After the 3-day moving adventure, Monday morning I walked down to the Transporte Terrestre office (next to Oaxaca’s Post Office, across the Alameda from the Cathedral) to buy an airport shuttle ticket for my Tuesday morning, bordering on crack-of-dawn, flight to California. At 55 pesos (less than $4.50 US) from my apartment in the Centro Histórico (more outside the historic district), it’s a bargain.
The driver pulled up at 6 AM on the dot. Unfortunately, instead of ringing my buzzer, he began banging on the massive iron front gate and shouting, thereby waking my neighbors with apartments closer to the gate. Then, of course, there was the fact that, in my physically and (apparently) mentally exhausted state the night before, I’d set my alarm for the wrong time, and had only awakened 20 minutes before his noisy arrival. So, with teeth brushed but no shower, no make-up, and probably irritated neighbors, I set off for el norte. This trip was not off to a promising start!
The other two passengers and I were dropped off at the Oaxaca Xoxocotlán International Airport’s new departure terminal. Modern, light, airy, signs and announcements in Spanish and English, mezcal and gift shops (but no food!) — everything’s up-to-date in Oaxaca’s new departure terminal.
However, one still must walk outside to get to the old terminal (now dedicated to arrivals) where the only bathrooms, before going through security, are located — a minor hiccup for passengers, but a major inconvenience for airport staff! Renovation connecting the two terminals is in the works.
There were only a couple of other people lined up at United’s desk and my turn came in less than 5 minutes. Hoisting my suitcase up on the scale, handing over my passport and flight information, I was prepared to be on my way through security in no time.
Dream on… for some unexplained reason, the United customer service agent did not like what she saw when she ran my passport through the scanner. Conversation with the other agent, calls to a superior (who I could see standing in a doorway on the second floor balcony), more computer input and passport scanning, and the line behind me began growing. Did I mention, this trip was not off to a promising start?
After twenty minutes, whatever problem my passport possessed was miraculously unraveled and I was on my way through security. It was at this point, ravenously hungry, I began silently chanting to the cocina goddess, that a food stall or at least the convenience store would be open. In September (my first experience with the new terminal) I sat, with stomach grumbling, at my gate for an hour before the convenience store opened its doors.
This time around, I and other early morning passengers were in luck — various puestos were open to satisfy hunger pangs, snack food cravings, and caffeine withdrawal. I opted for a generous and delicious cup of coffee and a ham and quesillo torta, topped with tomato, avocado, chile pepper, and lettuce — filling and yummy.
With a happily satisfied stomach, I walked out into Oaxaca’s warm winter morning air, boarded the little Embraer, and, after a brief delay on the tarmac (mechanical difficulty rapidly solved), we took off into the wild (and clear) blue yonder. Circling twice over the city to gain altitude, the pilot provided us with a couple of bird’s-eye views of Monte Albán and the newly opened Atzompa archeological sites. Not a bad beginning, after all — the journey northward was definitely looking up!