Saturday, August 25, 2012

Living Here: Waiting Around

Cancún Airport, Terminal 2
Cancún Airport -- I've been traveling a lot, and inevitably that means I spend time waiting around. I've found ways to minimize wait time, but occasionally am attracted by a bargain airfare that includes a less-convenient itinerary. I don't look forward to waiting, but I've found that such time isn't as heavy on my hands as it once was.

Take the trip I am in the midst of right now. Due to the nature of early-morning bus schedules and to avoid arriving late for morning flight out of Cancún, I took a bus from Mérida at midnight, arriving in Cancún around 4:00AM. This gave me some hours to kill before I needed to be at the airport.

So I did what I often do in this situation: I walked across the street from the Cancún Terminal to the Sanborn's restaurant, which is open 24 hours. After a leisurely breakfast and a long linger over coffee (which fortunately is pretty good there), I returned to the terminal and caught the half-hour shuttle to the airport.

As I write this, I still have quite a bit of time to wait, but it isn't bothering me. I watch people, walk around, read, and in this case, work on a blog post. Sometimes I find myself chatting with interesting people.

I think that living in Mexico has taught me patience, particularly with things I can't control. Waiting is something we just have to do. I try to make the best of it.

I don't believe that "time is money." It's much more valuable than money. I've also absorbed the fact that being "productive" or busy doesn't necessarily equate to virtue, so I am perfectly happy to be alone with my thoughts, or quiet my mind and drift for a little while. I don't feel like time spent waiting is "wasted" time.

An advantage of having plenty of time when traveling is that delays or occasional long lines don't bother me. I have little cause to worry about missing my flight. I can let others cut in line if they are running late. No sweat.

Passing through a busy destination like this one gives me plenty of time to observe people who are stressed, rushing around on their vacation, tensely glancing at watches and making phone calls while waiting in airport lines. I am happy to have left a lot of that way of life behind.

Cancún Bus Terminal, 4:00AM


  1. I appreciate your perspective, Marc...

    having traveled this summer I am now reminded of the gift of time and unscheduled days. I once again found my patience and positive acknowledgement for differences! People watching, daydreaming and wandering were the favorite parts of my summer...

    I am now back in the school system/calendar/daily schedule and understanding how easy it is to be caught in the web of "busy-ness". I love that you have reminded me to "leave this behind" even if it is only for moments of each day.

  2. Great point you make, Marc. I look forward to not having the time restraints of work and the worry, when traveling, that a delay could prevent me from getting back on time. Our travels usually wind up getting us home the evening before having to return to work. Missing a flight can be stressful. Our last trip to Merida had a 12-hour layover in Houston. We enjoyed spending the entire day with Alan's family before the 7PM flight. Other times, the connections are so tight that we only can relax once we board the plane. It will be really nice to be able to not worry about having time restraints. A good book or my laptop can keep me occupied for hours.

    Enjoy your trip!

  3. I'm so happy to be away from that insanity! I sure felt that energy jumping off of other people when I was in Austin. It was amazing how many significant things became huge dramas. I almost thought folks might be creating drama on purpose, as though stepping up to the place to solve something they had messed up in the first place, would make them significant.

  4. You visit the topic of people watching at the airport, the slice of humanity that we do not see every day. I had a big lay-over last week in Atlanta, I parked myself at an intersection an enjoyed the flavors we humans come in.

  5. it is indeed interesting to see how living here has mellowed us. taking it easy and not rushing, well not to much is second nature now. just like when the plane lands, we no longer have to be on our feet and crowded in the aisle before the brakes are set, and we no longer race to get to immigration. it will all happen when it happens, rushing to get there won't make it happen any faster!

  6. Very nice lessons there, Marc. People watching can be lots of fun.

    One way that folks leaning toward the introvert side of the introversion-extraversion spectrum benefit is exactly in the situation you described. To be able to watch others, to gather one's thoughts is not such a trial.

    Extreme extroverts are probably not to blame for their inability to do this--it's kind of innate. But if we all learn more about how others behave, it helps us all get along. (An extreme extrovert would not be able to sit around pensively--their needs are different.)

    Let me share something I heard from such an extrovert about a trip: she was actually upset because the stranger she was sitting next to in the airport terminal wanted to read his book instead of listen to her.

    (You're so correct, too--the coffee as Sanborns is really good! I'm also partial to their Molletes Sanborns, and the relaxed ambiance--one can eat leisurely, connect to WiFi, and such niceties without being hurried away.)

  7. Wonderful post with the beauty of the thought with insight.
    That is the why, We at the U S, Peoples is hurried and same time they are so unhappy.
    We think that time is money we must hurry up and spending time without the purpose of making money "wasted".

    Happy trip and Take your heart along with you!

  8. You are so right about the change in our perspective. When I first moved to Merida I thought it odd that Mexicans didn’t bring a book to read while they waited at the doctor’s, the airport, or where ever. Then I realized Mexicans are so social that they immediately strike up a conversation with whoever is within ear shot. Until your post I hadn’t realized how much I have changed. I now enjoy and try to participate in the spontaneous “party” that occurs when Mexicans wait.

  9. I agree that living in Mexico changes your outlook on so many things, including time, and in my experience they have definitely been changes for the better.

  10. Travel isn't what it used to be... but neither is anything else! Just as we must adapt to changes in our bodies and thought processes, we have to deal with a changing travel industry too... change... change....change. We can either embrace or be freaked-out by it. I choose the first option. I don't need to do anything at all if the wait is under 3 hours. But for longer ones, I always carry my sketch pad and pencils. I draw anything that comes into my line of sight. People walk over, take a peek and we talk a bit sometimes. And when the light is too poor to draw, I have my iTouch. What a truly marvelous invention it is. I have enough songs on mine to last for 35 days. Now I ask you? Could a flight delay be longer than that?


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