No matter where you travel by air, there is that sensation of release from captivity when you arrive at your destination and make it to that exit that says “ground transportation.” Air travel is all about being held captive in secure zones, climate controlled compounds that are sealed off from the outside world. No windows open, no courtyards exist. Occasionally an airport or airline employee will breach the bubble by opening a security door. The blast of air and sound seems odd, creating a momentary clash between the real world and the contrived one built for our safety.
In Mérida in particular, the weary traveler is confronted with shock of the real. Taxi ticket in hand, you exit the terminal and the hot, soggy air covers you, hitting you in the face with a wallop. Everything is damp. The pavement might be slick from a passing shower, and you nearly slip. The last 10 hours was fluorescent lights, intense security and air conditioning. Even your last few minutes on the plane, the tv broadcast Chuck Scarborough on News 4 New York, but now you’re happily (or not) cut off from all that.
Right now Paul and I are in an hushed airport lounge with wall-to-wall carpeting and free snacks. It is comfy, but excruciating waiting to arrive in Mérida. When did I become so blasé about creature comforts? Bring on the heat, humidity and sweaty concrete.