The trip started with my typical karma - at 10:30 pm Sunday night, I got a text that my 6:40 am flight was cancelled. The message from Delta was: "not to worry! We fixed it! You're on the same flight in two days!" It took nearly 3 hours on the phone to get scheduled on the next available flight out on Monday, you know since I was supposed to be there on Monday. As it was, I flew out of another airport several hours later so I missed the supplier meeting on Monday entirely. I arrived at the airport in El Paso around 10:30 pm Monday night, took the shuttle to the hotel and fell into bed.
Tuesday morning, we met in the lobby at 4:30 am to drive to the Juarez airport for the flight to Chihuahua. The driver got stuck at the border and was an hour late picking us up, then drove like a maniac through the town. We actually hit a man on a bicycle - we took a corner too fast, and he didn't look before he tried to cross the street. He hit the hood, his bike went one way, he bounced down the windshield and hit the road. He picked himself and his bike up and hobbled over to the side of the road. The driver asked if he was okay, he kinda waved and we took off. We did make our flight...
Should you find yourself in Chihuahua, I completely recommend the Soberano Hotel. It was a Westin hotel and is now apparently not. The rooms were beautiful, the bar was first rate, the lobby is gorgeous and there's really cool art all over the place. Also, they have a little gift shop where you can buy postcards and the hotel front desk will mail them for you. That is where these pictures were taken:
Also in Chihuahua, go to eat at a restaurant called "Barriga's." It means "fat belly" and you'll feel that way after you eat. So so good. They make REALLY good margaritas there too, and it's where I was introduced to my latest favorite tequila drink: 1921 creme de tequila. So very yummy! The service was fantastic too.
Wednesday was spent traveling from Chihuahua to Reynosa. You'd think it'd be easy, but no, you have to fly down to Mexico City and then back up.
Sigh. I'm happy to report no ill effects from the fresh fruit cup at the Starbucks in the Mexico City airport. Once we arrived in Reynosa, a supplier picked us up, jammed us into his pick-up and drove over the border to McAllen, Texas. We stayed at the Embassy Suites there. Those are nice hotels, but I was on the first floor, which is handicapped accessible so I didn't have a bathtub - the whole bathroom was the shower. Given the poor placement of handles, trays and such, and the very slippery floor, I'm not convinced that it was anything less than a death trap for anyone unfortunate enough to need the accessibility. Also, the soap is very demanding, and frankly, I don't need that first thing in the morning.
Dinner was someplace that the shuttle from the hotel would take us, and it was good. They made margaritas with DeSoronno, which were yummy.
I spent an hour and a half on the phone with the airline because it occurred to me at some point that my plane tickets home would take me to my town, instead of the one over an hour away where my jeep was parked. The nice lady on the phone assured me that it was all handled...
Thursday was the audit, which was weird for me 'cause the audit had to stop for a couple hours while the building shut down and the whole place gathered in front of the projection screen to watch the Mexico vs. France world cup game. I'm glad Mexico won.
We got back to the hotel after 9:00 pm and my coworker wanted to catch the end of the basketball game so we headed out to Buffalo Wild Wings. If you are ever in McAllen, Texas, DO NOT go there. The service was AWFUL. I ordered a strawberry margarita. After three requests, and an hour, had passed, the girl brought out the drink - it was syrup in a glass. They had that super sweet mix that some places use to make frozen margaritas, but they couldn't figure out the blender or whatever 'cause she told me that they couldn't do frozen drinks. Oh-kay... The food was cold when it finally arrived, she never did get a drink order right. At one point, I resorted to scrawling "WE REQUIRE SERVICE" across a paper towel with the sharpie I keep in my purse and sticking it as high on the wall as I could reach. Then she completely screwed up our bill and had to redo it THREE times. Gah!
Friday, I flew from McAllen to Houston on Continental with no problems. The Continental lady told me that she couldn't check me in for my other flights but said it would be easy to do in Houston. I didn't realize how HUGE the Houston airport is - I've only gone in and out through the international terminal. Holy crap. First I walked about a hundred miles to the tram. Then the tram dropped me off four terminals later and I walked ANOTHER hundred miles to a specific gate, where I caught a bus to ANOTHER terminal and then I walked about another fifty miles to the gate... and all of this without ever once spying anything to do with Delta - it was all continental. As it happened the only Delta guy I found told me that I had to go all the way back - and thru security - to the ticket desks to get the ticket reissued. He didn't have time to help me. So I spent another hour on the phone with Delta getting it fixed. I finally got my boarding passes - although needing boarding passes when I was clearly on this side of security completely confused the gate person who printed them for me. Then I flew to Atlanta, and then onward to my final destination. Whew!
While in the air somewhere over the States, I noticed the clouds marching along in formation. It fascinated me - as far as the eye could see, orderly lines of clouds. Weird!
I noticed a large contingent of biker-looking guys in the airport, looking much more somber than I am used to, and when I went out to the jeep, their bikes all had large flags attached to the back. When I was pulling out, I understood. They'd brought someone home on my flight, and the bikers were an honor guard to escort the casket. As tired and cranky as I was, I didn't mind waiting at all.
I was as grateful to have the Garmin on the trip home as I was the trip there - I'd have NEVER made it without her. They have hidden that airport well but the Garmin was up to the task!
I was SO glad to be home! Yay for sleeping in one's own bed!
Final thought - if you have an iphone, look into the "dial zero" application. It is a directory and instructions on how to get your hands on a real live person when you call a company for something. In my case, I might STILL be in Houston without it. Not only does it have listings by company, but it's got comments on each listing. The Delta number was only getting me an automated response - "We're sorry but call volumes are super high and we're eating donuts so you can't hold or leave a message. Just call back, maybe you'll be the lucky one!" click. buzz. - but someone in the comments had left the Spanish speaking number. Here's the irony - all of the people working the Spanish speaking number speak English AND no one ever calls it so you get right through. So, thanks to that app (I love my iPhone!), I made it home!