Welcome to Day 8 of Janet and Randy's Tulum Adventure 2016
Friday, January 29th, 2016
Today was a travel day back home.
Woke up just after 7:00am, and got showered. We finished up packing and headed down to the resort restaurant as we didn't have any breakfast food left. We were the first ones there. We both ordered bacon, eggs and potatoes (with a side of toast). It was tasty - like all the meals at the resort. It was a little cool while eating breakfast, only 17c :(
We settled up our food/drink bill with Nestor, said goodbye to Deb & Bob and Ken and Connie, and then went to our room to get our bags. We loaded up the trunk and left the resort at 9:00am.
The drive to the airport is around 90 minutes. The night before, we got some advice to not speed along the 307 highway as the police like to nab tourists on their way back to the airport. Even though it is a double highway all the way, the speed limit is constantly changing - sometimes 3 different speeds within a single kilometer. There doesn't seem to be a lot of logic behind why the speed limit changes so much. The road is straight and flat for almost the entire way. There are some places where there are intersections, so I understand the need to have a lower speed. But then there were other areas where the limit was 60 or 70 (kph) for no apparent reason. The apparent reason is to catch tourists, make them sweat while they think they are going to miss their flight.
Randy stuck to the speed limit the entire way, but I could tell that it was killing him to drive so slow (slowing from 100kph to 40 and having semi trucks and cement trucks barrelling up behind you does make me a bit nervous). But the good news is that we made it to the airport without incident. We found the rental car office without any problems, and had returned the car within 10 minutes (why couldn't the pickup be as easy as the return?). And then a shuttle was ready to take us to the airport immediately. A much quicker process than when we picked the car up.
When dropping off the car, Randy was given a survey that he was told to put his name on and fill out right there. Which makes it harder to be as honest as a person would like. I don't know what the questions were, but he answered 'average/normal' to all of them. I'm sure he would've liked to answer them differently if we weren't in the rental car office and wanted to just get out of there. The questions were worded in such a way that the real problems are gently skirted. Plus the fact that I'm likely not going to be renting a car from there any time soon.
At the airport we checked in and got our boarding passes. Then we went through security. I went through okay, but Randy's bags were taken aside and it took forever for someone to deal with (that's because the security was not focused on the task at hand. Instead these guys are laughing and giggling at stuff and they only perform part of the process i.e. swab someone's stuff and then go talk to someone else all the while holding the swab and then grab something else and then check their phone and do whatever else... FOCUS People !!!). Finally they brought his bags to the end of the belt and told him that his contact saline solution was too big (it is not - as it is considered a medical item and exempt from the liquids size). Randy tried to explain, but he wouldn't listen. Finally Randy told him to just throw it away then. My exact words were "...Then throw the fucking thing away". They also checked Randy's backpack because they were sure that he had a tool in there. Nope - the only 'tool' present was NOT in the bag (it was the person inspecting the bag). Can you tell I'm getting a little testy at this point?
Once we were finally through security, we had a bit of time to kill before our flight. There was no United Club lounge in the airport, so we spent some of our last pesos buying myself a keychain, and then just found some seats to hang out in (which ended up being right next to our gate). When we first arrived, we didn't know what gate our plane would leave from. Looking at the flight board, only flights leaving within the next 45 minutes or so actually had a gate assigned. So, it was pure luck that we happened to sit near the gate that our flight eventually came into.
We boarded the plane and settled into our seats. We were given pre-departure drinks (Randy had vodka & orange and I had just water). Again, the flight didn't have any in-flight entertainment, so we listed to audio books during the flight. Since it was only a 2.5 hour flight, it wasn't the end of the world. After getting to cruising altitude, we were offered more drinks (I got a vodka and cranberry this time) and some warm nuts. The choices for our meal were chicken or salmon. I had the chicken and Randy had the salmon. Both were pretty good (either that, or we were just really hungry). We were also given a warm cookie for dessert.
We arrived into Houston a little ahead of schedule. We were able to use the Global Entry machines (although the machines didn't like our Nexus cards, but worked fine with our passports). We were quickly through customs and about to leave the secured area when Randy noticed that there were signs for connecting flights. We thought that this might be quicker than going out into the terminal and then back through security. We took the escalators up a level and came to a security checkpoint (which is what I was hoping to avoid). Unfortunately this checkpoint didn't have the TSA Pre-Check line, so we had to line up with the rest of the unwashed masses. But we had a long layover (over 3 hours), and it didn't take that long, so it wasn't a big deal. They moved people through there quickly, so it wasn't bad.
Once through security, we headed to the United Club lounge, where we just basically hung out until it was time to head to the gate for our flight to Edmonton.
We gave ourselves lots of time to head to the gate - which was good as we didn't realize that we had to take a train to another terminal, and that the gate was at the far end of that terminal. The plane boarded on time, and it looked like we would actually leave early, but then there was some sort of kerfuffle back in economy because some guy was upset that there was a dog on board (it was a little chihuahua that was in a kennel). I'm not sure what the problem was, but the captain ended up having to go back and have a talk with the guy. It's never a good sign when the Captain has to come talk to you. Meanwhile, the flight attendant for first class was quite flustered by all this (even though she was the purser for the flight), and so we never did get the pre-departure drinks that she had taken orders for. That wasn't a big deal - my concern was that everything get settled and we get going.
We were finally in the air, and we were glad to know that this flight actually had inflight entertainment. It was the kind that you stream onto your tablet or phone. However, as this was an older A320, they didn't have any power points in the seats. My iPad was only half charged - and I didn't worry about it because I assumed that I could just charge it on the plane. (the previous 3 United flights on this trip all had power outlets, but no inflight entertainment. That makes a lot of sense - it's United, it's not supposed to make sense). But Randy reminded me that I had one of those battery rechargers in my backpack - so I used that to top up my iPad so that I could watch movies during the trip.
The food service started with drinks and warm nuts. But it took quite a while for our meal to come out. I had ordered the pasta dish and Randy ordered chicken. Apparently the pasta meals came onboard frozen, so the flight attendant explained that it was going to take a lot longer to cook. She said it would be about another 15 minutes, but I think it was close to half an hour. But it finally arrived.
The food was decent - nothing too exciting. But for dessert, we got a chocolate ice cream sundae, which was good. The sundae was a nice surprise. The rest of the flight was uneventful.
We had to go through Canadian customs when we got to Edmonton. We were able to breeze through customs using our Nexus cards, and since we didn't have any checked luggage, we were able to head straight to the parking lot to get our car (which had been running for over 30 minutes prior to our arrival at the parking lot, and note that we arrived early... glad I filled the tank), go home and sleep in our own bed.
Copyright © 2016, Polihale Consulting Ltd.