When I arrived in the prepaid limo at the Seattle airport and went to tip the driver, I realized I didn’t have my wallet. Uh oh. I had ticketing info and passport, but not a thin dime of cash. After checking in and ransacking everything, I went back to Shuttle Express to ask if they could please search the van. The wallet wasn’t there. Unbelievably, a shuttle driver named Aaron (driver #3060) reached into his pocket and gave me $10. After protesting mildly, I accepted it.
I flew standby on both flights, ending up in Cancun. Miraculously, I made it onto both flights although they were quite full.
From the airport, there is no free ride into Cancun city to get to the bus station, so I used $4 of Aaron’s $10 to do that. Then I used another $3 to go to Western Union, where Jim had wired me some money for the bus ticket. Unfortunately, it was the 31st of the month, and all the civil workers get paid from this office, aka Electra. There was a long line of exhausted workers.
I cleverly missed the first bus I was ticketed for, but did manage to get on one 20 minutes later. I had to pay a lot more as it was one of those ultra luxurious busses with blankets, bottled water and quiet. All the curtains were shut and everyone took their seats, got comfortable, and immediately fell asleep. So did I.
The first class bus station in Merida is so efficient. They had my bag which had already arrived, out in one minute. Now they have one of those desks for taxi tickets, like at the airport, so I was home in a flash. It was 11:30 pm and I’d left Seattle at 3 am.
I met a hilarious cab driver in Cancun who was from Campeche. I remarked that I’d heard a lot of jokes about people from Campeche. He roared and said he had two more for me.
What does a Campechano do when the wind is blowing hard at him? He puckers up and blows back as hard as he can.
Campechanos don’t spank their children with their hands. They hold them by the feet and slam them against the furniture. Yes, in the state I was in, I thought that was awfully funny and so did he.
After a difficult week in Seattle, I was very glad to see Yucatan. In fact, my eyes filled with tears as I spotted the northern part of the Peninsula out the airplane window. Yes, I guess I love it here.
Another nice thing that happened on my trip.
On one of my flights, I was seated next to a man in army fatigues and we got talking. Rather, I asked a lot of nosy questions. I asked him whether he minded the questions, and he said not at all, that he wished more people would ask. Joshua is a Colonel in the US Army and he was bound for Iraq. He was catching a military charter out of LAX after a furlough with his wife and children. He said it was his last six months in Iraq and for that he was grateful. He said the men going to Afghanistan now are in much greater danger.
Joshua has been a soldier for 20 years. It is his career and he is proud of it and of serving the US. I asked him what he liked about it and he said he likes soldiers, the travels, the discipline and the opportunity to stand up for what he believes in a direct manner.
Joshua said that at one point there were 192,000 American troops in Iraq and now there are 50,000. He said the Iraqis really don’t want them to leave because although they finally had a free election last March, the old guy will not step down, which has caused an unstable domestic situation. Joshua has been in combat but now sits behind a computer screen controlling support services to the troops. He says we are still there because we are defending the constitution of the United States. I asked him whether he thought our continued presence there had something to do with American politics and he said yes.
I asked him what he thought of the building of a Muslim mosque next to Ground Zero. He said, “I think they should go ahead and build it.” He says he has a lot of Moslems working for him who deplore terrorism, as the majority of them do. He speaks highly of the Moslem religion and people.
Joshua talked a bit about the traumatic PTSD reactions being experienced by many of the soldiers returning from Iraq. I asked him what he thought was the difference between people who came back severely damaged and people who did not. “I think it depends on what they’ve seen,” he said. He also said he’d been in combat, but had been comparatively lucky.
I asked Joshua what he thought about gays in the military. “Some of my best soldiers,” he said. “Especially the women.”
He says he will be glad in January when “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” will be a thing of the past and people can talk openly.
I had just received (semi) final proofs of my novel, the first proofs with the real cover on them ( which is really terrific, thanks to Josh G and Ellen F). It’s a pretty good-looking book. Joshua said he was definitely going to buy it when it comes available on Amazon, so I signed one and gave it to him. I signed my first book!
I thought Joshua was a fine human being and was proud that the first signed copy of my book went to him.
Don’t forget – my novel, 2012: Deadly Awakening will be on Amazon in book and kindle formats very soon.