January 24, 2017
I Didn’t Look Much Like an Experienced Traveler upon my arrival at the Queretaro Airport
This story is funny in hindsight, but it wasn’t at the time.
I had just deplaned and was standing in line for immigration. I had filled out the immigration form on the plane, but then everyone was handed a customs form while standing in line. This was a bit awkward—trying to fill out the form while standing in line with nothing to write on.
Once I finished that task, I watched people as they were waived through by the single immigration agent. They walked up to another person and were directed to put their luggage on a conveyer to be X-rayed. When the luggage came out the other side, they were assisted in lifting it onto a counter and the customs agents opened the luggage and rummaged through it.
Then they were sent on their way and left through some sliding doors.
It turned out that all the people I watched had only carry-on luggage. They had no checked luggage. Well, that realization didn’t strike me at the time. When my turn came, I followed the same routine I had seen everyone else go through.
I noticed a large family standing to the side after finishing with immigration and before going through customs. I assumed they were waiting for other members of their family. This should have been my clue that they were waiting for their checked bags.
Once the customs guys finished rummaging through my carry-on luggage, I walked through the sliding doors, expecting to see baggage claim. I didn’t see it and it clearly was not there. Of course, it was over by the family I saw standing and waiting.
It is Possible to miss Baggage Claim in Queretaro
I tried asking the security agent outside the sliding doors how I could get my luggage. A nice man who spoke English and Spanish helped me figure out what was going to happen. One thing that was not going to happen was I was not going to be let back inside.
I had to wait until everyone from the flight had been processed. Then an American Airlines employee took the lone suitcase sitting on the carousel to the customs agents so they could rummage through it.
Even after this was completed, the suitcase sat on the floor, out of my reach, while the AA agent walked back and forth completing other tasks. Once he did bring the suitcase outside the secure area, he questioned me about why I left my suitcase on the carousel and then checked my claim ticket.
So, if you fly into the Queretaro airport, don’t expect it to be like flying into Chicago or Los Angeles. It’s very small and compact. Be sure to claim your checked luggage after you go through immigration and BEFORE you go to the customs guys.
Since I arrived late on Friday in Queretaro, I stayed in a hotel there. I didn’t want to take the shuttle that goes to SMA at night. I wanted to see my surroundings during the drive.
When I booked the hotel, I thought it was close to the airport. It advertised that it had a free airport shuttle. I called the hotel the night before I left Chicago to see how to catch the shuttle. I was told that the shuttle driver wasn’t working that day so no shuttle would be available.
I tried to set up the shuttle to pick me up the next day from the hotel and learned that it only does pick-ups from the airport. So I was on my own to get to SMA from Queretaro.
Once I arrived at the airport, I checked the price of a taxi to get to my hotel: 430 pesos. Then I fired up my Uber app and requested a ride. It only cost me 228 pesos (about $11.50 USD)—a much better deal that the taxi.
I couldn’t believe how far away the hotel was. It was about a 30 minute drive and that wasn’t because we were sitting in traffic. I talked to the Uber driver about taking me to SMA the next day and we arranged for him to pick me up the next morning at 10:00am. I was ready and waiting outside the hotel at 10:00am and he never showed up.
So, I fired up my Uber app again. A different driver accepted my request and I was on my way. It only cost 312 pesos, which is currently about $15.60 USD. I couldn’t have taken the shared shuttle for that low of a price! During the ride, I felt an emotion well up inside me. I felt connected to the land and the people. It felt real.
Seeing My Apartment for the First Time
My apartment is part of what I would call a “compound.” Upon my arrival, as I was being led through the courtyard of this compound, I saw hummingbirds and many beautiful flowering plants. There’s a lime tree and a huge flowering plant in the smaller courtyard that I see through my window. This immediately lifted my spirits.
I have a lot more observations and stories that I’ll be sending out soon, so stay tuned.
I welcome your comments and questions in the comment section under each article.
Yours in prosperity,
Sophia Hilton (A Savvy Woman)