The Smallest Plane

Now I think I'm going down to the well tonight

and I'm going to drink till I get my fill

And I hope when I get old I don't sit around thinking about it

but I probably will

Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture

a little of the glory of, well time slips away

and leaves you with nothing mister but

boring stories of glory days

Bruce Springstein

So here I sit on one of the smallest planes I have ever been on, and certainly the smallest one Ciaran & Aodhan have been on. There are only three seats across, two on one side, one on the other, with a narrow aisle between, which means that this plane is narrower than a city bus... Aodhan is in his glory, because he can’t get anything but a window seat, which of course is one of his life’s desires. He is watching a beautiful sunrise over Stratford, Ontario according to Aodhan, and the way that boy knows his maps, I am going to assume he has a darned good idea where he is.

It just doesn’t seem real, or exciting. Christmas didn’t seem exciting this year. I think that was because there wasn’t any snow, but maybe it’s just because I’ve had too many of them. But this trip ... just still not convinced we are going anywhere, I mean, yes, we are on a plane, flying 90000 feet above the earth, but it doesn’t seem like an adventure. So what constitutes an adventure? If I had never been anywhere on an airplane, this certainly would be an adventure, so have I ruined more simple adventures, by going on more exotic ones? If I sailed around the world alone, would I come back to live the rest of my life in abject boredom, never being able to find anything more exciting? Would I sit around the table at the yacht club, saying “Oh yes, when I sailed around Cape Horn blah blah blah, just like in the old Springsteen hit “Glory Days”. “ We went back inside sat down had a few drinks, but all he kept talking about was, Glory days well they'll pass you by, Glory days in the wink of a young girl's eye, Glory days, glory days.

Maybe this will get more exciting when I have to race through Chicago, O’Hare, keeping track of two independent kids, to get my connecting flight.

This trip seems a little like a cop out to me. I mean this is a resort town...

So we get to Chicago and we wait for our next plane. Now you might think that it is going to be crazy, I mean Chicago O’hare, one of the busiest airports. But no. perhaps a let down in the excitement factor again, or perhaps, once again, so much travel has jaded me, but it was quite boring. We came out one gate, and looked at the screen on the wall that was right there, it said our flight left from H10, the signage was pretty obvious, and then, a helpful airport employee stopped and looked at my ticket, pointed out where my flight was on the board and directed me to my gate anyway, so there was no chance of me having any excuse to get lost and have some excitement in the aiport!

I decided to change some of my US dollars from the $100’s I had brought, to something a little more negotiable in Mexico, as I was quite sure that the first Mexican taxi driver I encountered might have difficulty breaking one. The McDonald’s wouldn’t break it for me, but assured me that the money exchange booth that was not far away would. I walked towards the booth, and as I neared it I felt an urgency and began to hurry. I got to the exchange just in time to see a petty dark haired woman arrive, and look at the signs. When I arrived she was just about to talk to the woman in the booth. She asked if I thought they would change US twenties, for US $100’s. I said I sure hoped so, because I wanted to do the opposite. We looked at each other for a moment, the curious irony of the situation percolating. The woman in the booth, despite the McDonald’s assurance, stated that she could not trade US$ for US$, but could only sell currency. So, we looked at each other, fully realizing the co-incidence level of the well timed occurrence of our meeting, asked the lady in the booth if she could in fact verify that both of our bills were in fact genuine, and exchanged $20’s for $100’s. It was one of those weird situations where I think I should have gotten her name, and contact info, because it was too strange of a co-incidence, and perhaps there was some other reason that we were to meet - if you believe in all that

When I went back to my seat, Ciaran bounce up at me with a grin from ear to ear. “So, can we take the deal? Can we, can we?” When I finally got him calmed down enough to talk, he told me that they were overloaded on the plane, and they were offering $500, for people to stay in Chicago for the night. I told Ciaran, that they worked on voucher systems, and wouldn’t really give us $500, but he insisted and talked to the guy and made me listen to him, and sure enough, the deal was this, $500 per ticket which could be used towards purchasing airline tickets for anyone, plus, transportation and hotel, and I think even maybe even food for the evening. Wow, Ciaran said, I could pay for one of my friends to come down. So I called Greg, and told him I might be a day late arriving in Mexico, and took what was behind door number 2. Finally, excitement. Even Aodhan, after a bit of an explanation, got excited about it. Then it crashed, (not an airplane - just all our dreams of excitement). They took the plane completely out of service, and found a newer, bigger plane for us to fly on. All of us. So no $500, no night in Chicago, no nada. Just an hour late getting to the Puerto Vallarta airport.

We got to the airport and they wanted me to go to those condo, time share, etc presentations. They would wine me and dine me and try to sell me. So they said they would pay my taxi and breakfast etc. So I went for it, and why not. I went to a couple of them. They were cool and they gave me an idea of what Nuevo Vallarta is like, and I learned some about the way they work now and the way things have changed in 10 years. I walked away with a cheap zip line tour and no time share. They are good deals, but, really not for me. If you really do spend a lot on fancy vacations in fancy resorts every year, then yes, they are a worthwhile investment. But that is not me, and that is not how we travel. Although, it is possible that some companies should look into these deals as a way to send employees on business trips and give employee perks etc. But, you’d really have to run the numbers. I guess what it comes down to is this. For a monthly payment of about $400-$600, you are guaranteed a great price for a nice resort, and the ability to book other great prices in other resorts. The one I was looking at charged just over $900 for the week. Their rooms ran about $300 per night walk in price, so it works out to a little under half price, but then you have to remember that you have already paid about $6000 that year for the privilege of saving your $1200. In the long run, the numbers pan out, but look on the market and see how many timeshare deals are being sold off and just forfeited, foreclosed or defaulted on, because they became unaffordable to the owners. The terms are generally between 30 and 100 years, and the salesmen look at you in the eye and say, oh yes, aren’t you glad you didn’t buy one ten years ago, because things have changed so much and this is supposed to make you sign up for a 30 year plan?

Aodhan looking out over the mountains into Puerto Vallarta

Ciaran on the airplane - Almost there!


Aodhan always takes time to say hello to the pilots after, and learn a little more about what all the controls do.

This is the larger plane that they traded for in Chicago.

The mountains on the way into Puerto Vallarta.

The outskirts of Puerto Vallarta.

This is one of the little gated communities, the suburbs of Puerto Vallarta. There are lots of these.