Baltimore to Border Town

I’m getting whiplash. Which is cool, because it’s the good kind, where I’m spinning into new places so quickly that I end up exploring an antiquated military ship one day, to lounging by a pool at the edge of Mexico the next. The only thing I can keep track of is the date (numerical, don’t ask me what day of the week it is), the time in Denver (does my wristwatch have a purpose once I leave my base?), and my average steps per day (15,000 - thanks iPhone!).

Things you can 100% expect me to no longer have knowledge of:

1.)    What time zone you’re in, or what time zone I am in. I know it’s dark, and we just landed, and I’m sleepy. I know my alarm will go off, a bus will pick me up, and I’ll try to call someone to say hello and you’ll yell at me because it’s 3AM in the morning wherever you are and don’t I know that you have a real job and I can’t keep texting and calling at obscene hours because you think my plane had an accident or someone is ill?! WELL HOW THE HELL WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW? …I was supposed to know, I’m sorry, putting your time zone in my world clock RIGHT NOW, I swear.


2.)    My schedule next month, next week, or any day that is more than two days from now. I have no flipping idea, I’m sorry. Isn’t that exciting, though? No? You mean you can’t drop everything to see me when I show up in your city with less than three hours’ notice? Uh, my parents did it… why can’t you? Guess I know who really cares.


3.)    Any sort of timely news. Unless it’s about an airline, chances are I won’t have a moment to catch up on news until my trip is finished because I’m either flying, sleeping, or exploring. This is probably the most difficult aspect for me, since I like to stay informed. All I ask is that when I start calling you in a tizzy because “special investigators” have been hired and HOLY CRAP IS THIS THE FINAL STRAW and you’ve known for 48 hours… bear with me. Catch me up, and I’ll be forever thankful.


However, there are also new fancy things I now DO have knowledge of, which I can add to my list of travel tips:


*** PHOTOS** tap on right or left to see next*** the front patio at the Renaissance - Renaissance Pool view from my balcony - McCallen flower shop - Maryland crab that I decimated - Baltimore parade that I stumbled on accidentally - the most beautiful Barnes & Noble that is ever to exist - Baltimore view from way way high - the USS Constellation in the Baltimore harbor ***


1.)    The Baltimore water taxi is full of more lies and false promises than the airline industry – and I can make jokes like that, because I work for the airlines. I bought a $14-dollar day pass to ride the water taxi to Fort McHenry and catch some views, and then proceeded to wait for two hours as one never showed. And I’m not hesitant about admitting I might be an idiot; I asked three separate harbor employees if I was in the right spot. I was.


2.)    However, the Baltimore Barnes & Noble might be the most beautiful chain bookstore I’ve ever seen. Sure, it’s no buried library in the pockets of Rome, but the building used to be a power plant and instead of destroying it, some genius decided to weave the books through and around the pre-existing metal structures. Plus, the store has a magnificent view of the harbor which, I hate to admit, puts Chicago’s Navy Pier to shame.


3.)    Baltimore is REALLY proud of its history. Or maybe this is just my perception because I haven’t spent a ton of time on the east coast? Expect lots of signs describing historical battles, ships and other prominent events. If you’re into that stuff (I am for about 45 minutes, and then I want to go on my own adventure) then Baltimore will fit your fancy.


4.)    McAllen, Texas has the second most haunted hotel in the state. Seriously. The hotel is called the Renaissance Casa de Palmas, and while it is beautiful, it is most assuredly occupied by some other worldly presence. According to an employee, the ghost’s name is Roxy, and she’s an employee who passed away in her office. She’s not a fan of their current renovations, and she’s known for creating a ruckus with the plumbing. My own shower turned off twice while I was in it, and I firmly told Roxy that I had no plans to change her hotel any further, and I actually thought it was my favorite hotel as of yet. Which was not a lie, the Spanish architecture is stunning, and I think Roxy knew I was speaking from the heart because she left me alone to shave my legs in peace following that statement.


5.)    If you need a bunch of random travel items, gimmick gifts, and shoes, go shopping in downtown McAllen. What I really needed was a pair of sunglasses and a swimsuit since I had forgotten to pack mine, and as a midwestern girl, I couldn’t function in 96 degree weather without being near a pool (Chicago women aren’t exactly witches, but the whole can’t feel cold/melt at a certain temperature… that rings somewhat true). Because I only had my credit card – amateur mistake – the woman at the checkout counter informed me by repeating “viente, viente” that I would need more items if I wanted to pay with plastic. Cool, I thought, I’ll just grab a few more items. I added toothpaste, a small manicure set, make up remover, hair bands and chapstick to my pile. The lady at the counter glanced over my selection, checked two items, looked at me firmly, and said, “Dias.” Ok, I thought, a few more items? I went back and returned with a piece of quirky carbonite jewelry I liked, some make up products I recognized, and a mini flashlight which could be useful for work. I added these to the pile, and before I’d even taken a step back, she’d emitted a frustrated, “QUINCE.” Alright, now it was time to whip out my limited Spanish. “Lo see-en-toh… can you point me to, uh, something more expensive? Mucho…expensive?” Oh god, I am being THAT American, and I haven’t even left the country. Luckily, she got the gist of my statement, and pointed to a glass case near the register. Inside, there was a selection of colorful rosaries and an artful arrangement of glass objects that seemed to be perfect for non-airline friends Denver. I’ll let you guess which picked my interest. I added my selection to the pile and together we shouted, “VIENTE!,” laughed, and shared a moment of absolute relief that I could leave the store to shamefully retell this moment of absolute idiocy somewhere else. I hope, at least, that when she shared her version of the tale, she gave proper attention to my determination to leave with the sunglasses. That, I think, takes some sort of positive attribute.


6.)    My last lesson is for my airline pals: I think we should simply accept that crew scheduling functions without an obvious logic, and if you attempt to reason out your assignments, layovers, or the mystical whim of the scheduling gods, you will only hurt your brain. Revel in the moment, or you’ll cry frustrated, dehydrated flight attendant crocodile tears as it’s taken away from you.


-        Esh