Crisis At The Airport!

So after our lovely time in Madrid, it was time to head to the airport and catch our flight to Cancun. It was pretty easy getting to the airport actually, we just had to take a metro and then a train to it which were both in the same building. So we arrived a little earlier than anticipated.

We find where to check in and queued, all going great! That was until we arrived at the desk. We give the lady our passports and she asks in Spanish “Do you have your flight out of Mexico?” We said no we didn’t. She then replied (all in Spanish so I couldn’t understand what was happening) that I wouldn’t be allowed to board unless I could show them that I had a flight out of Mexico because I’m not a Mexican citizen.  If not then the staff at the boarding area could deny me upon going on board and I’d be stuck in Madrid all alone! Or that I’d be allowed on the flight but at customs in Mexico they could say “No, you’re not allowed to enter because you’ve no exit flight”. ALSO I would be barred from entering Mexico for 5 years!

Now all this was all IF. They may allow me to board or they may not…. She said it would be best for me to buy one. Of course she works there so if she’s saying this sort of stuff then you usually listen to them!

So…. when we heard all this news we of course got worried! We didn’t know what to do! This has never happened to me before, and I’ve visited Mexico twice before. I did have return flights but they never asked for them. So we thought nothing about not having a flight to leave. (Maybe they can see on their computer if I have a return flight or something?)

The lady at the counter said the only thing we could do is try and book another flight out of Mexico so we can show this to the people. We can try and get a refundable ticket. We were very worried at this stage! Will we manage to book one in time?

Off we went to find somewhere to sit and quickly look for the cheapest flight out of Mexico. We got in contact with my fiancés sister and thanks to her she bought a cheap flight to Dallas for me! We definitely owe her big time!The clock was ticking and we saw that not many people were queuing at the desk now. Hurry up so we can show the lady!

We got the confirmation email and we hurried to show it to the lady at the counter so she could change my status on the computer. We rushed through security and found our way to the gate (which involved having to take a metro… how big is Madrid airport??!)

Our next thing was to line up and then (most likely they will ask to see my flight out of Mexico). I get there, and NOTHING!!! They didn’t ask for anything except for the usual things! AAhh! So after all that and they didn’t even ask for it.

So we got on the flight and landed in Cancun airport.  I went through customs for Mexican people as I was with a Mexican person……. and yet again not one single word about having a flight out of the country! He stamped this and stamped that and off we went! AAhh!

It’s not that we were so much annoyed by all of it, it was just the fact that we were stressed out by that lady at the airport even before we left Madrid. Also thankfully we were able to get refunded the money so I didn’t lose it.  I don’t know whether she was having a bad day and wanted to vent it on us or whatever, but in the end all that she said to us never happened. Was she trying to scare us? (She succeeded!).

But anyway, it all worked out ok for us. I hope that doesn’t happen again. Because what if we couldn’t book any flights? If that was the case would they still have let me board? Would I have made it to Mexico and then they ask me?? I have no idea. I’d like to think that because Mexican people are so friendly, and seeing that I was with a Mexican person (intending to marry him) that they would wave me through. But who knows really.

You really don’t want that sort of stress with airlines and flying. So let’s hope that was just a one time incident!

Aisling

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Our (Not So Nice) Hostel

You know when you go onto booking.com and you see all these great hostels at a great price? The location is perfect and it looks like a nice place to stay? Reviews are very good with only a few bad ones? Well sometimes it’s too good to be true.

We were going to stay in Madrid for 10 days as my fiancés Mum and Dad were visiting his Aunty, so we decided to stay longer than usual in order to visit a few places with the parents and also his Aunty.

Well, the hostel wasn’t great to be honest. There was problem after problem with this place, and I was pretty happy to have left!

Usually there might be maybe a few minor problems with hostels. But with this one there were tonnes.

1. No lock on the door.

This means that everyone can just go into your room. This is unusually strange. So then of course one night I hear someone enter the room, hear some footsteps, realise that it’s pitch black and they can’t see anything…. so they decide to leave…..and surprise they leave the door open. So I had to get up and close it then.  I really wasn’t impressed with this at all. It’s really not hard to get locks for the doors.

2. You can’t turn on/off the lights.

Room related again. Another surprising thing is that the only people that can control the lights in every dorm room is the receptionist. So they decide the time. It depends on who is working during the night shift, but the lights could turn off at 9:30pm, 10:30pm, 11:05pm or even after 12:00am. In this case the receptionist actually forget they were on……

I can’t understand why we don’t have control of the light swtich?

