Monday, May 28, 2012

One Way Tickets - Our Story

We were sitting in the airport waiting for the flight home.  Neither of us wanted to go back.  We wanted to wash our clothes and go somewhere else that was new, some place different.  It wasn’t that we didn’t like our home or enjoy our life, but something else was calling to us.  The romantic thing would be to call it wonder lust.  Maybe we’d been subscribing to International Living magazine for too long.  Whatever it was, and is, it was a feeling that wouldn’t go away.

We did continue to go home though, trip after trip.  But we kept talking about how we could get away more often.  We could do house trades, or we could sell our house and all of our belongings, or we could get a house sitter, or we could rent out our house, or….our minds spun around and around unable to reach a conclusion.  Then we met Jillian on a trip to Mexico.  She was house sitting and had been for many years.  That was how she lived her life.  It seemed like something that we could do too.  It seemed like the time was right.

Two months later, we were listed on several websites seeking house sitting assignments.  All of our belongings were stashed in a 10x30 storage unit and our home was leased out for year.  We were ready to embark upon life on the road, with 2 carry-on suitcases each, 2 laptops, and a cell phone with an international calling plan.  

We’d done the research, lots of it.  We had applied for several house sitting opportunities, put together profiles and reference letters, interviewed via phone, e-mails and Skype.  Our bills were all paperless and accessible to pay on-line, what little mail we were expecting was going to a family member.  We’d notified banks and credit card companies of our plans, paid our taxes, had our teeth cleaned, visited our doctors for our annual physical exams, and stockpiled some prescription meds.  We did our best to cover all of our bases.  We let all of our friends know what we were doing and spent time with our families, encouraging everyone to get on Skype so we could stay connected.  Finally we were ready to go.  We were on a journey without a known ending.  We had one way tickets to Mexico!

We had an overnight flight to Cancun where we would spend the night before making a brief side trip to Tulum.  From there we would take a 4 hour bus ride to Merida where we would begin our first assignment.  My husband’s daughter dropped us at the airport and we were off.  We thought.  Oh, the best laid plans….

One Way Tickets - Our Story, part 2

“You’re kidding me, right?” was what the ticket agent said at the airline check-in counter.  “You don’t really have one-way tickets, do you?”  My husband and I looked at each other as the agent signaled her coworker to set our bags aside.  There was a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.  Why, oh why, did we mention that we had one way tickets?  Something was wrong and we were less than 5 minutes into our new adventure, our new life.  “This is a problem for me; I can’t let you board the plane without proof of your planned departure from Mexico.  You need to show me a return ticket” said the agent. Having traveled to Mexico by car and plane many, many times before, our response was to chuckle and say “you are kidding us, right?”  We really thought she must be joking.  After all, in 30 years of visiting Mexico, we’d never been asked by anyone, ever, how we were going to leave the country. 

We knew the standard visa period was for a maximum of 180 days, and as we were planning to stay for 2 months we’d be in compliance, so what was the big deal?  “The airline could be fined $10,000 if we let you into the country, so you will have to comply with the regulations.  This is spelled out in the policy on our website” explained the agent.  “What if we want to take a bus back?” inquired my husband.  “Well, I’d have to see your bus tickets” responded the agent.  Exasperated, I snapped “but you offer and sell one way tickets!”  She responded by saying that we needed to read the fine print as it was all there on the website and then she helpfully offered to assist us in purchasing tickets. 

So that’s what we did.  We bought two overpriced tickets, with terrible connections, that we really didn't  want.  But it was what we had to do.  Lesson learned the hard way: don’t give out more information than necessary and take time to read the fine print.

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