The Longest Short Day of Travel Ever

An early indication our return travel from Ixtapa might be disrupted came in a message from my sister, saying the airport back home was fogged in that morning. This isn’t an unusual occurrence in January. Not frequently, but occasionally, there’s early morning fog that delays air travel for an hour or two until it burns off. So we weren’t too concerned. We didn’t know yet that Murphy had overheard us talking on the plane about the easy trip out there.
We usually hang pretty close to the resort on our last day, relaxing, taking pictures of the grounds. And that’s what we did that morning.
This is a view of the adult pool from the Colores Restaurant where we ate breakfast.446 Adult pool from Colores

Fountains at the entrance to the Azul
451 Fountains in front of Azul
Playa Linda in front of the resort
471 Playa Linda
472 Playa Linda
The Oyster Bar Restaurant
474 Oyster Bar Restaurant
If you look carefully at the top centre balcony, you can just barely make out Hubby standing on our balcony.
480 Our room, top. centre
We ate a light lunch at the Snack Bar before going up to our room to shower and change clothes before checking out. I’d spotted this group of birds several times during our stay, not sure what kind of bird they are. That day, they were being friendly, hanging out near our table, maybe hoping for a snack.
494 Azul grounds
All of a sudden there was a whirl of wings and the birds disappeared. A glance over my shoulder explained why.
498 Azul grounds

Smart birds, hungry kitty.
We’d just changed into our travel clothes when the front desk called our room to let us know we wouldn’t be leaving for the airport until 5:00 that afternoon, which was about the time our flight had originally been scheduled to leave. They assured us we could use their facilities, but still had to check out of the room at 1:00. So started the long, slow afternoon of just sitting around. Because we’d already showered and changed, we didn’t want to tramp around in the heat, so we found a comfy spot in the lobby bar and settled in. I played games on my cell phone while Hubby had a snooze.
503 Lobby bar
When I needed to stretch, I wandered around a little, enjoying the multitude of gorgeous flowers. These hibiscus flowers were by the stairs leading up to the lobby bar.
506 Azul grounds
507 Azul grounds
508 Azul grounds
These delicate little treasures bordered the pool area.
509 Azul grounds
510 Azul grounds
Another potted hibiscus bloomed at the front entrance.
513 Azul front entrance
514 Azul front entrance
Finally 5:00 arrived and we shuttled off to the airport, still not certain about the fog conditions back home. We met up with Sis and BIL at the airport and she relayed how her daughter and family had been at the airport since early that morning waiting for the fog to lift so they could fly to Ixtapa. On the same plane we’d be taking home. I didn’t envy them, spending all that time at the airport with two babies. At least we had a lovely resort to kill time at.
Word from the Okanagan didn’t sound good. Planes still weren’t leaving or landing. One of Sis’s other kids was supposed to fly to Vancouver that day for a connecting flight, but his flight was cancelled, so with a young baby in tow, they had to make the treacherous trip through the mountain passes by car. Very stressful times for everyone.

It was still Christmas at the airport.

