slowly surely + xyz : a journey of (re)discovery

I AM. Unilingual

By InspiredJourney


In my ‘comfy’ chair, while busying myself with things, I get CS notification my request has been accepted!


I immediately open the email and am met with the most enthusiasm I’ve experienced in a while.

She’s apologetic someone, and positively responding to host me.

Camila, seemingly gripped by her own needless guilt, apologized for not responding sooner and essentially poured her heart into expressing hope that it was not too late to host me.

I. Was. Amazed!

Sending a quick response to thank this kind soul, her energy persisted during the correspondence, and I, ever thankful.

But, a different reality crept in. There was a sliiiight glitch that needed to be sorted.

During and as a result of my living life by the seat of the pants moment, I misread the time of arrival into the city.

I won’t share the *cough* seven hour *cough* gap in time I failed to notice during booking, here.

Scheduled to arrive at 11p.m., I message Camilla requesting the best time to call the following morning. I had zero interest in showing up to her home at that late hour! because: my Southern Belle manner.

Stating 9a.m. was the best, left me knowing I was in for a lonng night of torture.

Obviously a giving person, she insisted I call upon arrival; citing she may be up late having a night out with friends.

I didn’t feel great about it, but agree to call.

Midnight to 9a.m., no words.

My first time in to Mexico, ever, and I would spending that night partaking in another first: sleeping overnight in an airport!


Though I’m in a few nomadic traveler groups online, and knew sleeping in the airport was common, I had never done it.

Oddly enough, I was okay with this fact that I’d ‘pop my cherry’, because, experiences(?). This part of my life is all about having experiences and not aiming for perfection, right? Right! Yeah. #Sarcasm

(Okay, here’s where we insert a little background information onnn, weeelll, ummm claustrophobia, anxiety and my general aversion to flying here!)

This. is. my. first. flight. in. a. long. time.

Long. Damn. Time.

I actually hadn’t flown since returning to San Francisco from Paris a few years back.

Bordering call.

I am self-monitoring to see if there’s a change my, my mood, etc.


Ticket scanned, onto the jetbridge.

No change in heart rate.

Waiting to walk onto the plane.

Historically walking onto planes has been when panic takes a firm seat in my mind.

Heart is beating normally, mind not racing.


A drastic improvement, I am questioning what’s happened with me at this point.

Walking the aisle, locate my seat, buckled in and assess.

Sweaty palms? Nope.

Plane taxis, gains speeds and lifts off.

Me: surprisingly calm.

In my mind, I’m not dramatic but sooo giving thanks to Krishna, Jah, Mother Theresa, Mary, Yahweh, Buddha, Bhagavad Gita, Saint Whomever, all of them, including but not limited to flax seeds and my mostly fruit-based way of eating!  HAHAHA!!!

On the ascent, the only feeling I register is total elation.

Gratitude rushes over me.

So thankful as I think of the years and numerous private talks with myself; for the fortitude it took to arrive at this very moment.

I cry. [awwww]

I was so moved by the fact that I had survived the years that came before this moment.

Three hours later, we land.

Off-board and walking through this foreign environment, I check the energy of both the place and myself in this place.

It feels different, and me? Still me.

Border control was #friendlynotfriendly.

With border control card in hand, I step to a side counter to fill it.

That side-step wasn’t acceptable.

It was this, and only this moment, that a crucial point dawned on me; my Spanish skills are, for all intents and purposes, non-existent. I mean, I know the very basics.

This was not enough to remotely understand anything beyond the very firm tone of one very short agent. With strong upright posture, she’s instructing me to move back and away from the agent desks and use the counter provided to us aliens visitors.

I get body language coupled with a firm tone of voice no matter the language, and thus understood, and followed her orders.

Card filled and stamped, said agent gives additional instructions to “not lose” this card while waving me through.

Next stop in the cattle line: bag check for ‘contraband’.

This, one chuckle-inducing moment.

Given my mgear is packed tight, I had a reusable shopping tote filled with some miscellaneous items and a few bits of food, on my shoulder.

