Flip Flop Flying

The last day

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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.

Written by Craig

August 4th, 2008 at 6:19 am

Posted in Uncategorized

8 Responses to 'The last day'

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  1. They can fuck their blaspheming as well. We’re actually allowed to act as if your invisible friend doesn’t exist, chaps.


    4 Aug 08 at 10:05

  2. You may be pleased to know that The blasphemy law in England and Wales have been abolished as of 8 July 2008.

    2008? Christ! I would have expected it to have been abolished decades ago.


    4 Aug 08 at 10:39

  3. There’s a pint in Oxford. If you’re passing through. I’ve enjoyed having a story in my inbox this year.



    4 Aug 08 at 10:45

  4. Well…you’re “home”…Here’s what I do: I PRETEND I’m in some exotic location, even when I’m in Estacada, and especially in Portland. It makes me more accepting of their strange ways, and it’s all so much more easily tolerated…sometimes even humerous. Try it. If any of your blog readers didn’t get enough Oregon Country Fair, they can click on our link. I just finished posting. Craig, you’re the best thing that’s happened to us this year! We’ll see you again soon~!


    4 Aug 08 at 16:36

  5. wow. your sadness just leaps off the page. and such a drag that you were treated in such a disgraceful way as you touched down. i was away for a mere 3 weeks in june but it was a great jaunt where each day was better than the last. and then the air canada stewardthingys were horrible for the 8 hours homeward bound. unusually and shockingly so. and it certainly did not make me feel any better about returning to this parochial dump — that is not usually the way i feel about this city, i was just not ready to come back. the only thing to do is to immediately start planning the next excursion — even if one has to make do with shorthops until the bank account is refilled. hope you feel better soon. i am sure your friends are glad to have you close by again.


    4 Aug 08 at 19:24

  6. write the letter, you’ll feel better.
    it should be written after you’ve had a few beers and perhaps a bloody mary. ;)

    now stop your damn moanin’ or i will seriously kick your ass.
    Mr. 29-week HOLIDAY!


    4 Aug 08 at 21:46

  7. …though it would have been pretty funny if you HAD doffed your cap to the “First Class People”…you could’ve called them “gov’ner”…bloody wankers.


    5 Aug 08 at 00:11

  8. You should have upgraded you cheap cnut. It’s poor people like you dragging the place down…


    8 Aug 08 at 13:47

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