Escaping the rain and the dark

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We dropped off the poodle at the wife’s parents place. He watched forlornly as we left. Siri gave us bad directions to the airport, trying to save us half a minute by weaving us through tiny side streets, stuffed with cars parked on the streets. At the airport there was no line. I couldn’t remember what TSA PreCheck would let me get away with. The last open bar is just behind security. At PDX they close up shop early. Most restaurants and bars are closed by 8 or are no longer taking new customers.

We sit at the bar to begin our 3-hour wait for our red-eye flight to Guadalajara, Mexico. We order two gins and tonic, followed by a Jameson whisky to toast the passing of my wife’s uncle in Ireland. While we sit and sip, we catch up after a hectic day of trying to wrap up work, pack up a poodle, and get out of town. We did pretty well. I forgot sunscreen.

A few seats down from us at the bar a woman, perhaps 60, loudly announced “I don’t care, I’m getting a drink.” She reiterated, loudly. Her traveling partner, probably her husband, a man about the same age, maybe a little older, fumbled with his rolling suitcase and took a seat next to her. She tried to order a glass of their grenache wine. They were out.

We talked about the funny Lyft driver I had earlier in the week. He had a sign mounted on the back of the front passenger seat, offering his life coaching services. I asked him how life coaching usually worked. Was it one-on-one, in person, or video, etc. He explained that he was trying something new. He organizes a cohort of folks with similar goals and does a group coaching session. Two folks to-be-coached are put on the hot seat. And for thirty minutes he coaches them both in parallel, tag teaming. At the end of 30 minutes, the remaining folks get to chime in with their thoughts and questions.

At the other end of the bar, the older couple, who have been testy all night, begin arguing. She accused him of once saying something, he denied that it ever happened. Back and forth accusation and denial, louder, and more defiant until the man slapped some cash down on the bar and walked to the gate. She called after him “oh sure slap your money down and leave.” For just a moment I thought he might be walking to the airport exit. He continued down to the gates. Perhaps they could use a life coach.

We left the bar to go and wait for our flight to board. It’s busy and a bit noisy by the gate. The rest of the airport is dead. I spot a “sensory room” - a quiet room with bean bag chairs and bubble lights intended for folks who find airports to be overwhelming and anxiety provoking. We slip inside, find some beanbags and snooze for half an hour.

We’re flying Volaris, a budget-friendly Mexican airline with non-stop service from Portland to Guadalajara. Volaris is well run, but not luxurious. We board our plane, endure safety lectures in Spanish and English, and promptly fall asleep in uncomfortable seats.

Our descent into Guadalajara seems to take an hour and a half. We must have flown to the moon overnight. Immigration is easy. The young man checking passports remarks that I look like Thom Yorke. I haven’t heard that in years. I am throughly amused.

My wife is the best travel agent you could hope to marry. She has booked us into a hotel near the historical center of Guadalajara. The hotel offered to come collect us at the airport. Our driver never arrives. After a call to the hotel, we choose a taxi over waiting for another car. The taxi driver is friendly and chatty. At 6:30am the streets are mostly empty and he drives like James Bond.

We arrive at our hotel. It’s a beautiful old pile of stone from the late 1800s. We learn our original driver was in a car accident. He’s OK. Perhaps a charming taxi driver sideswiped him on the way to the airport.

A mural on the street near the center of Guadalajara

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