ADRIENNE'S HIV BLOG – Hivine's Weblog

HIVINE is written by HIV positive women but still with a sense of humour

Wham Bam Thank You Mam


Mexico City, here I come. Two hour delay at Manchester airport before even set off. Of course, hadn’t slept a wink the night before, far too excited. Made decision that on stroke of midnight, would no longer be a filthy, anti social smoker.
‘Am now a person who no longer smokes,’ told myself triumphantly as we left house at 4am and son drove me to airport, then waved mother goodbye, telling her to have safe trip and really good time.
Strolled through sliding doors, feeling sorry for pitiful huddle of filthy, anti social smokers, hiding behind pillars, having last drag before entering clean air policy, smoke free zone. Didn’t bother me in slightest, in fact felt superior – smug.
Met up with rest of party from Body Positive who were flying more or less same time, but different route via New York and Houston. Took charge of one very large black suitcase, bearing tee shirts designed by group members of BP.

Delta – American airline – American hostess offering, tea, coffee, wadder.
Bit worried about eight hour flight, claustrophobia don’t you know, can handle two hours, but eight – that’s nearly half a day. Forced to pretend was on bus. Bus wobbling around bit too much for ones liking – bus conductress offering mam more tea coffee wadder. Mam just wanted to ring bell and get off. Not good idea at thirty thousand feet.

Bus driver announces now flying over Reykjavik – sounded Russian. Sneaked quick look at map in back of in flight mag, was tip of Iceland – thought was bitterly cold draught from window – explains why all issued with blanket, even though middle of day. Progress of bus on screen now pointing to Canada. Seemed long way round to me, but in hands of Delta bus driver now.

Announcement – Do not congregate in area of lavatory, pronounced lav ate oreee.
lav ate oreeee constantly occupied – in constant flush mode like a menopausal woman. Luckily, those days long gone for me, but concerned about bowels and loosening effects of new meds. What if have to go in hurry? Doc issued three packs of Imodium before set off; have them in handbag at ready. Been on bus now for six hours – feet starting to swell. Wish had bought some of those special socks, considered at last minute wearing some of son’s, but not very elegant.

Eventually bus lands in Atlanta – or ATLANDER as is pronounced. Filled in dreaded immigration form on route; importing snails, not that was aware of unless had odd slug from garden on bottom of shoe, more than ten thousand dollars – chance would be fine thing. Mental problems or a communicable disease- uncanny how the two things are linked together – yes, boldly tick box. Under normal circumstances would be sent back at border, but due to waiver, am allowed to set diseased foot on American soil. Feeling of power that this time at least, cannot be turned away.

Feeling of power quickly diminished by intimidating row of officers of law with attitude – move along there, step into line mam. Aged British Legion fellow in blazer hot on my heels under misconception knew what queue to join – didn’t have clue. In view of age and decrepitude of said aged man, lifted barrier so didn’t have to walk all way round. Big black policewoman, hand on weapon, immediately on case – git back in line there mam, have committed punishable offence.
Missed bits off form, so had to go to back of queue, start all over again. Reason for entering United States demanded guard, eyes locking on ticked box declaring was infected alien carrying communicable disease.
‘Delegate,’ told him proudly, ‘in transit to Mexico for 2008 World AIDS Conference.’
Machine clocked iris, hand print, thumb print – will never be allowed back now have availed them of unsavoury details about health. Don’t care, don’t want to come back, too frightening – would probably end up on death row for sneezing or blowing nose as in case of HIV positive man recently jailed for spitting – spit being regarded here in certain states as deadly weapon.