3. No control over the air-con

Another room one for you! Once again the receptionist is in charge of the air-con. Every night we have to go and ask them to turn it on. The third night we were there I woke up at 5am literally sweating! I was wondering why I was so hot. Sure enough I saw that the air-con was off. We asked the receptionist and they said “Sometimes we turn it off in case the people get cold”.

Mmmmm I’m sure. After that night the air-con was left on. Again, why can’t we decide if we want it on or off?? Do they think we are going to steal the remote or something?

4. Noises everywhere

Because our dorm room was literally, and I mean two steps away from the common area, that meant we could hear every type of noise; chatting, cutlery clattering, the washing machine, the people washing their dishes… everything. Another one that was added was the recent addition of the squeaking of the mens toilet door every time it opened. So that was a new one. I thought ‘they may actually fix it’, but no, it was still squeaking when we left. I’m so thankful that I had my earplugs with me, or else they all would have driven me mad.

5. For the smokers, the entrance of the hostel was the smoking area… which of course means that all the non-smokers  and the people checking in have to walk through the cloud of cigarette/ marijuana smoke to enter. Because it was sort of inside, the smell just lingered in the small area which wasn’t very pleasant.

6. Cold showers

In the ladies toilet there were 3 showers, and 2 of them I liked more than the other one. So the first shower which I had was lovely and hot! No problems! The next shower was also fine. The third one was getting cold just after I put shampoo in my hair, but it wasn’t too bad. It was luke warm. The next one however was absolutely freezing! As soon as I turned it on it went straight to icey cold. I thought maybe it would heat up but no, it just stayed cold. That was a very tough shower as I can’t cope with the cold!  After that one I asked could I have a shower in my fiancés aunts house, I just didn’t want to have another cold shower like that. I don’t even think I rinsed all the soap off my body it was that cold! I just wanted to get out!

So my last shower we were supposed to get up at 8am as we were checking out at 10. I ended up waking at 7:20am and decided to go for one them, hoping the water would be fine.

There was nobody in the bathroom when I entered and I switched the shower on to make sure it got hot. And it was!  My last shower was as good as the first! I’m guessing maybe the other girls use up the hot water, but there should be at least warm water for everyone.

7. Weird people

There was one particular person there that kind of creeped us out while we were there. While we were in the common area, this girl would be walking around with a big fluffy coat on her…. by the way the weather was 30+ degrees, so she looked totally odd wearing this in the hostel. I’m pretty sure everyone was looking at her wearing this big coat.

Also there was something sort of just ‘off’ about her. (The coat didn’t exactly help either)  She would just be walking about the common area, going to the bathroom, walking a bit more…. that was pretty much all we saw her do in the hostel.

Until one night….

So I was in my bed and had to go to the bathroom. It was around 1am I think. I get up and open the door. I walk past this girl and she nearly bumped into me. I wasn’t really paying attention to her or what she was doing, but I was wondering why she was so close to me. I realise that she’s swaying and making a “huh” sound every so often. I realise she’s high as a kite. On what I have absolutely no idea, but she was definitely high. I quickly went to the bathroom and when I come out she has moved over to the fridge and is swaying and doing god knows. I didn’t want to continue watching her.

Then as I walk toward my dorm room she begins to (try) to walk towards me. i rush to my room and  look over to her as she began to bump into the mens toilet.

At least I’m back in bed. Until….. that was the night someone walked into our dorm room. I’m guessing it was her. So of course I was scared then to go back outside as she could be outside being zombie-like.

But the drama doesn’t stop there! I wake up again at 5:30am with someone in the common area shouting! I was half asleep at this stage so I wasn’t really paying attention, but my fiancé also woke up and he heard it. He said that someone from the hostel was shouting at the girl in Spanish and in English. “Get out!!!! You are drunk! You are high! You have to leave!”

Do you think she left? Nope……we get up around 8:30 and guess who we see… the girl with the black coat. She was no longer high, but now she had her pink bag with her and was (yet again) walking around the common area. I’m guessing she was awake for the whole night.

There was another female worker there and she went up to the girl and in English said “You have to leave now. Get your things and go.” The girl started saying that she wanted to speak to the manager as at 5:30am the guy that she was talking to was very rude to her.

“I want to know why he was so rude to me, I was only smoking inside”. (which she clearly wasn’t)

The lady said “He was the manager!”

“Ok, then I need a refund”.

“Fine, we’ll give you your refund but then you have to leave.”

“How much would it be for another night?”

“No, you are not staying another night! There is a hostel across the street, you can go and try to stay there, but you are not staying here”.

“I want to use the bathroom.”

