Point of View: ‘Muy Agradecidos’

Adventures at a Mexican airport

At sea in the Mexico City airport the other day, following a nine-day idyll in Zihuatanejo, I was reminded of the Bonacker, who, in Penn Station, said that he certainly knew New York City was big but he hadn’t known it had a roof over it.

We’d still be there probably if it weren’t for Rodolfo and Diana Reta, whom we’d met on the flight up from Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, and who were our advocates for two hours after we’d arrived too late to make our connection to J.F.K.

The kindness of the Retas, who faced a two-hour drive home, buoyed Mary’s faith in the goodness and gentility that can be found in the world.  

“Es un santo,” I said to Diana, who smiled as her husband, an engineer by profession, energetically advocated on our behalf with an Aeromexico clerk whose overseer was finally to tell us that it was not the airline’s fault that the plane didn’t have enough fuel to circle about, but the airport’s, for being “full.” Then why schedule a flight at such a time knowing that that might be the case, Mary persisted. To no avail, of course. We were screwed, and that was that.

I had known something was up when the pilot addressed us at length, at first in Spanish, as we began our second loop. “I understood one word,” I said to Mary. “ ‘Disculpe.’ I think it means ‘Forgive me.’ ” Soon, in English, we learned that he was about to run out of fuel and that we would have to land “at another airport.”

Which turned out to be Querétaro, north of Mexico City, and not far away, Diana was to say later, from San Miguel de Allende, where Sheridan Sansegundo, my former co-worker, lives happily — and whose invitation to visit I presume still stands.

Somehow, Rodolfo found our luggage, having spirited Mary and her sister Kitty down an obscure hallway from which others similarly perplexed had been shooed away, and, once assured that we had boarding passes for an early-morning flight, Diana and he guided us to a palatial hotel, one of a number within the airport itself, where we said our goodbyes, mine in halting and fractured Spanish. 

I tried to say we’d always remember their extraordinary kindness. I hope that came across. “Estamos muy agradecidos” would have done it, Isabel was later to tell me. 

And my brother-in-law, having been thoroughly apprised of our return trip woes, said no wonder there were so many hotels in the airport, and that we must be desperate now to go on a vacation.

But our vacation had been blissful, and, it occurs to me, had we not undergone the rigors attending the first leg of our return, we never would have met the sainted Retas.