Got lost in huge terminal trying to find right gate. Staggered aboard very fast train – felt remains of bottom wobbling, even though no longer have one. Forced to surmount huge escalator, vertigo from meds nearly making me keel over – hot, wish hadn’t brought long purple coat, in fact why had I? Dying of thirst, dodgy stomach, no dollars but, surprise, surprise, a smoking room no less – somehow managed to resist temptation to slink inside. You are a person who no longer smokes, told myself smugly.
Boarded plane to Orlando, felt bit faint, asked hostess for glass of wadder, said mam couldn’t be served till after plane took off – informed her might be sick – ignored me, far too busy being comedienne of airways.
“Is very hot on board folks, so either tug on overhead vents or keep mouths closed.”
Went down like lead balloon.
“The cabin crew will now be serving complimentary drinks and snacks, but if you want to, you can pay for them.”
“If peanuts don’t tickle your fancy, how about a knuckle sandwich?”
Someone put a gag on her.
Still haven’t got my wadder – will pretend to throw up just to annoy her. Look for sick bag in pocket – Delta slogan written on sick bag totally fitting considering in flight meals – ‘I’ll be back.’

Starting descent to Orlando – weird looking place dotted with sluggish looking ponds and steaming lakes. Was told had to collect suitcases. Take train to baggage reclaim, find carousel – no free trolleys would you believe, haven’t accounted for that, only Mexican pesos in pocket. Tried to swap pesos, no luck; slip peso note in change machine, machine spits it back out – my life for single dollar coin. How to transport two heavy suitcases plus carry on to next terminal without trolley? Ah ha, spy empty wheelchair with very wide seat, luckily Americans have big bottoms. Could wheel suitcases to next terminal on that.

Stand at carousel with hands on handles of wheelchair, waiting for suitcases to appear. Atlanta flight still up on screen with flight number, so continue to wait. Flight just arrived from Ireland, cries of, ‘mammy, mammy,’ as opposed to mam abound. Still no suitcases.

Airline official spots me, raises angry eyebrow, shakes finger and motions me to put wheelchair or ‘carriage’ back – explain about no change etc. could official help. No, couldn’t, just kept telling me to put carriage back. Got angry myself, have blue badge told her, rotting hip, anyway is ridiculous having to pay for trolley in airport, would never happen in England. Get even angrier, unless somebody can change me pesos am refusing to let go of carriage, challenge her. Official locks eyes with me then with American sigh, relents.
‘Okay, okay mam, you can keep carriage,’ she shuffles off wearily.

Wait expectantly with carriage, ignoring disgusted looks from trolley less fellow passengers. Cases still don’t appear, eventually give up and regretfully abandon carriage, wishing could just get in carriage myself and be pushed. Instead, forced to walk miles and miles trying to find right terminal. Get on what appears to be driverless tram, arrive at gate too late. Flight already gone to Mexico City without me. Not a Delta representative in sight, get back on tram, return to previous terminal. No representatives there either, so get back on tram, this time not only has tram got no driver, but no other passengers, only me. Ghost tram whizzes back along rails through dark night. Suddenly feel totally isolated. Not a soul knows where I am – not even me.

Airport practically deserted by this time, find lone rep on her way home, clutch onto sleeve and start blubbering. Informs me no flights to Mexico City till tomorrow night, have to fly me back to Atlanta. ‘We have very distressed lady here,’ she informs big lesbian cowgirl in charge of ticket sales, who is forced to reopen her desk. Very distressed lady now in floods when finds out has to stay in Orlando for night in hotel. Luckily cowgirl takes fancy to me. Gives me voucher for hotel and ticket back to Atlanta for next morning.

Git Back on the tram mam

Bit like that film ‘Groundhog Day,’ where everything keeps repeating itself.

Walk more miles, can’t find right office, everything shut for night, feet burning, finally find someone to ask – locate office, join queue of angry people who have also missed connections. Feel have been queuing all my life. Oh no, is unhelpful ‘can’t have carriage’ woman again. Doesn’t like me, don’t think anyone does – don’t think anyone likes anyone in these parts. Finally, am tossed man’s overnight soap bag and
ordered to find taxi to said hotel. Hotel taxi driver tries to separate me from carry on, which contains supply of meds. Refuse to be separated, can’t have carry ons in taxi mam, he snarls, health and safety. Finally gives in after brief battle and allows mam to sit with it clutched between knees.

