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How I got from the Northern to the Southern Hemisphere

I queued in Cancún at noon, spent the evening sitting around in Bogotá, and I was walking around in São Paulo by the next morning.

Let’s rewind to Wednesday morning, when we were about to leave Mexico…

“I’ve just checked the news. Apparently, US flights are grounded because of a… computer glitch.”

“What?! Is your flight affected?”

“I guess we will figure it out at the airport…”

We took a taxi from Playa del Carmen to Cancún International Airport, a perfectly acceptable and convenient way to travel between the two cities for a going rate of 800 pesos (USD40).

The airport was mayhem. Indeed, all the US flights were delayed, and American passengers had nowhere to go. Canadian flights didn’t seem to be affected but there was a massive lineup to check in with Sunwing, Canada’s most hated airline this winter.

Mark and Feng were flying back to Ottawa with Flair Airlines in the evening from another terminal.

My own flight wasn’t showing up yet but at joined the queue at the Avianca check-in counter.

For me, Mexico was chapter 1 of the trip. Time to start chapter 2—Brazil.

Getting to Brazil from Cancún had kept me busy for a few days last fall when I was planning the adventure. My first option was a Cancún-Brasilia GOL flight but when I tried to book it, it was apparently sold out. Considering what happened in Brasilia a few days ago, it’s probably a good thing I didn’t get it…

I went with Plan B, Cancún-Bogotá-São Paulo with Avianca.

“Great, I’m taking the drug smuggling route…”

I showed my proof of COVID vaccination (the first time in months!), got my boarding passes, and said goodbye to Mark and Feng.

I don’t like saying goodbye. I didn’t look back. I hope Mark didn’t either—I always tell him it’s easier to just walk away.

Feng called me from the other terminal 30 minutes later to confirm his flight was on time.

I was already boarding.

The plane took off and I marvelled at the clouds painting a world map on the Caribbean Sea—it was lovely.

Bogotá was a whole different story only 3.5 hours later. It started with a thick layer of clouds, so thick I only saw the landing strip at the last minute—so did the pilot apparently, it was a brutal landing. Suddenly, it was pitch dark outside. It looks cold and rainy.

Colombia is one of the few Latin American countries I haven’t explored yet. I don’t know much about it, but when I arrived, it felt like I had taken the wrong plane and I was in Canada. It’s only 10⁰C at night in Bogotá! Not that it mattered, I wasn’t going to leave the airport, but still. It reminded me of landing in Quito, Ecuador, in 2001. It was my first time in South America and in the southern hemisphere. We were coming straight from Panamá and obviously, it was cold in the Andean foothills. “I can’t believe I’m cold in South America!” naive 18-year-old me had complained.

Even though I stayed in the same terminal at El Dorado airport, I still had to go through security again. I was wearing jeans and a sweater—Feng and I had a mini-argument about it… okay Feng, you were right, I did need a sweater!—and I was underdressed compared to most passengers who were wearing thick winter jackets.

I am not considering exploring Bogotá, like, ever. It’s known as the “city of eternal autumn,” by the way.

The airport was pretty quiet. I walked around the terminal for about an hour. I wanted to buy water, a Coke or coffee, but all the prices were in Colombian pesos and I had no idea if $8,000 was a fair price. Besides, I was told I had to pay in pesos, and obviously, I didn’t have any. My VISA card may have worked but I didn’t feel like trying only to have my card blocked and having to explain to Scotiabank why I was suddenly buying coffee in Colombia.

Like in Cancún, Avianca started the boarding process very early and we all ended up sitting in the plane an hour before takeoff time. Passengers, mostly Brazilians, were in a bad mood, maybe because it was the end of their Mexican escape. A fight broke out—“guys, we have to spend six hours together,” a flight attendant sighed.

The aircraft had a barebone look—no entertainment system, but at least we were given blankets. I was super thirsty so I asked for a glass of water.

“No.”

“No?”

“We have bottles for sale. It’s $5.”

Somehow, I had missed the fact that Avianca is apparently, a “budget airline,” so nothing is free. In fact, you get absolutely nothing—no food, no drinks, no smiles. I had a sandwich and snacks, but I really thought we would get water. No such luck.

It was a long flight. For the first time in ages, I had the entire row to myself, so I was able to curl up, taking over the unoccupied zone. It wasn’t as comfortable as I hoped but I forced myself to sleep because we would land at 6:30 a.m., 4:30 a.m. Mexican time, and I had to be rested enough to handle São Paulo.

I woke up when we arrived.

Everything went very fast. I went through immigration, grabbed my backpack, gulped down a Coke Zero, and requested a Uber ride.

No more airport mayhem and sitting around in a dark, cold city. I’m ready to explore and experience Brazil once again.

The massive Sunwing lineup (Canada's most hated airline?), Cancún International Airport, Cancun - Chetumal Km 22, Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
The massive Sunwing lineup (Canada’s most hated airline?), Cancún International Airport, Cancun – Chetumal Km 22, Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Cancún International Airport, Cancun - Chetumal Km 22, Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Cancún International Airport, Cancun – Chetumal Km 22, Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Cancún International Airport, Cancun - Chetumal Km 22, Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Cancún International Airport, Cancun – Chetumal Km 22, Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Cancún International Airport, Cancun - Chetumal Km 22, Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Cancún International Airport, Cancun – Chetumal Km 22, Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Cancún International Airport, Cancun - Chetumal Km 22, Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Cancún International Airport, Cancun – Chetumal Km 22, Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Avianca AV69 Cancún-Bogotá, above Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Avianca AV69 Cancún-Bogotá, above Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Avianca AV69 Cancún-Bogotá, above Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Avianca AV69 Cancún-Bogotá, above Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Avianca AV69 Cancún-Bogotá, above Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Avianca AV69 Cancún-Bogotá, above Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Avianca AV69 Cancún-Bogotá, above Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Avianca AV69 Cancún-Bogotá, above Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Avianca AV69 Cancún-Bogotá, above Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Avianca AV69 Cancún-Bogotá, above Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Avianca AV69 Cancún-Bogotá, above Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Avianca AV69 Cancún-Bogotá, above Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Avianca AV69 Cancún-Bogotá, above Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Avianca AV69 Cancún-Bogotá, above Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Avianca AV69 Cancún-Bogotá, above Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Avianca AV69 Cancún-Bogotá, above Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Avianca AV69 Cancún-Bogotá, landing in Bogotá, Colombia
Avianca AV69 Cancún-Bogotá, landing in Bogotá, Colombia
Avianca AV69 Cancún-Bogotá, landing in Bogotá, Colombia
Avianca AV69 Cancún-Bogotá, landing in Bogotá, Colombia
Avianca AV69 Cancún-Bogotá, landing in Bogotá, Colombia
Avianca AV69 Cancún-Bogotá, landing in Bogotá, Colombia
Avianca AV69 Cancún-Bogotá, landing in Bogotá, Colombia
Avianca AV69 Cancún-Bogotá, landing in Bogotá, Colombia
Avianca AV85, Bogotá-São Paulo, landing in São Paulo, Brazil
Avianca AV85, Bogotá-São Paulo, landing in São Paulo, Brazil
Landed at GRU Airport in São Paulo, Brazil
Landed at GRU Airport in São Paulo, Brazil
Airbnb in São Paulo, Brazil
Airbnb in São Paulo, Brazil
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Zhu

French woman in English Canada.

Exploring the world with my camera since 1999, translating sentences for a living, writing stories that may or may not get attention.

Firm believer that nobody is normal... and it’s better this way.

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