Tuesday, March 14, 2006



A bit of trivia: México City lies almost exactly east of the Big Island of Hawaii.

The trip got off to a slow start. At Hilo's airport, I discovered that Hawaiian Air's computers were down, and boarding passes were being written by hand. Not optimal. The agent nicely hand-wrote my frequent flyer number on mine, but I'm a little skeptical that I'll get those miles without a lot of red tape. As happens often - though not every time - security found my backpack full of cameras, laptop accessories and network gear irresistible, and had to wipe everything with those nice little round pads to make sure I hadn't used any of it around explosives. If it weren't for their efforts, my cameras would be more dusty.

The flight to Honolulu was routine enough, but with the computers down in Hilo, I'd opted to retrieve my tote bag of clothes in Honolulu and check it back in. This meant getting off the plane at the inter-island terminal, going down to baggage claim, getting my bag, lugging it to the far end of the main terminal (a nice walk, less so with a tote bag and a backpack, both large and heavy), checking it back in at Continental, and going through security again with my backpack. Of course, this all went quickly enough that a half-hour after I got off the plane from Hilo, I was getting a bite to eat... and my layover was almost 3 hours. Oh, the drudgery.

From Honolulu to Houston, I had a bulkhead seat. Not too bad. Could've had a little more leg room. The food was decent, and I slept a lot. In Houston, I stopped to do some shopping at a store in terminal E that sold souvenirs related to the Johnson Space Center, and still had no problem catching my connecting flight. This leg was on an older 737 (-300/-500 class) and I was a little worried about my backpack fitting, but it made it into the overhead compartment just fine. On the way back, I'll be aboard a smaller regional jet, and I fear I may have to gate-check it.

Flying into México City, one realizes two things:
  1. México City is big. Really big. Really, really big. If you think Los Angeles sprawls, you should see México City.
  2. México City is hazy enough that you can't easily figure out where it ends.
Things went pretty quickly at the airport. I explained to Customs that I had brought one camera too many, but they let me in without charging me any duty (gracias!). Then I changed a bit of money, bought a ticket for an authorized taxi, and got to the hotel rapidly.

The hotel, for its part, is wonderful. A glass-envelope exterior, broadband in every room (a network jack, but of course I have two wireless routers with me...) and generally chic. Frommer's calls it "the hot hotel in the city's most stylish neighborhood." It's the kind of hotel where there's no phone book in the room... but there are a dozen style magazines on the desk. It's got a pool, gym, jacuzzi and nightclub of sorts on the roof, and is apparently the place to be seen. So far, I'm hiding in my room. :)

Anyway, I'm settling in nicely, and have one more day before things get totally busy.

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