517 Zihuatanejo airport

518 Zihuatanejo airport
We were finally informed our plane had arrived, which meant we’d probably get home around midnight. We stood by the glass partition to watch my niece and her family go through customs. The two little ones were so excited to see friendly faces, especially their papa. It must’ve been confusing for them, when we weren’t there afterwards.
I realized almost immediately after getting on the plane, it wasn’t going to be a comfortable trip. Too much sitting already that day had put pressure on my sciatica, and I rapidly began to get excruciating pain down my legs. The seatbelt sign was still on, and a flight attendant had already yelled at another passenger who’d stood up, so I knew walking the aisles was out of the question. Lucky for me, I’m a small person, so when I couldn’t take the pain anymore, I was able to turn around in my seat. resting on my knees, facing backwards. I likely looked ridiculous, but removing the pressure instantly relieved the pain. The cranky steward spotted me right away and came over to tell me the seatbelt sign was still on. I probably sounded just as cranky when I explained my situation. He muttered something about it being my responsibility if something happened and hustled off. I was so thankful that when I finally did sit forward again, the sciatic pain didn’t return.
But somehow, unbelievably, a pesky bug or two had stowed away with us and proceeded to munch away at me. As if I didn’t already have enough bug bites, I ended up with several large itchy welts on both my arms and lower legs, which tormented me for many days to come.
Around midnight, the captain’s voice came over the PA telling us the Kelowna airport was closed and the plane was headed for Calgary. A bit of an uproar started from some of the passengers who were supposed to carry on to Vancouver from Kelowna. They wanted to know why the plane couldn’t go straight there. Unfortunately, the crew had reached their maximum flying time and had to return to their home base in Calgary. A new crew would be assembled and we’d turn around and fly back to Kelowna.
So they said.
We arrived in Calgary about 2:00 AM local time with no idea where to go or what to do. With no Sunwing personnel in sight, over 200 people roamed the Calgary airport like lost sheep, until a friendly guy in a white stetson came over to check on us. He explained where Sunwing was setting up and suggested we line up there. So we did. Hubby and I happened to be close to the front of the line. About an hour later, a lone Sunwing employee showed up and looked surprised and mystified to see all of us already there. Apparently this was where a flight to Mazatlan was leaving from and she suggested we go away for an hour or so until they’d cleared those travellers. I thought a riot might break out. Over-tired, stressed-out people do not want to hear that they’d stood in line for an hour, in the middle of the night, only to have to move again. Wasn’t happening.
More Sunwing employees arrived and they began the arduous task of filling out food vouchers for our group, while Mazatlan travelers began to show up and had to worm their way through and around us. Cranky, crappy chaos ensued. Hubby and I kept a positive attitude. Yes, Sunwing could have and should have handled this situation far better than they did, but flipping out about it was not going to improve matters.
My only pressing concern was for Roxy, our little dog back home. She’d stayed with a friend while we were gone, and I’d told him to return her to our house after dinner that evening, because we’d planned on being home by 9:00. The poor little thing had been in the house all by herself all night and I didn’t even know if she had food or water. I felt much better when, around 5:00, Hubby was able to reach this friend and ask him to go let Roxy out and feed her.
We had a food voucher for $40 to spend on breakfast. The only restaurant open at 4:00 in the morning, and situated far, far away from where we’d congregated, was Tim Horton’s. How do two people spend $40 at Tim Horton’s? Somehow we managed to go through about $29. When we returned to the line-up, Sis asked why we still had our luggage. Apparently at some point after we’d gone through the line-up, Sunwing decided to check the luggage when they gave out the food vouchers. So we’d pulled two heavy suitcases across the entire airport for nothing. And poor Hubby once again got into that long line-up to check our luggage while I found a plug-in to charge my cell phone.
We got on a plane about an hour later, thinking, finally, we were headed home. But Murphy wasn’t finished with us yet. An announcement, as soon as we’d settled into our seats, informed us that we would then wait on the tarmac until the pilot had the all-clear from Kelowna. A good half-hour later, we took off. As soon as the seatbelt light clicked off, Hubby disappeared, I assumed to go to the washroom.
As we approached the Kelowna airport, the pilot’s voice once again came on the PA (we were starting to hate that voice). The ceiling was too low over Kelowna so he was going to circle around and try again. Hubby still hadn’t returned to his seat and the seatbelt sign was back on. He’d been gone about fifteen minutes and I was starting to get a little worried about him.
The plane circled and began to descend. We sank and we sank. Nothing but white clouds below us. We sank some more. And a little more. We were now deep in the fog and still no sign of land below. Suddenly, with a loud roar of engines, the plane rose swiftly. Very unnerving experience, and I’d wished Hubby had been there beside me.
Off we headed for Vancouver. Hubby was still MIA and I was becoming more and more concerned. My sleep-deprived mind had begun to run amuck. What if he had a medical emergency in the washroom and no one knew about it? With every moment that went by, I grew more convinced there was a problem, but with the seatbelt sign on, I couldn’t go look for him.
The scenery below my window was unbelievable. Sunrise, glistening off snow-covered mountains, the peaks so close, you could almost reach out and touch them. Incredibly gorgeous, and I cursed the fact that my camera was buried in my carry-on. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything so positively stunning.
As soon as the seatbelt sign clicked off, I was up and hoofing it to the back of the plane to look for Hubby. He wasn’t in the washrooms and I didn’t find any humour in the flight attendant’s quip that he couldn’t get lost on a plane. I turned to go back to my seat when I spotted him, in the back row with his nose pressed to the window. He was very apologetic when he realized how worried I’d been. The seatbelt sign had come on when he left the washroom, so he ducked into the nearest empty seat, then relishing the rare opportunity to have a window seat to himself, he’d lost track of time as he watched the amazing scenery below. No harm done, except to my already frazzled nerves.
It was touch and go whether we could land in Vancouver, as it too was experiencing unusually heavy fog, as you can see in this photo.
Luckily for the Vancouver-bound passengers, we did manage to land. That’s when that pesky pilot’s voice once again came over the PA, telling Kelowna passengers to remain in their seats until they figured out what they were going to do next. Hardly reassuring. Speculation ran rampant and bets were placed that we’d end up back in Calgary before the day was over. A long half-hour later, we were off again to Kelowna. Our first glimpse of the area didn’t give us much hope of landing. Everything was still really socked in.
Once again we began to sink through the fog. You could almost feel the passengers holding their breath. Then, there, what was that? Land below!!
Spontaneous hooting and hollering ensued, followed by long and heart-felt clapping. We were home. Only fifteen and a half hours late, but we were home.

Read about our entire trip starting HERE.


1 thought on “The Longest Short Day of Travel Ever

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