From Oaxaca to Raleigh: 24 Hours Door to Door

This was no accident!  No delays!  We planned it this way, hoping to sleep on the overnight bus from Oaxaca to Mexico City.  No such luck.  We boarded the ADO GL at 12:45 a.m. on Wednesday morning and arrived home in Pittsboro at 1 a.m. on Thursday morning.  I’m thinking that these overnight buses where one “sleeps and wakes up refreshed” at his/her destination is overrated.  Or, perhaps only suitable for those under 40 (or maybe 30).  Since our round trip flight was RDU to MEX there didn’t seem to be many other options.  With earplugs, my pillow, and a soft hat to go over my eyes, I still heard the guy across the aisle snoring.  Each time the bus wheels crossed over the median (either because the driver was swerving around the curves or was in passing mode) and hit those highway bumps that warn drivers they are straying into the other lane, I woke up.  I calculate that I may have dozed in intermittent 10 minute intervals throughout the 6 hour trip along the two lane winding highway through the Sierra Madre del Sur heading north toward Mexico City.  I have dreamed of taking the 12-hour bus from Oaxaca to San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas.  Perhaps I will reconsider, or make a midway, day-long stop over in Juchitan, and travel by day.

The ADO GL has curtains that cover the windows and reclining seats, (and if it’s a day trip–non-stop movies).  Stephen thinks that the UNO is the superior bus for overnights because there is a footrest that comes up to seat level, creating a bed-like extension for your body.

When we arrived at the huge TAPO bus station in Mexico City it was still dark outside.  Bleary-eyed travelers lined up for the washroom to comb their hair and brush their teeth.  Mothers with toddlers in hand, business men and women in suits carrying laptops, students traveling during summer vacation, families coming to visit relatives poured out of buses from all corners of Mexico.  Bus travel is efficient and relatively inexpensive.  Our one way (sencilla) ticket from OAX to MEX was 1120 pesos for two.  Luggage is tagged and every piece is checked for ownership.

We hauled our luggage past independent taxi drivers prowling the terminal to the “secure taxi” ticket office.  Here, for 85 pesos we bought tickets for a licensed, authorized taxi to take us to the airport across town.  It was easy, other than we were sleepless and I was hauling a giant suitcase packed with Talavera ceramics and Juchitan huipiles.  Big, but still a tad under 50 lbs. weight limit.

After checking in and going through security (a breeze), we went up to the second floor of the International Terminal and bought two day-passes ($35 USD each) to get into the VIP Lounge.  It was 8:30 a.m. and our flight didn’t leave until 12:05 p.m.  This was well-worth the price because this “club” is cushy — with lots of great food, chicken sandwiches, fresh veggies (carrot, jicama, celery) with picante chili dip, fruit, pastries, and unlimited supplies of juices, sodas, and inexpensive beer and wine.  If you think of what you would spend on restaurant meal in the airport, the cost diminishes considerably.  And, there’s wi-fi for Internet addicts like me!

In Houston, we had a 4-1/2 hour layover and we used passes to get into the Continental President’s Club, the food a disappointment compared to Mexico City, but a welcome respite nevertheless.  I have learned that I do not book flights with less than 1-1/2 hour layovers when returning into the POE.  It’s a bummer to worry about getting through immigration, then customs and then security to make a flight with minutes to spare.  It’s not a pretty sight to be running through the concourse sweating and hoping they haven’t closed the gate, and then you’re stuck because the next flight out is overbooked.  Summer, Thanksgiving and Christmas is especially brutal for airport travel.  Give yourself a breather and get home a little later.  It’s worth it.

All our flights departed and arrived on time.  When we landed at 10:45 p.m., Stephen went to parking lot to get the car while I waited for the luggage.  When I walked outside, it was a steambath, typical North Carolina summer weather, hot, humid, and reminiscent of Juchitan and the southern Pacific coast of Oaxaca.  Thinking about that made my re-entry a little easier.

One response to “From Oaxaca to Raleigh: 24 Hours Door to Door