Sunday, August 02, 2009

Air Flights - Time Zones - Oaxaca

August 2

The journey from Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada to Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico was an ordeal. It began at at 3 a.m. Atlantic Time (which is 1 a.m. Central Time). I made myself a cup of coffee, organized my bags for the flights, turned in my rental car, and checked into the Continental Airlines ticket desk.

"When are you leaving Mexico?" she asked.

"I don't know." I say.

Canada and Mexico are in a little bit of a visa dispute, and Mexico in retaliation, because of increased restrictions on Mexicans travelling in Canada, has established new rules for Canadians entering Mexico.

I produce my Mexican work documents and explain my status. No one knows how to enter the information into the computer. I'm told that it could take all day to straighten out the problem.

"I must get on the plane, Moncton is not my home," I said. I'm assured I will be able to board the plane.

Eventually the Continental staff are told to just make up a date. This causes some concern because the staff person whose number is used could personally be fined thousands of dollars if caught violating the rules. So, she aska the name of the person who has given her the instructons, and takes a chance.

The plane left at 6 a.m. Atlantic Time, with me on board.

I arrived in Newark New Jersey at 7 am Eastern Time (6 am Central Time). I went through American customs, and waited for my flight to Houston. My flight to Houston departed at 12 p.m. Eastern Time (which is 11 a.m. Central Time), and arrived in Houston at 2:30 p.m. Central Time.

My flight to Oaxaca was to depart ar 6:30 p.m. and arrive in Oaxaca at 8:30 p.m. I'm now in the Central time zone and will remain in the Central time zone until the end of January. I'm happy about this, because the number of time zones I've been in throughout July has left my internal clock confused.

We were delayed in Houston because the Continental staff suddenly found luggage they had not boarded. The pilot apologized for the delay. After a few minutes, down the runway we went. Then we taxied back. The pilot once more apologized, apparently, perhaps repairs would need to be made on the plane. We waited aboard for the maintenance people to arrive.

The pilot had no idea how long we would have to wait, trapped in the plane. But he promised, and did, keep us informed.

When the maintanence people arrived he announced that a part needed to be replaced. The maintenance people needed to go to the warehouse where they stockpile parts, and see if they could find the part.

Later, he announced that the part could not be found in the warehouse. The maintanence people were now looking for a plane that wouldn't be flying that night so they could sort of borrow the part.

A little later the pilot told us we would be switching planes and they were looking for a plane. In the meantime, we could leave the aircraft and wait in this kind of hangar, which was air conditioned.

Another plane was found and we boarded. The pilot then told us it was a computer part that needed to be replaced, but couldn't be found. He didn't want to fly so far south into Mexico and not be able to get back because the plane was malfunctioning. Apparently parts are hard to find in Mexico.

He really was very funny, and had me and some of my fellow passengers in stitches. I don't think he was trying to be funny; it was just his informal way of expressing himself. One of my fellow passengers felt the need to let us know his brother-in-law is an aircraft mechinic, now an aircraft mechanic instructor, and those who manage to get through the program are very conpetent.

We arrived in Oaxaca 1 1/2 hours late. My FM-3 Independent got me back into the country, although I really should have had it stamped when I left Mexico. The customs people did not want to hear that I was in transit, and so they told me to list my Chihuahua address on their form so that it corresponded with the address on my visa.

Veronica, who owns the apartment I'm stayiung in for the next three weeks met me at the airport. It was nice to see her. I was exhausted.

Here are photos of my new digs. Sparser than my Chihuahua Cedro Suite apartment, which I really liked. But, more authentically Mexican. $342.58 Canadian dollars for one month (today's conversion rate)

Had a good nights sleep, showered, started to unpack. I'm off to do some shopping.

Back from my first shopping trip

There is a market very close, where people set up booths. I bought bread, and fruit and vegetables. I'm going to try green oranges, a different variety than the orange orange? The vendor told me the green oranges are more acidic.

I had to walk about eight blocks before I found a restaurant the sold cafe americano. It's kind of silly, Oaxaca grows very good coffee. What do the people here drink, if they drink coffee? Instant coffee.

Funny, I feel like I'm home, back from vacation. My Spanish is workable. I know the culture and shop less and less at the super markets. I feel more and more as if I belong in Latin America.

More about Oaxaca later.

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