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Flying Mexicans

Flying Mexicans

Mexican bicyclist by Rodo Padilla

Mexican bicyclist by Rodo Padilla

Every culture is different.  Enjoying those differences is what traveling is all about.

August 4, 2007

Omar and I always laugh.

The flight from Newark to Atlanta is always very quiet and civilized.  Business people with those space alien phones sprouting from their ears, talking into space.  Older couples visiting the grandchildren.  The plane boards in an orderly fashion—“We are now boarding rows 14 through 25…”.  Everyone lines up by seat number, greets the pilot, carefully stows their overhead luggage, and sits down with a book.

The same atmosphere prevails in Atlanta.  Lots of bustle, but with people going places in an orderly fashion.  Smooth.

Until you get to the Guadalajara gate.

Everyone seems to know everyone else.  Families are camped out on whole rows of seats, eating, surrounded by boxed microwave ovens and Nintendo games and oddly shaped parcels tied with string.  Father wears a cowboy hat and mother has a handful of passports.  Tiny grandparents tend babies.

You are no longer in the United States.  This could be the Parque Central in Zacatecas.

“We are now boarding seat numbers 35 to 45.”  There is a flurry of activity and everyone rushes to the gate, waving tickets.  “I have seat number 17!”  “Can we board now?”

The flight attendants are not amused.  Red faced, they raise their voices.  “Everyone please sit down.  We are only boarding seat numbers 35 to 45.”  Then, resigned– “That is seat number 35, seat number 36, number 37, number 38…”  One would think that the instructions are relatively clear, but there are still people with questions.

“Please have your ticket out and identification in your hand.  Please.  Pretty please.”  A family with seats in row 20 and 21 hold up the line as they search through luggage for their identification.

Inside the plane, people visit.  They count the heads of their loved ones to make sure Gramma wasn’t left sitting in the waiting room.  They clean and jerk weighty packages above their heads, trying to cram them into impossibly small overhead bins.  They match tickets and seat numbers, and then sit somewhere else.

Stewardesses try to pass down the jam-packed aisle, the look on their face clear– “I get the Paris route next year or I go into construction work.”  The stewardesses rarely speak Spanish.  “Please take your seats por favor.”  “You will need to check that bag underneath, senor.”  “I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you are saying…”

On the plane to Atlanta I often have an empty seat next to me.  The plane to Guadalajara is always full, and it’s a circus.

Are flying Mexicans unruly?  Rude?  Uncivilized?  Well, some are, yes.  So are some Gringos and some Germans and some Japanese.

Cultural differences are what make flights with Mexicans so interesting.

Gringos are very rule oriented.  If you have seat number 12 you don’t jump up when they call seat number 15.  Mexicans are much more flexible.  They know that if seat 15 is called five other people will ask if seat 17 or 10 or 21 can board, and they want to be there just in case the attendant lets them.  They know there is a carry-on limit, but this fluffy comforter set was such a good buy and it only takes up one whole bin and it’s just this once until next time and Tia Chela asked for a pressure cooker and…

When the passengers are finally settled the plane takes off, the little movie screens scroll down, and everyone automatically closes their window blind and goes to sleep.  I leave my blind open a couple of inches and crouch down so I can see out.  I like to look for cities and mountains and the Gulf of Mexico.

I am generalizing about flying Mexicans, of course, and am lumping together incidents from many years of travel.  But you will surely notice a different atmosphere on a plane with primarily Mexican travelers.  Sit back and enjoy it.  It is good practice for when you land in Guadalajara.

Dan and Omar

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Categories

A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.