“Again??? This is the second time you have to go to the bathroom”

So she went to the bathroom and came back out. She walked a bit more and then FINALLY she left the building.

The drama was over and there was peace at last! I kind of felt sorry for the girl but at the same time it’s not on getting high or whatever while in a hostel full of other people. She was travelling alone so god knows what bad things could have happened to her. She shouldn’t get herself into a state like that, especially when she couldn’t even speak Spanish. (She tried but the the lady told her to speak English as her Spanish wasn’t very good)

So yeah, it was eventful staying at the hostel. If any of you want to know the name of this delightful place, it’s called the d’hostel.

Would I recommend it? No…. it needs upgrading and looks kind of shabby. Plus all of the problems  mentioned above, there are a few more that I won’t mention as the ones here were the most annoying for me. Although the location was great as it was in the centre and only 5 minutes walk to the metro. So it’s very centric.

Would I stay here again? NO WAY.

Aisling.

Toledo, Spain

While in Madrid, we visited a really pretty place called Toledo! Apparently on wikitravel, it says that although it’s nice, it’s very touristy. When I read this I was put off by it. Too many tourists often ruin a site. But when we arrived in Toledo, we were very impressed by it!

Yes there were tourists, but when you start walking down the many small alleyways, the tourists disperse for a while. I have to say I really liked the whole place! It’s an ancient city set on top of a hill and in the olden times was surrounded by a wall. Some of the wall can be seen today. There are quaint shops, beautiful old buildings, and I loved walking down the narrow alleys and seeing what we would come across. In the olden times, the Jewish, Muslims and Christians all lived within the walled city in their own areas. You can walk around each area and see the differences in each one!

So how we got there was we got a bus from Madrid bus station which was about 45min/1 hour to Toledo. Then from there we walked up to the old city.

While we were there, we took a small train (it’s not really a train but just a small bus that looks like a train with an open top) and it took us around the area and out of the city so we could take some great photos of the whole city from afar. I would suggest you do this as it’s the only way to get a great photo of it. They stop for 5 minutes for you to get out and take your photos.

If you plan to go, I would advise to go during midweek rather than the weekends. When we went it was pretty busy already and that was on a Tuesday.

But yeah, definitely make a stop to this pretty place if you are ever in Madrid!

Aisling

Madrid

After my lovely stay with my family, we’ve moved on to Madrid, where we will be here for 10 days. My fiancés parents are also here so we are spending time with them checking out the city. I didn’t really know much about it but from what I’ve seen, it’s very pretty. I especially love the buildings. There are lots of parks to walk around and there hasn’t been one cloud since we arrived!

Of course now I’m not used to the sun after spending time in Ireland, so it’s making me tired. We usually go for a nap when the sun is at it’s hottest, and then head back out when it’s a bit cooler.

Now that I’m in Spain, I can really notice how their Spanish accent is different to the Mexican one. I prefer the Mexican accent, it just sounds better I think. (Of course being with a Mexican is making me biased) I also realised how fast they speak! Ah how am I ever going to understand them!? I just zone out when I hear people speaking. I know I should try and listen, but when I can only understand/hear one word  in a whole sentence, then that is what makes me not bother!

But yeah, so far I’m enjoying my time in Madrid!

Aisling

This Time Last Year

IMG_8987

The University where I worked at

It’s strange to think that this is the first September that I’ve been in Ireland for 5 years. Every September I’ve been in China. It’s not very significant but it means a lot to me. It’s change, and that’s good.

This time last year I started teaching University students. I was making PPT’s for them and getting used to waking up at 6:30am, work at 8am. I was trying to learn all the students names and where my classes were for teaching every class. Little did I know that in a years time I would be at home enjoying time with my family and getting ready to go to Mexico. It’s a nice feeling to know that my life has changed (in a good way) from 12 months ago.

As for teaching and after my crappy students from last semester, I’ve gone off teaching altogether. I really want to try something new. I’m really fed up of teaching now. The students did a good job with that!

I think private teaching would be ok in the future. When I worked in a private company I had some great students and I really enjoyed their classes. But first I’ll try and do something that I want do, and then maybe for extra income I could work teaching privately. It’s good to know that I can fall back into teaching if everything else fails. (which I’m sure they won’t)

But yeah, it’s just a great feeling to know that things are moving now. I’m not stuck in China teaching yet again, for another year. I can start to learn Spanish, I can start looking at jobs I want to do, I can start doing things that I just couldn’t do in China.

Even making friends, I hope I can make new lifelong Mexican friends in Mexico. In China, we made friends and then lost them…. as everyone moves away eventually. So it’s hard to meet and keep in contact with people, especially in China.

