MY TRIP TO MORELIA
My trip to the city of Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico
In the last couple of days, the Boeing 737 Max – 8 was grounded pretty much everywhere, after the same plane type fell out of the sky last week, the second plane that it happened to. I guess maybe it was a reason why my flight back home was overly full.
On my way back to Canada, I was keeping myself occupied during the flight, while a six-month-old cried his heart out two seats from mine and I started writing this piece. My plane was full of gringos—white people/North Americans—who had spent their vacation in Mexico and were on their way back.
I observed from the very start that this family likes attention: from the moment the pretty mother of three came onto the plane and noticed that a few of her seats were occupied by a couple, who had read their seat numbers wrong. The purser had to come and sort out the situation, and with much joking on his part, the seats were vacated for the mother, her husband, and her three kids. At the take-off, the baby started crying. Normal procedure, so far. Kids have smaller ear tubes and they don’t know how to unblock their ears. He settled down soon after.
The lady seated beside me, dressed in summer clothes and with a deep tan and perfectly manicured nails, had come onto the plane pretty happy from too much drink. She soon sank into a near pass-out sleep with her fleece top wrapped around her.
About an hour into the flight, the baby started up again, this time he was inconsolable. The mother apparently didn’t know what to do, and the kid worked himself into a frenzy. I hadn’t known that a child can scream this loud. I considered pushing the call button to purchase the sound blocking earplugs from a flight attendant. My neighbour slowly opened her eyes and I observed the fake eyelashes separate slowly. I could feel her pain.
After about ten minutes, an unrelated, elderly lady got involved and offered to walk the boy. She took him from the mom and started talking to the munchkin in a friendly tone, while walking a few steps in each direction in the aisle, back and forth, away from the mother. It did the trick. Peace, again. What would the world be without experienced grandmothers? She returned the now quiet baby to his mother.
Back to the subject Morelia. When I started living in Mexico for part of the year, I promised myself to take trips deeper into this country. With a wonderful climate, generous and friendly people and with many ancient cultural sites, natural wonders, and a clearly documented history of colonization to explore, the options were unlimited. I have to admit that tracing and uncovering the origin of European domination outside of Europe has become a bias of mine. I cannot leave well enough alone, as some of my friends will know. Stirring the pot, they might say, poking the bear, my Indigenous friend would say. I would call it tourism beyond the surface, digging below the superficial.
Maybe I am indeed somewhat of a rebel, but it is mainly my curiosity that drives me, and above all, the thirst for knowledge and understanding how the world came to be. How did we end up in the current (political) world and what makes people different from each other? It is important for me to know what the inhabitants of other countries experienced, which may influence how they stand in the world.
I like the places where I can see the thousands of footsteps that wore down steps of ancient sites, the faint traces of a mural, a part-statue, or an artifact that has survived earthquakes or centuries of being buried. Mexico is full of these, from the Aztecs in the south and the Maya beyond that territory, who left many traces of their existence, and many sites are not yet discovered. The tribes before them left indicators of their existence as well. Many Indigenous peoples with their own languages (NOT dialects!) inhabited Mexico, according to an estimate, during the 1500s around 20 million inhabitants existed in Central America.
Oh, boy, the mother of the little crier wants the seating arrangements rearranged so hubby can look after the little boy (and the other two children). The baby has started screaming again and big tears are rolling down his red cheeks. Daddy’s not doing a great job, and the boy reaches for his mommy, seated behind the dad. Sure enough, baby gets his way. Mom reaches over and takes him back. One-naught for him. This is how you make criers, mom.
Babies are masters of the power struggle: their need is stronger than yours. This is natural and right. It’s up to mom to distract or find ways to sooth and meet the needs of the baby. I noticed he has no bottle. Mom is holding a cup with a spout. He seems too young for that and I suspect he needs more comfort. I heard her say: “He was already crabby this morning.” Hmm, maybe teething? She is loudly talking to the boy with a piercing voice. My neighbour has given up snoozing and starts reading her Kindle. She hasn’t spoken a word yet to me.
So, about Morelia.
I am downloading photos, illustrations for the blog post. The baby whines now. He knows he has success with making noises, and the cost-benefit ratio for him have improved as time goes by. The flight attendant just gave me another Granville Island pale ale, free of charge. He knows without words exchanged that I need it.
I seem to not get to the rest of the story about Morelia. The flight is bumpy and I need to stop. We are flying over deep ravines and gullies with snow-covered mountain tops, I suspect Nevada. I will finish off the post after I get home. We are advised to stay put and keep our seatbelt on. An elderly couple is getting up and a couple of the flight attendants call out to stay put. The woman is waving a food container around. “We’ll pick up the garbage when it’s safe to do so,” the attendant closest to me calls from the back of the plane. “Please stay in your seat with your seatbelt on.” An awful smell reaches my nose, I think it’s a dirty diaper.
The “buckle-up” sign beeps off and all of a sudden, the aisle is filled with people chatting and standing in a long line-up to the toilet, all the way to the middle of the plane. It starts to get bumpy again and the seatbelt signs beep on, and the intercom sends everybody back to their seats. One senior-aged woman in the line-up complains: “If you have to go, you have to go, seatbelt sign or not. We are not teenagers.”
I have to think of my flight attendant-daughter who has to keep such an ornery planeload in line. I feel your pain, sweetheart. A planeload of half-sauced tourists on their way home is no fun! We must be flying above Idaho now, but it’s dark and I can not see.
I was unable to book my seat beforehand and I am seated in a window seat on row 20, in the far back, so am trapped. After a bottle of water and one and a half pale ale, I really need to go. The time will come that we’ll have to wear an astronaut’s diaper-system for flights if this stuffing of planes in tiny seat continues. One more hour to go. I cannot last that long. After a while, I reluctantly touch my sleeping neighbour’s arm and have to repeat my request before she understands. She wakes up her spouse, sleeping next to her, and they get out into the aisle.
When I return, relieved, the people behind our row—two senior women who look alike and an elderly man—the women glare at me. There is no smile. What’s their problem?
The baby is wide awake and gets entertained, and as soon as he squeaks, he gets passed on, from daddy to mommy and back. He is having a ball. I feel for the parents for when they will be back in their everyday environment and baby must be broken again from the power play he has won during this flight. The rest of the flight he screams in bursts and whines.
Finally, we land at the Kelowna airport. The deplaning goes fairly orderly, but the man seated behind me could not wait until I had wrestled the carrier with my cat from the row, and he pushed himself past my butt. “Oh, you in a hurry?” I say and let him pass. “Yes, I am,” he said.
We all catch up with each other in the line-up, standing around before the customs agents. “You got a dog in there?” the angry-looking woman asked me. She calls to her husband in front of me. “Let that lady with the animal go first,” she admonishes. The man falls back obediently. She is chatting up everybody in the line-up now. “What a lovely boy now,” she calls to the family sitting on the bench in the hall getting organized with all their many cabin bags and children. The man grumbles to me: “Before you know it she’ll know everybody.” “Is that right?”
I declare my three bags of Mexican coffee and the bottle of tequila, get a pass and escape the airport, my suitcase already sitting beside the carousel, and soon am on my way in a taxi. At home, Mimi was very happy to be let out and pushes out of the carrier when I open the zippers. She had peed on the doggie training pad and that was all.