I’m one of those people who tends to allow himself to sink a little when the end is nigh. The last couple of days of a holiday, my brain is already thinking about being back home. The post-holiday blues tend to kick in early. I’m sure I’ll be a fun person to be around should some sort of Doomsday event be on the horizon. The same happened in Mexico City. Going to the baseball game was a good way to counteract that; and, on Friday, the last day of my 29-week journey, I went to look around Teotihuacán, a place about 40km outside of Mexico City, that was built a longtime ago, before the Beatles in fact. You could get organised bus trips, which worked out at about forty US dollars. For around ninety dollars, it was possible to hire a taxi driver for seven hours. Seeing as though Naomi wanted to go, too, it seemed like a lot more fun, and less hassle, to go for the latter option.
The site is about half the length of Central Park, and along the middle there’s a big avenue, the Avenue of the Dead, which is about a mile long, flanked by lots of ruins where, one assumes, the olden day version of Starbucks and cell phone shops used to be. Just ruins now. And there are lots of people selling souvenirs. A bit too many, really. Travelling around Latin America, you get used to being offered stuff at every turn, but at Teotihuacán it was a bit too much. I’m don’t think I’ve ever said “No, gracias” as much in my life in any language.
The highlights, though, are a couple of big pyramids, Pyramid of the Moon and Pyramid of the Sun. The latter of the two is the biggest, so that’s the one we walked up. Bit exhausting. Lots of out-of-breath tourists at the top. And a nice view.
After a spot of lunch in the cafe there, we were back with our chauffeur, heading back into the city’s traffic to go to the Museo de Arte Moderno.
Inside there was a rather nice Robert Turnbull exhibit, and an excellent thing called “Diseñando México 68: una identidad olímpica” (“Designing Mexico 68: an Olympic identity”), with loads of pictures and artifacts from the 1968 Olympics. Pretty stuff.
That was it, my sightseeing, and thus my trip, was over. It was a… I dunno how to describe the moment, actually. Strange isn’t the right word. But sitting outside Mexico City airport, having a last smoke before I went through security into the departure lounge, it hit me that I was returning. Not home, because London or the UK isn’t home, but returning to the familiar. I dunno, it’s strange when you are conscious of something being a ‘big’ moment, and it’s tough not to turn the moment into some sort of Hollywood ending. The temptation to listen to something melancholy on my iPod was immense. So I did. Lump in throat for a while, as I stood next to a yellow barrier looking out at a road full of cars, then I remembered I was born and Englishman and that that sort of behaviour simply won’t do.
Every step from there was a reminder that I was closer to the end. Removing my cap for the security woman (if I’m being asked to remove my cap, why, by that logic, am I not asked to remove my trousers?). Buying 800 duty free cigarettes and some duty free manfume (Thierry Mugler’s A*Men, if you must know). Buying water and Tic Tacs for the flight, and doing my best to get rid of all my pesos by buying expensive American magazines. Getting on the aeroplane. Putting my bag and duty free stuff in the overhead compartment. Getting it down again so I can get my book out. Sitting down. Buckling up. Undoing the buckle. Getting my bag down again so I can get my notebook and a pen out. And eventually hearing the captain telling us that we’d be arriving in London at 1.50pm local time.
I settled down after the meal and found that they now have on-demand stuff on BA flights, which is nice, so I watched “Be Kind Rewind” and “The Visitor.” The first one was entertaining, the second one was excellent. The guy next to me had already turned on his iPhone, pulled up a photo of what I assume was his wife, kissed the screen, and put his eye mask thingy on, so I didn’t nudge him when something amazing happened.
I’d kind of expected that nothing else magnificent would happen on my trip, but, when I – for no real reason – pushed the window blind up as we flew over North Carolina, and, for the first time in my life, I saw a thunderstorm from above. And it was stunning. Really beautiful, like a horizontal fireworks display. For about 20 minutes, too, so it must’ve been a fairly massive storm on the ground.
Daylight came somewhere east of the United States, about half an hour’s sleep came somewhere closer to Europe, the “continental breakfast” came, and then I saw the southwestern tip of Wales. And the Severn Bridge. And some English fields. Then the sprawl of London, and welcome to London Heatrow where we’ve arrived ahead of schedule, and the local time is 1.20pm.
I managed to finish my flight with a little argument with some BA employee. I’d been sat in a seat at the front of my section. So, once the seatbelt signs were off, I was out of my seat, I grabbed my bag and I found myself right next to where the door is. I exchanged a couple of pleasantries with the stewardess, and hardly noticed a male stewardess stood next to me, next to the door. (He didn’t have lipstick and jutting breasts; how was I supposed to notice him?) Once the skywalk thingy had been attached, the door came open, and I smiled goodbye to the stewardess and took a step to go out, when suddenly, the BA dude’s arm came out to stop me passing. I don’t remember the exact phrasing of what he said, but the key words are correct, “Wait here a moment while we let the first class people off.” First class people!? I think you might mean people who were flying in our first class section, motherfucker, cos this isn’t the Victorian era, and I’m certainly not gonna doff my cap to the rich folks. Three wealthy people got off the plane as my blood boiled and, of course, a clever answer didn’t find its way from my brain to my mouth. Instead, I gave him the stink eye and in an exasperated tone, muttered “Jesus Christ, class warfare!” Wrong thing to say, really. I should’ve been clever and said something like “upper class warfare.” At that point I pushed passed his arm, and he said, “There’s no need to swear at me.” I told him that “Jesus Christ” wasn’t swearing. He and another colleague looked at me like I was some oik and in unison said, “It’s blaspheming!” I walked away, fuming at BA’s implication that the people travelling in the non-First Class section were considered to be the underclasses. Fuck them. If I can be arsed I’m gonna write a letter. But then I’ll be one of those people who writes letters-of-complaint.
Welcome to England, Craig. And, of course, it was raining.