I promised to give more details about the Wood Between the Worlds. Now that we've had our two-day working staff retreat and my classroom is all ready for the seven students that will be coming through my door tomorrow, I have time to fulfill the promise.
First of all, I have to say that international travel has to be one of the most spiritual experiences on earth. At least I find myself praying non-stop during the entire traveling time. And not without reason...
At LAX, I sailed through check in. My two pieces of check-in luggage weighed exactly 50 pounds, and I did not end up having to pay for either of them because the flight was international. Hallelujah! I asked the Alaska Airlines agent if I'd have to pick up my bags in Puerto Vallarta during the lay-over, and she assured me she'd check them through. Great news!
With almost the entire three hours still remaining before boarding, I paced a little, hampered by a very heavy computer case stuffed with food for the day, children's books, and of course my computer. I also had a very heavy carry-on suitcase, but that rolled, so the heaviness didn't cause much problem.
When stores opened, I bought an extremely expensive bottle of water ($2.29 for 500ml) and equally costly pack of gum, then ate some breakfast. So far, so good.
Skip ahead to Puerto Vallarta. We'd landed, I'd wrestled my computer bag and suitcase out of the overhead bins and disembarked, and my next project was to find the check-in counter for Mexicana. After I'd asked a few people, I finally found it. Problem number one: The agent at the desk actually weighed my carry-on suitcase, something Alaska Air hadn't done. The case was way over the carry-on limit which I knew, but I'd been counting on their not weighing it, because no one ever had.
At the Mexicana counter, the agent said I'd have to check in the suitcase. I asked him if the fact that I had two others already checked would be a problem, and he just gave me a puzzled look. Language breakdown probably, since my Spanish did some rusting over the summer. Anyway, he checked the suitcase, and off I went to security.
That went quickly, and I was eating some lunch (lightening the load in my computer bag :-) when a lady walked up, "Are you Rachel Greenlee?" Oh, now that's not good. You never want airport employees to know you by name. "You need to come claim your bags." She continued, "They are downstairs."
I told her the lady at Alaska Air had assured me the baggage would be checked though, but of course there was nothing for it but for me to follow this lady downstairs, back out of security, and claim my 50 pound baggage items. She left me with a porter - uh oh, no one to explain what had happened - and I returned to the same agent at the Mexicana counter, after another employee had carefully untaped and searched the box and the trunk.
Much more serious problem number two. The Mexicana agent's scale showed both luggage pieces as overweight, by how much I've no idea because his scale weighed in kilos. He began telling me how much it would cost me for the baggage, and I protested that Alaska Air hadn't shown them as overweight. After some explaining back and forth, he asked for the baggage claim tickets and disappeared into a back room.
By now it was looking like I might miss the connecting flight. The agent didn't return, and didn't return, and didn't return. After about 20 minutes, he finally reemerged and said the bags could be checked without extra cost but now I'd have to pay for the suitcase, because it was baggage #3 and it was overweight. He quoted me the horrifying price of more than $100.
I replied, "Well, what can I do? I don't have that much money!"
After repeating I'd have to pay, he sent some poor soul to find the suitcase, apparently already in the hold of the plane, and bring it back. "You can try taking it on board,"he finally conceded,"But they'll make you check it."
Praise be, with the help of a flight attendant and after I'd removed some books and my pajamas, the suitcase did fit in the overhead bin, and that adventure ended with all four pieces of luggage on the plane - which I got to on time - at no extra cost to me. No further excitement entered my traveling day, and I arrived late evening at the apartment in Puebla. God is good!