From A Green Jungle to a Concrete One

5am the alarm rings. In the dark my eyes open and I hear the rain falling. Oh no, I have to walk to the bus station. The first 60 seconds being awake and I am already anxious. Awesome way to start the day. I rush in the bathroom to avoid the take over the bugs had accomplished and pack my last couple things. I have a rain jacket and a trash bag from our returned laundry. I put that over my backpack so at least my computer is protected and wear the jacket. My luggage will just be wet. Ok, I breathe let’s go. It is only a 15 minute walk and by this time I have become very comfortable with this little town. I leave the key with the man at the front and wave goodbye venturing into the rain.

Sparse lights guide me down the hill to the main street, my luggage wheels rolling along loudly. At the bottom, I bounce between the side walk and the street. I see the lights of the bus station and gladly hide instead soaking. The bus comes, I board, and immediately fall asleep.

We stop halfway into this 5 hour drive. The bus driver stands outside the bus and I stand near him to stretch and wake up. He asks me where I am traveling and we start chatting. He tells me about his family in the US and how he lived there after his visa expired for a couple years. His daughter is still there so he goes to visit occasionally. This is one of the best parts about traveling somewhere and speaking the local language. You get to connect with locals and have an entirely different experience.

Arriving in Campeche a small historical port town in the west of the peninsula, my anxiety returns. In the last 24 hours my client confirmed we would be recording next week in NYC. I booked the first flight out of Campeche in 2 days. I’d land in Florida to grab a jacket and some winter clothes and then fly to New York. Today I had to find a covid test. I had a transfer in Mexico City ironically the main destination of this trip that I never visited. But I didnt have enough time to get a test before leaving on the flight to the US. I grab my bags off the bus and hustle to my friend’s at the airbnb. Grateful to be with friends again but feeling stressed to say the least I showered, changed, and ran out to try and find a testing location. Google showed a clinic, fingers crossed that had a traveler covid test.

I found an atm, got more cash considering it was definitely king in Mexico, spoke with a cab driver about scheduling a car for a 5am pick up to the airport, and went to the clinic feeling good. The clinic did have a test! I happily took the test, I knew I was negative because I carry tests with me to test before I do the government ones. Just in case.

With only 48 hours until I left for New York I was determined to see what I could. This little port city has a historic walled in center. The city itself is fairly small so my timeframe worked well. The next two days were full of wandering around the beautiful quiet streets and exploring museums. Plus the best tacos I have ever had.

Two days later I say goodbye to my friends the night before and quickly turn off my alarm at 5am. I sneak to the room next door and call the taxi number. It goes to dispatch, I say in Spanish “I need a taxi to the airport” “Address”, a voice responses. I try and say my cross streets. The voice on the line doesn’t understand, other voices are now trying to help. No one can figure it out so I try again. A frustrating couple minutes later the line drops. I guess I am going for another dark morning stroll. I grab my suitcase and head out the door walking from the airbnb towards one of the busier roads.

I get to the roundabout with only 1 panic moment of dogs barking when I walked past. I stand there willing a taxi to drive by not knowing where they stage. The historic walled city sat in front of me. I give it 5 minutes before I let myself start to stress. A couple cars pass by, some taxis with lights off, eventually one comes to me. I open the door to negotiate before I get in. How much to the airport I say, he responds with the high tourist price. I counter requesting lower. He agrees. I get in the cab feeling secure I was on the right track.

We pull up to the dark airport. I pay and get out. Two guys my age sit there with 4 luggage, the street light in the parking lot flickers. The airport isn’t even open. Now its 6am. My flight leaves at 830am. I wasn’t even checking a bag. This is why I never get to airports early, its never worth it. I watch the cleaners arrive, the security arrive, the flight attendants arrive, then they let us in. From here to through to security I sit at one of the two gates.

The woman next to me strikes up a conversation. She doesn’t seem to mind she is the only one talking. She shows me pictures of her solo trip. Having the time of her life because her husband fell and died recently. Or maybe I heard her wrong? Now I am trying to translate better. It’s time to board the plane. The flight attendant calls my name, asking me to confirm I am negative. I show her my hard fought test results.

The plane takes off in Campeche and lands in Mexico City. I walk through security around to the next gate. The plane takes off in Mexico City and lands in Atlanta. I walk through security and customs to a mean TSA agent. He yells “Anything to declare?” No I respond. “You bought nothing??” he demands. Yes I respond. He hands me my documents and I proceed. The plane takes off in Atlanta and lands in Sarasota. More tired than I can explain I get in the car with my dad and head back to my parents’ house.

Two days later I am back at the airport, luggage exchanged from swim suits to sweaters. I had ransacked my mom’s closet. As a backpacker, I only have 4 pairs of shoes and nothing professional. The plan takes off in Sarasota and lands in Newark. I take the train over to Penn station and walk to the hotel. Tomorrow begins 3 days of production for my client’s seminar. I climb into my hotel bed in the concrete jungle dreaming of my endless treetops on the Mayan ruins.

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