I arrive, meeting two short and ‘firm’ women this time.

They ask if I am carrying any fruit or other non-permitted items.

I’m Not.

They proceed to confirm.

If you’ve traveled internationally, you know border agents tend to not be shy or intimidated. I mean, they have a bit of ‘perceived’ power and display it in various ways.

However, these two glove-wearing ladies, look at this brightly colored benign bag, with furrowed brows cautiously peering in, daring to not touch (literally holding their hands to their chest as if frightened and ready to run at the first sight of … ), and thoroughly NOT checking the bag.

Given, there were no malicious items and my being exhausted, I was okay with their half-cocked check. I couldn’t help think of the feeling of being overly scrutinized, damn near stripped naked at the border of a more war-fueled ‘wall building’ rigid country; The US. In Mexico, I was just made to feel different, foreign and a tad bit dirty.

Finally through the gates.

¡Dios mío, hace frío!

Yes, sadly, in keeping with the trend of this trip, I am met with brisk cold wind.

I sit on a decorative, but cold steel bench.

I call Camila.

She doesn’t answer.

The wind whips through and cuts.

I walk the airport, looking for an inconspicuous corner to tuck myself.


This airport not very welcoming … lol.

I see nothing but dark grey stone benches and the floor.

I take the escalator to the top floor.

Very limited in number, all seats are taken by ‘the more experienced’.

They, seemingly familiar, knew where to plant themselves for the night; on a high floor and away from the wind bursting through the airport’s nonstop sliding doors.

For brief moment, I feel the onset terrible loneliness and displacement.

I allow that feeling to come, and go.

A couple of hours in, still awake and I strike up a conversation with a man on his computer.

In Mexico on a business trip, the person that was to pick him up from the airport was a no call/no-show. The organization had dropped the ball in proper planning.

I felt bad for him.

Minutes later, I spotted people seated or laying on what I can only describe as stadium type seating, made of the same dark grey stone. UGH!

Feeling desperate and delirious from sleep deprivation, I walk over and join the other ‘airport prisoners’.

After greeting a couple of people (one lady from Mexico, but now residing in Atlanta, GA) and learning the stories that landed them there that night, I positioned myself, covering with a sarong to try getting some sleep.

But before I could sleep, I noticed the woman seemed a bit worried. Asking if she needed some help, I learned her phone would soon die. She was concerned she may oversleep and not catch her very early flight.

I offered to set my alarm, and did.


The only evidence that I had managed to fall asleep, was the tapping I felt and hearing “Señorita”.

The police are waking me, requesting I move.

The cleaning crew needed to scrub the stone.

Again, UGH!!!!

I sit up, look around and am the last person there … lol. Everyone else, as if they were figments of my imagination, we gone! It was a bit surreal.

I caught myself feeling even more perturbed, because the woman I had offer to assist and nearest too, hadn’t thought for one moment to rouse me, before she vanished.

This ‘experience’ was really wearing on me. I felt no one cared. Hahaha.

As my sentence came closer to an end (two hours more), I finished it by making a few trips to the restroom, converting currency and purchasing a large hot tea from Starbucks.

The clock struck and I called Camila to make sure if was okay to make my way to her house.

It was.

A confusing 15 minute circling taxi ride, one call by taxi driver to get clear directions, I arrived.

I was warmly greeted by Camila.

Later, we chat politics and cake.


3 responses to “I AM. Unilingual”

  1. […] My first cake date with Mexico. […]

  2. Christine Or says:

    It’s a mixed bag.

    Being multilingual has its benefits.
    Traveling and being able to connect more to the place is one benefit.
    But not knowing the local language can also allow you to have a different kind of freedom as well.

  3. Chris Graham says:

    Having never slept in an airport, the description sounds grueling.

    But, at least you didn’t have much luggage. Your mgear

    Check out

    It’s a great site for minimalist travelers who don’t have much time to listen to long webinars or get other info they want in short, concise notes delivered to their inbox.

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