Phew! So after a very hectic and action-packed few weeks, I finally have enough time to pen my thoughts and to let you know that I’ve arrived safely in Mexico – huzzah!!
For those of you who know the story, I stupidly thought it would be a brilliant idea to finish work, including having work leaving drinks, on Friday 26th September and to fly to Mexico the very next day. Considering all the things that were going on in the background with my visa etc., I thought it would be best not to delay since I should have been in Mexico about a month beforehand.
Even though I packed my suitcases a week early (that was a huge feat for me, so I’m patting myself on the back right now) I didn’t quite factor in how much of my life I would be able to pack into two suitcases weighing no more than 23kg each. As you can probably guess, I didn’t quite manage to do that despite my best efforts even up until the airport car park, and I had to pay an extra £60-odd British whole pounds for the pleasure of having 7kg worth of overweight bags.
After saying my goodbyes to my family and friends, I jetted off on my 20-odd hour journey to Mexico. At around £800 (not including paying for extra luggage and for my overweight bags), I chose to fly with AeroMéxico – the cheapest flight I could get. Since I was expecting it to be the Ryanair of international flights, I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. I had my own TV, which compared to Air Europa when I went to Cuba, was a luxury! … That was pretty much it, to be fair; I had a window seat, which was ‘ideally’ situated right above the wing, and a TV, so I was fairly content.
Besides having to pay extra for my bags at the check-in desk, in cash, everything went by fairly smoothly. Well, somehow I spent a lot of time in the shops looking for headphones as my sister conveniently took mine, but then I had to run for the plane and I managed to lose my travel pillow along the way. Oh, and at the security check point at both airports, they wanted me to fit all of my nail varnishes into a ’little’ transparent, resealable plastic bag, as the litre bag that I provided was apparently too big. I was expecting everything to be more problematic to be honest, because I worry, a lot. Do not tell me facts that will potentially scare me into thinking about the worst possible outcome, because I will take on board everything that you say and then multiply that by a thousand. Such as the morning my manager told me a couple of weeks before I was due to fly that there was a hurricane in Mexico. After a quick Google search, I found out that the hurricane passed by my region and that it was preceded by earthquakes – plural!! Although I must say that ‘my town’, Guaymas, was not really affected by it. On that same day, I read about how some Americans were scared about ISIS terrorists entering the USA through Mexico, and I was particularly worried because my request for a halal meal on the plane was rejected and my mind raced through all kinds of terrible scenarios. But my fears proved to be just that – a product of thoughts I had created.
I arrived safely in D.F. (Mexico City) at stupid o’clock in the morning on a Sunday. I walked around and found somewhere where I could nap for four hours until my next flight. The odd thing about that experience was that even though I had a connecting flight, I had to take my luggage from the conveyor belt, go through customs, then go to a connecting flights conveyor belt to drop off my suitcases. Very strange. It was at this airport where I encountered my first language barrier, when I had to ask where my terminal was.
My journey continued on a flight to Hermosillo, where I quickly found out that AeroMéxico domestic flights were more like the vision of a budget airline flight that I had in my head. But the good thing was that the flight was not full, so I didn’t have to sit next to anyone, and it only lasted a few hours.
I arrived at a small airport at around 7:30am, then I had to take a taxi to the coach station. This was straight forward enough, I guess. Apart from the fact that my ‘Latino’ friend said I should never get into a taxi with a stranger. Well, the driver was lugging my luggage into a van full of strangers. I panicked and was slightly unnerved. But then I realised that everyone else was going to the same bus station, so it was fine.
Once there, I had to get the coach to Guaymas. I had been practicing my line for this in Spanish during the flight to Hermosillo; I was ready. The lady at the ticket office seemed to understand me, up until I got to the name of my destination, “Guy-yam-as”!
“¿Qué,? she asked, with baffled look on her face.
“Guy-yam-as,” I replied even louder, making sure to pronounce every syllable.
I showed her the spelling of the place on a sheet of paper that I had.
“Ohhhh… Gwhy-mas,” she said. I had been pronouncing it the wrong way for months, and even now, I’m not sure if I’m actually saying it properly.
Anyway, a worker who spoke English came to the rescue and sorted out everything for me, and I was comfortably sat behind the driver in seat number one.
As we drove through Guaymas at around 10am, my first impression was that it didn’t seem like much at all; it just seemed quite run-down and bland.
As soon as I sat down at the bus station, a hustler came over to me and tried to sell me something. “Ah, Monica…” he would always exclaim and he kept hovering around me.
I was instructed to call someone called Elsa, whom I later found out was the coordinator for the primary school and the director’s wife.
“I’ll be wearing jeans and a blue top,” she said on the phone.
A lady walked into the station with that description, and I was about to get up and greet her, until I realised that she wasn’t actually looking for anyone, so I sat back down, deflated.
Elsa finally arrived to pick me up and drop me off to my new home, arriving with her signature smile that I have come to know. She really is the embodiment of happiness, but I can also imagine that if you cross her, she would destroy you.
We arrived in a matter of minutes, but we had to recruit some guy to carry my heavy luggage up some stairs to my apartment above some shops.
I walked in and it was really dark and dusty. To my left was a room with bunk beds in it. Then as you walk through, the kitchen is located on your left. If you take a couple more steps, then the bathroom is on the left. Taking a few more steps forward, I saw another bedroom, this time with a double bed, and I immediately claimed it for myself even though I had no one else to compete with. In hindsight that room was a good choice, because the flat is located on the main road and the traffic is quite loud and can even be heard from my room at the back.
Once I dropped off my bags, Elsa took me out to eat and she offered me some options. I’m ashamed to say it, but I wanted something that was familiar to me, especially as I was super hungry after my epic journey, so I opted for Burger King. It was so strange to see that the price for the food started from about $70, but it’s about $20 to £1, so it’s not as bad as it seems. What’s even more confusing is that the sign for Mexican pesos and the sign for American dollars is exactly the same, and some shops, particularly in touristy areas, show their prices in dollars rather than pesos. Confused.com
So, once I received the food, we sat down in a booth and talked business. We discussed what was expected of me in the role, blah, blah, blah and then my ears pricked up with the words “start tomorrow”.