Tis swelteringly, hot, humid air, drove passed swamps and alligator filled ponds. Hotel, no food, would have to take taxi to Benny’s or Henny’s or Lenny’s, partially deaf in both ears by this time. No more taxis, I proclaim, anyway hotel taxi driver extremely pissed off with me after carry on battle also because didn’t leave tip. Room service I enquire – no room service mam. Something from snack bar perhaps? Not in line with company policy mam.
This is f*****in ridiculous, I swear, totally fed up, tired etc. Shocked faces look back at me. Quickly apologize for swearing, in case am arrested or fed to alligators. After several phone calls to management, finally permit me to buy cold drink from snack bar and frozen pizza slice to put in microwave in room. Went outside and braved swampy air – broke no smoking rule and lit up soothing camel. Was no longer a person who no longer smoked. Found spooky room, stupid microwave refused to work. Forced to go to bed hungry. Left pizza in microwave – hope it rots.
Tried to send text message to others, but phone let me down – last text message from them, stuck in Houston – from that moment forth was a lost soul, flitting backwards and forwards across America, a lone pioneer with a communicable disease on foreign soil.

Ordered taxi for 4 am. Back to airport, usual two mile trek, surmounting mountainous elevators, forced to grit teeth and hang on for dear life, vertigo caused by meds nearly making legs keel over. Board plane back to Atlanta – felt all wrong, was going backwards, retracing steps.

Finally manage to get on right plane and after three hour flight land in Mexico City. Join special queue for delegates then get in taxi bus, latching on to other delegates. Arrive at hotel thinking long journey was over and could finally rest weary head. But no, others had checked out only ten minutes ago – where had they gone? Next hotel – where the f**** was it, ruffled through pack, didn’t seem to have any reference to another hotel – luckily found nice taxi driver who didn’t rip me off and refused to leave me till found colleagues. Didn’t actually find them but found what thought could be next hotel. Dumped luggage with Porter, enquired at reception, no rooms booked under names of colleagues. Tried to book a room myself – no way, hotel fully booked. How could this be possible, was a huge tower block with about a hundred floors. Could they suggest other hotel close by? Impossible, sad shake of Mexican heads, all hotels in area, if not in entire city, fully booked due to conference.

Slunk across road to friendly cantina for coffee and fag. Was now well and truly alone in one of biggest and most populated cities in world, without a room, without a phone, indeed without a friend. A tear slipped from my weary eye. At that point the heavens opened and the thunder roared and lightening lit up the sky, the streets quickly awash with torrents of water. Forced to wait in cantina till storm abated somewhat, then made mad dash across street, passing taxi whizzing through puddle soaking me to bone. Had been in transit now for thirty six hours, suffering from jet lag, bag lag but luckily not fag lag, the latter being the only lag I could remedy.

Was slowly forging my way through puddles, a wet and bedraggled figure, a homeless vagabond in a foreign land, when raised dejected head, looked through streaming rats tails and there, getting out of a taxi were my lost amigos. I have never been so glad to see anyone in my life.

From then on things got better and better, but to be honest, they couldn’t really have got any worse. My room on eighteenth floor, paid for by drug company, was luxurious to say the least – marble bathroom, big white bed etc. So high up could see right out over city, and could feel building swaying, wobbly legs.

This was the most woeful of starts to what turned out to be one of the best and most rewarding trips of my life.

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4 Comments»

  Willo wrote @

What an eventful start to your adventure! Can’t wait for the next episode…

  janet wrote @

That makes our 2 hour delay to ibiza sound like a dream…and I was moaning like mad, gagging for a fag!! Admire your determination….I would have got pi55ed and come home!!

xx

  Arnulfo Mondelli wrote @

Awesome post. I so good to see someone taking the time to share this information

  Micheal Muramoto wrote @

I’ve been checking your blog for a while now, seems like everyday I learn something new 🙂 Thanks


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