I have to think, what will I be doing this time next year? I’ll most likely be in Mexico. Will my Spanish be good? I hope I’ll have new friends. I hope I’ll be living in an apartment. Ha I’ll push the boat out and hope I’ll win the lotto and be rich.

Who knows!

Aisling

While I’ve Been Back

While I’ve been home in Ireland, there are more and more things that I notice every time I come back. Here are a few since I came home.

Roche Castle

Roche Castle

There really are 4 seasons in 1 day

In China, it’s either sunny or cloudy/smoggy and there is little change during the day. In Ireland, in the morning it could be sunny, at noon it could be cloudy, in the evening it could be sunny and then all of a sudden rain would appear, and then maybe it will be cloudy again. It really does fluctuate here, and I’ve never realised how much it does until I came back here. So you really do have to have an umbrella and coat with you!

Ireland is dirty

Having lived in Chengdu which is very very clean, and then travelling around Japan, which is also spotless, I arrive in Ireland and there’s rubbish everywhere. A bottle here, a crisp packet there….. It’s only now that I realise how dirty it is. While we were in Dublin, I saw two dead rats on the pavement (plus loads of rubbish). I admit I feel quite ashamed of the state of my own country. Why do people think it’s ok to throw rubbish instead of just putting it in the bin? I’ll never understand it. But yeah, unfortunately Ireland is very dirty in comparison to Chengdu and Japan.

More variety in ethnicities.

Having moved from Ireland 5 years ago, I’ve noticed many more different ethnicities here. Even in my small town of 40,000 I’ve seen many more. (I really don’t understand why they would come to where I live, there’s nothing to do here!) I don’t see a problem with them coming here once they contribute to society and not just arrive to receive social benefits. Also in Dublin I’ve seen a lot more tourists about! It’s good to see but I can see in the future that the city won’t be able to handle the big influx. Dublin isn’t a very big city at all, so I feel there may be problems in the future.

More expensive

I was looking at the prices of sweets in shops, and a lot of small bars are like €1! Just for a chocolate bar! I don’t know whether I’ve just never noticed when I lived here before, but I really don’t remember having to pay €1 for a bar. Maybe 70cent. But yeah, I do notice things are expensive here. (Cry)

People are fat

Again, I’ve noticed that there are many bigger people here. Maybe it didn’t register when I lived here before, but I feel there are more people that would border on being obese than before.

Needing a car

My house is literally 5-10 minutes away by car from the town centre. It’s really close but yet I need a car to get there. There are no pavements on my road until closer to the town, and I wouldn’t feel safe walking on the road (it’s quite busy), so the only way to get there is by car. There are also no buses.

It’s actually quite annoying. My fiancés parents also said that they wouldn’t like to live here because you need a car. So it’s nice to live in the countryside but that means you will need your own transport to get around. The transport system here is crap, and unless you live in a big city like Dublin then you need a car to go pretty much anywhere.

I’m sure there are more that I can’t think of right now. It’s nice being with the family though. I love going to bed in my own bedroom and sticking something on to watch while I’m surrounded by all my own things. I couldn’t do that in China.

Aisling

Back Home: My Thoughts

I’ve been home for nearly 1 month now, and it’s the first time in a long time that I didn’t have to think about going back to China. Being home this time round has made me realise some things…

The first is that I don’t actually miss China as much as I thought. Of course I miss my independent lifestyle, my apartment and the transport, but I thought I would miss it much more! Since arriving home, I’m enjoying the colder weather and that I don’t sweat at all now, I’m enjoying my Mum’s food. I like being with my Mum and Dad at home, and I feel I’ve a better relationship with them now than when I left for China 5 years ago. I suppose I’ve matured more.

The second is that I would like to live closer to the family. I’ve been missing my nephews grow up and I know that the next time I see them they’ll be completely different. They won’t be the nephews that I have in my mind 1 year ago. They’ll be brand new boys to me. Also Mum and Dad aren’t getting any younger so that’s another reason.

I know one thing though…. I wouldn’t be able to settle down in my hometown. It’s too quiet, too small, and absolutely nothing happens here. So that’s one thing that I know.

We are moving to Mexico soon so I can learn Spanish, and I kind of have mixed feelings about. I really want to go and learn Spanish, but then at the same time I feel like we are back to square one, and that we’ll always be feeling in limbo. I have no idea where we are going to settle down, and it stresses me out. We can’t buy this or buy that because we’ll have to bring it with us when we move.

We would love a dog but we just can’t at the moment as we have no idea where we are going to be living.

So it’s nice to be home, but at the same time, I’m in limbo!

Aisling