Getting to Colombia was definitely one of the hardest things I did. I didn’t know what would happen with my phone service once I crossed boarders, I had a spare phone sitting in a repair shop in the US, and I had a car parked in a bad neighborhood. All these things I knew I’d eventually have to deal with and not having a lot of money really does make your life harder. Because of that, I decided to go with the cheapest flight, which included a layover.
Getting on the plane at LAX in the USA was a breeze. I quickly felt stupid because the hours I’d spent weighing my carry-on–which was supposed to only be 6.6 lbs by the websites standard–was in vain because it turns out, they weigh all your luggage except for your carry-on. Darn it, my mother was right. All those things I wanted to bring but left behind flashed before my eyes. After my experience in the US, I thought every airport would be a breeze but when I arrived in Mexico City, it was hell from then on.
I had 5-7 hours to spare so I took my time. I got some food in the airport. A little later I got a coffee. Then when I had 2 hours left I thought, ‘Now I’m going to walk to my departure gate’. WRONG. I couldn’t find it. I spoke to every airport worker I saw and every single worker sent me to a different place. It was like it was everyone’s first day. How is this possible? At some point, maybe after the 10th person I’d asked, I was sent through some other security place that lead me to a different half of the airport. I didn’t even know there was another half of the airport! Who designed this thing! Anyways, on the freshly discovered new half of the airport I had just as much trouble trying to find my departure gate. At some point, someone told me I had to take a shuttle to another airport and I almost cried.
After a 20 minute shuttle ride I was in another airport. I had trouble in that airport too, but eventually I got to my departure gate about 25 minutes before the plane was supposed to depart. I quickly went in the line to board and when I got to the front, the lady coldly said, “No, we didn’t call you. It’s not your turn. Sid down.” She was very smug, and I think she rather enjoyed putting me in my place. When the next group was called up, I got up again. When I got to the front, the lady said “We’re letting the C-D’s up right now,” she grabbed my ticket out of my hand, gave it a look, then handed it back to me and said, “your not a C or a D. Sit down please.” She rolled her eyes at her co-workers and when I sat down they all had their laughs. ‘How rude,’ I thought. I searched my ticket to try and find out what letter I was. I read every word on the ticket but I couldn’t find it. Perhaps it was an invisible letter that only rude airport workers could read. I was no Rosa Parks, I just made the decision to sit down and wait until every last person had boarded so I would be the very last in line.
When I gave the airport attendants my ticket and proceeded to board, someone held their hand out in front of me and said, “Wait”. I thought to myself, ‘Oh lord, what now’. They asked me why I was going to Colombia. I told them I was going to go to school to learn to teach English. They asked me who I was staying with. I said a lady I found on AirBnB…and yes that was really fun to try and translate with my sub-par Spanish skills. They asked me for her address and phone number. And of course, with the luck I was having, my phone was no longer working at this point and thus I had no proof of anything. After 3 minutes of interrogation I started to worry and I asked, “Is there a problem, am I going to be able to get on the plane? I paid a lot of money for this course and I don’t want to miss my flight!” They could probably see the panic on my face and they said, “Usually people have a ticket back home, not a one way flight.” It was like there was a jury and I was on trial.
Finally, one of the workers let me through and I walked on livid (after holding up the whole plane). I sat down and I didn’t want to talk to anyone; I’d just been through hell. Then I heard on the intercom that the plane was going to be held up for some reason. I got really nervous thinking that someone would come to my seat and escort me off, but it wasn’t me after all. Two hours later the plane took off and later on the next day, I was in Colombia.
I was happy to be here. I was happy to be in a place that looked different then where I was from even though getting their wasn’t easy.