHT NOW. Otherwise I'm going to regret this whole trip.

Thankfully, the seawater indeed is turquoise - surreally turquoise - and there are even a few palm trees swaying here and there on the beach. And 2 hours later, I was sipping my 2nd glass of lemon margarita and filling up my stomach with a plate of pork sausage taco at an outdoor cafe.

"You look very tired," the waiter commented as I sat down after an hour of shopping in order to undress all the heavy winter clothes on me.

"Whew ... Yes, indeed. I just arrived and it's been quite a trip," I told him. A simple sentence is too short to cover the story that I'd gotten no sleep the night before and had to change into a newly purchased summer outfit in a shabby changing room (with a broken lock!) just minutes ago.

"It's been raining for 2 weeks straight, ma'am. Today we see the sun for the first time. You are very lucky," the waiter told me, a short, plump guy with a huge, grandpa-like smile on his face. He spoke very good English.

Lost in my own thoughts on whether or not such luck would continue on throughout the rest of the trip, from the corner of my eyes I spotted yet another wandering soul walking down the street towards the cafe.

Wait, isn't he that same guy at the airport? Victim no. 2 of United Baggage Claim service?

He was equally in shock to spot me too. Among all times, all places, all the unexpected travel turmoil, we ran into each other again. I picked one of the most local streets by the grand avenue for a quick snack. He, too, picked one of the most local streets of all to walk down in search for Hertz rental office.

"This is worth celebrating," he said, toasting for our serendipitous encounter with his Corona Extra bottle and I with my margarita glass.

"So, where are you from?"

"Qingdao, China. Now goes to school at MIT."

「哎喲,那我們講中文就好了嘛!早知道 ...」我說。還在機場雞同鴨講了一番。




「我在 Sloan 念書,第二年。」

「啊,那你認識 A 嗎?土耳其來的。」

「認識認識。第一年我們還是同個 section 的。和他還一起抽過他的 water pipe ...」他大笑。

「那他的 roommate ...?」

「也認識啊,去年在他的 ... 嗯,好像是生日 party 上認識的。他現在不是在 study ... 」

I had intended to get away from Boston, as far as I can, so that I would be subject to the shackles of the past no more, at least for a little while. Cancun was chosen not out of any particular reason but simply for the affordability of airfare (compared to any other Caribbean destinations), for a simple desire for warmth, for a difference, and for a vacation blast that is so unlike any others that it may "undo" some of the hurt inside.




梅ちゃん at 6:05:00 AM



at 12/29/06, 11:56 PM Anonymous basil said...

haha, even though i can't read all of it, nice entry my. always entertaining. i like this white font on the black background as i am typing this comment, btw. see you soon!


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