#Tex2Mex Challenge (Part 2 – Let’s Go To Mexico!!! (My First International Flight!)… And Once We Got There… Oh Goodness)

Monday, March 20th, 2017

Aurora on the plane to MexicoPicking up from yesterday –

So, the Dallas race was over. I had found my uber driver even in the craziness of tents and trucks and everything that is the remains of a half marathon.

And I’m like, “Hey, new friend! I need to get to the airport liiiiike as fast as we can go.”

And we take off and he tells me we need to get gas… Of course.

I’m all, “Isn’t there aaaaany way that maybe just maybe you could get gas after the airport?”

But no. He’s not confident we can make it to the airport with the gas we have.

So, he stops off for a super quick trip. I felt bad that he didn’t even have time to fill the tank, but appreciative that he only got what he needed since we were on a time crunch.

I ate some food in the backseat and took a couple of selfies with my medal, and small talked with Juan (my driver).

Before you know it, I was at the airport. And when I walked in, I might as well have had one of those chorus of angels sound effects play. Because the line for the American Airlines ticket counter was empty.

I go up there and start to hurriedly (scardly (not a real adverb, but I’m using it)) explain, “I keep trying to change a typo of one letter in my last name. Please help me!” And Kim sweetly says, “You’re fine. You’re here. You’ve made it. Take a deep breath. We’re gonna get you on the plane.”

(Woot!)

She’s training someone. So, I kind of hear them talking about options of what they do when there’s a misprint on someone’s name. And ultimately, what she does is write a note on my boarding pass to security that it’s off by one letter, but I am Aurora and they should let me through. And she leaves her gate agent number or whatever is it airline employees have. She signs it. And off I go. I’m told I’ll probably get extra screening (like a pat down or a bag check), but whatever. I don’t care.

So, I go to security. They tell me my pass isn’t good there. “How do we know you didn’t just write this yourself?” They won’t get me go through. So, I go back toward the counter.

Kim is either getting off her shift or taking a break or something because I see walking away from the counter. “Kim! They won’t let me through!”

“Oh yes they will!” she says as she comes to escort me.

She comes over to security and a security supervisor is summoned. Everyone is looking at my documents and boarding pass, and finally, I’m allowed through. (Thank you Kim and everybody! …It was especially nice of her to take time to escort me when it seemed like she wasn’t even on the clock anymore.)

Aurora at airport at #Tex2Mex stretching

Just putting my foot in my face as I stretch out before the flight

So, I get through security. Now that I’ve taken that pair of half marathon shoes off, I don’t put them back on again.

When I grab my stuff, I change shoes and socks. I also have some blisters and a couple of little cuts on my foot (I guess from dry skin or blisters that popped. (Ew.))

There’s one of those little spa right next to security. So, I go ask them for band-aids, and they give me some! They also let me sit in a comfy chair. And one woman, whom I tell about my big fundraising effort, even gives me a free 10-minute foot massage!

Then, it’s time to run to the gate, ’cause as awesome as this all is, I don’t have time for this.

I get on the plane, and every single person in business class is a runner. (Cool. In the words of High School Musical (which I’ve never seen, but certainly have seen memes), “We’re all in this together.”

The flight attendant has left gigantic water bottles for all of us – which I greatly appreciate. (I end up going through 3 of them(!)… and using the bathroom twice. Gotta hydrate. It was hot in Texas. I am slightly worried about over-hydrating. But not really. With a plane ride coming off a hot race, I don’t think I’m actually in any real danger of that.

We also get food. (I could get used to business class!) We get warm nuts. (Yes, those are actually a thing – not just a thing fancy people in movies get to eat on planes.)

And there was this awesome salty chocolate they had… I don’t super love chocolate, but I do love salt. And the really nice seatmate next to me scored me an extra piece when I was in the bathroom. (Super cool, right?)

Also, when I got on board, I got one of those little things to fill out for customs. Any international business was new to me, ’cause it was my first international flight!

So, I filled out the thing and when you get to Mexico, somebody checks it and then you fill out another thing about your bags. Then you click a button that tells you whether your bags have to be screened or not. (It feels like we should have things like that in America to make random searches a little more actually random, no?)

Anyway… So, Mexico. We did it. We flew. We napped. (The flight attendant even made a comment about how the people in business class got sleep, but in coach, they did not… Take your party class, y’all! I was happy to nap.) We landed. We made it through customs.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll series had a couple of people with a big sign waiting for us, as they had arranged a shuttle for us. So, we followed the sign, we got on the shuttle.

Aurora's feet on the plane

(just a pic of those mystical warm nuts (and my stretching) on the plane)

I love the Rock ‘n’ Roll series. So, when I tell you the beginning of the Mexico City race for this American was a total mess, please don’t take that to mean I don’t love them… I’m hoping you can take it for the love/hilarity/silliness/ridiculousness with which it is spoken.

So.

We’re on this bus. And the race starts in this stadium/horse-race track place. My understanding is that the bus is supposed to be able to drive into the middle area. (I later find out there are indeed buses there, and that our bus picks us up from there later that night. So, it seems like it could’ve been super possible indeed.)

But instead, we end up getting stopped in a parking lot. I don’t know where the miscommunication was or who was really in charge of what… because I guess that horse racing place has some ownership or at least autonomy of some kind when it comes to parking. And I think there’s another international company that’s helping Rock ‘n’ Roll put on the race – like, I don’t think the Rock ‘n’ Roll series actually runs everything and has the final say in everything… Because…

I’m only sort of kind of getting the story (in large part because I don’t speak Spanish). But someone who does speak Spanish is translating as best they can what they can hear from outside the bus. Apparently the parking people are asking for money even though the bus people are trying to explain that we’re supposed to have permission to go on the field.

At first, we’re all pretty strong in this feeling of, “We’re not doing a long walk with our luggage! Let our bus through!”

…Aaaaaaaand then we all realize we don’t have any power at all and when they tell us to get off the bus and grab our luggage, we do as we’re told.

So, here we go.

I’m now carrying a heavy duffel bag and bookbag (’cause they have all my stuff for an international trip that includes two races (plus a dress and such because I stopped in Ohio for my grandma’s 90th birthdya on my way to Texas)).

And we’re going. We’re moving through crowds, trying to figure out which way to go (as the crowd is not all going in the same direction since some are maybe going to their cars or who knows where).

And we come upon this woman from the race standing blocking the path to move through barriers toward the race. Again, I don’t speak Spanish. (Goodness, I should learn!) But someone in our group is explaining to me that she’s saying she can only let people with bibs through…

But we were told we were going to get our bibs once we got there… We don’t know where our bibs are, but they’re somewhere past where she’s standing, and we don’t have them.

So, there’s talk back and forth and then someone from our group has the idea – what if we show our vanity bibs? We got these fun bibs that say #Tex2Mex (even though they don’t actually mean anything). But, they show we’re from a group our something. And there’s more talking back and forth and begging until she reluctantly agrees.

So, everyone is fishing through their bags, and we all get through – or at least, I think we all get through.

It seems like with nearly every step we take we’re losing someone off of our gigantic group who disappears into the giant crowd around us.

We keep walking, walking, and then we go down some stairs which leads us to this giant track and field with tents and people everywhere. And I look around and realize – uh oh… I’m one of the people who’s been lost.

And this is where I’ll pick up tomorrow.

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