Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Serious Roadtrip

Ready to hit the road
The semester is over, the final grades have been submitted and good-byes have been said. It's "Go Time". I have been chomping at the bit to get on the road again and the final two weeks of the semester dragged on and on and on, as they do. However it is always good to head home to regroup a bit, even if it is for only week. All things considered I have been wearing the same clothes for the better part of a year. I am going to go through my clothes that I have stored at my house like it was my birthday. I do not know what I will find but I do know it will be a welcome sight from what are becoming the dirty old rags I am currently wandering around it.

My favorite white travel pants will be taken out for one last trip. They were ripped pretty good from where I was attached by the dog a few months back. Time has taken it's toll on a coral colored long sleeve dry fit from MEC that has been with me for 15 years and 25 countries.  It is odd how you get attached to quality clothes that have served you well on the road.

Now there are the numerous Quetzel Trekkers T-shirts and singlets and the 2 items that I have undivided brand loyalty for. Columbia wrinkle free short sleeve shirts and Merrell hiking shoes/boots. After that its the markets for used (vintage) to get me through. Let's see how long the Fedora lasts.

I walked the 20 minutes to the school and arrived just after 9:00 am to wrap up the semester. Packing for me has become second nature plus I was leaving quite a few things here in Tehuacan. That meant for the first time ever my pack is ultra light. I was going to be jumping in and out of modes of transport so a light pack will be an odd treat. In and out in 15 minutes. I had a bus to catch.

 First stop, the ADO bus terminal on Indepencia Dr for the 11:30 bus to Puebla. I was meeting Scott Nydegger, a fellow teacher and housemate who left earlier for his Saturday morning ritual. Coffee, breakfast and then beer, regardless of the time. Scott has been know to knock back 3 Litres of Corona by 10:30 on a Saturday. He showed up at 11:15 stinking like a homeless guy. The only issue is when he does drink to much he tend to pontificate ALLOT but mostly about American Politics. It's his life and over the years I have developed the innate ability to shut people out so he catches on quickly without issue.
The 140 peso, 2 hour ride to Puebla was easy aboard the ADO comfortable and modern bus terminal. It was easy and uneventful. Once there we grabbed a "secure cab" from the CAPU bus terminal to the Estralla Roja terminal where I was to catch my bus direct to the Mexico City Airport which I think is a fantastic idea. Scott was anxious to find a room the night and a beer (he was catching his flight in the morning). I had zero desire to start drinking so I grabbed my ticket for the bus to the airport. I had only had a 15 minute wait for the 2:30 departure. I payed my 290 pesos, walked through security and arrived at the gate to which I was given water, soda, cookies and headphones..all free, yes sir FREE. Not a huge expense to be sure but what a nice gesture and I needed headphones. This bus was the luxury liner in the ADO fleet where as Grey Hound, Grey Coach or any other North American bus service can not compare. Next stop was the Mexico City Airport 3 hours away. I was asleep in about 10 minutes.

I made a big mistake in my over zealousness (is that word?) to get to the airport. My flight was leaving just after midnight and the ADO bus dropped me off at the main entrance to terminal 1 at 5:00. I can kill 7 hours easy enough especially with Aeropuerto Internacional Benito Juárez being big, modern, clean, bright and filled with food vendors of every type. I love wandering airports and hunger was not going to be an issue, but lugging my rucksack around for 4 hours would be a pain in the ass. I found the AC check in but was told they open 3 hours before the flight departs. I grabbed a huge torta, found a table, put my ear buds in and fired up the Ipod mini all the while watching the world go by. At 9:00 I wandered to the AC desk, checked in and was through security by 9:15 without ever having to take off my shoes.  I was airborne in no time, asleep just as quick and waking up to the morning lights of the Toronto Skyline.  The flight was as uneventful as was the walk through Customs and Immigration..surprisingly.
The long walk from the flight to immigration was a great way to wake up after a Red Eye flight. The airport was eerily quiet at 6:00 am. There were maybe 10 people in the huge holding pen that is Pearson Airport Customs and Immigration. There is a new process where you put your Customs and Immigration form into a machine, which spits out a copy. Efficient but a critical waste of paper if you asked me. Anyways I took my verified papers toward the customs desks. There were two desks open and each were talking to someone. I was the next in line which I have never experienced at Pearson. There were two officers standing where the line would begin. One young officer waved me over and we went through the process right there. I have a one minute conversation with a younger woman officer who was polite and kind of funny. I was processed an on my way to baggage in no time flat. Who ever came up with the new processing process deserved a promotion. A job well done Canada Customs.
Next up, the painful experience that is the luggage carousel. Experience has proven to me that I needed to be ready for the elbows up roller derby experience and  a long wait. So I found my place and started to muster up the carousel attitude when "boom" there its was, my rucksack coming up the ramp. WTF is going on? From landing at 6:00 am, through to custom then off to luggage I was on my way by 6:45. Efficiency may have rued the morning but my state of confusion clouded my mind.

When I took the UP express last September to the airport it cost me $25.00 one way. The price now was $12.00 and although I had time I did not feel like battling the TTC. I was up for the rocket to Kipling Station, the Subway East to St. George Station, switch trains and jump on the University line to Union Station. That would take no less than an hour but the UP express was a quiet and quick 20 minutes. I pulled into Union Station and wandered aimlessly and a bit perplexed at both the ghost town and the emptiness. Union Station has been under construction for over 2 years and everything that I knew no longer existed, figuratively and literally. I needed to regroup and coffee was my highest priority but Timmies was not where it usually was. "The Horror, The Horror"
When the light bulb went off and I remembered that I lived in Toronto for 15 years I calmed down and clued in that there was a Timmies by the Royal York Hotel so off I skipped with visions of Maple Dips dancing in my head. I had 90 minutes until the final leg of my trip so with large coffee and 2 maple dips in my grubby paws I sat at the window and woke up with Toronto.

Union Station and the GO Train oh man I have done this miserable journey many times as a commuter. As a traveller the GO (Government of Ontario) train service is a decent regional train system. I managed to get on the Niagara Express which is a direct train to Niagara Falls with just a few stops along the way (Exhibition, Port Credit, Oakville, Burlington, St. Catharines) with a travel time of about 2 hours. It was nap time again. The only trouble with nap time was the train was filled with happy and excited weekend and day trippers. That makes a 2 hour trip fun and fast because most people are open to chatting and conversation is easy. The porter was also in a great mood and added a bit of humor into the spirit of the journey.

With all the transportation and connections I had to make this trip went flawless BUT I know the way the world works. I have a trip back to Tehuacan that includes stops in Cleveland and Houston before I arrive in Puebla. From there it's a late night cab right to the Centro where I have a room booked. Then an early morning but Tehuacan. I have to be prepared for every shitty situation and douche bag I have to deal with along the way. It was flawless and enjoyable getting here so it only stands to reason it will be the Poseidon Adventure on the return.

24 hours later it was time for the famous Jake's Fries

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