Things couldn't get much worse than that.
That night I took the overnight train from Dali to Kunming to arrive at dawn to catch a flight that morning to Guangzhou. The condition of my health was suspect, I didn't sleep well on the train, the pain was still there but I was breathing and walking so all was good.
I'm at my gate ready to board my flight, It's ten fifteen in the morning. I am looking at the time and wondering why we weren't boarding. I am thinking, on no, this is not a good sign.
I am watching the clock and no one is boarding the airplane. Suddenly, lots of people start milling around at the check in desk. Things started to get heated. People on both sides of the desk start yelling at each other back and forth. Suddenly a hundred Chinese people are screaming at a man waving his arms back and forth. Then, everyone stops. The man who was waving his arms says this flight has been cancelled and he starts to walk off.
I am now exhuasted, not knowing why. I have now lost a day of travel. Catch a new flight? Now? A woman traveler who's English was marginal said, follow him! The man was walking and I started following him.
There were people everywhere! A swarm of humanity in the airport that morning. I had no idea where we were going but I couldn't lose him. I couldn't keep up. The backpack felt like a bag of bricks, my feet were aching and I had a raging headache. I stopped every 20 feet to catch my breath. I could never remember anytime in my travels that walking was so difficult to do.
Back at the ticket counter there is a mass confusion of people shoving and waving tickets in the air. The people behind the counters were focused on their screens finding flights as fast as their fingers would move. No one spoke English and in my worst Chinese I told them where I needed to go.
Sorry there is nothing for you today.
What? Maybe I said this wrong. Now my 3 day relaxing excursion to the States was starting to become a race against time. I tried again. This time no one was listening. I start to wave my arms like everyone else.
An airline agent saw my distress and came over to the desk. Can I herp you prease. I explained my situation to him. He immediately started talking to a woman and she started yelling at people and everyone started typing. In no time I had a ticket to Guangzhou. Hundreds of Chinese travelers on my side of the desk just glared at me. Some times being a foreigner has it's perks.
Then I said what about my bag? My bag had been checked on the cancelled flight. Where it was now was anyones guess. Go get it in baggage claim and recheck it? I looked around. People everywhere, total chaos. The task looked daunting. Another hour do I have the time? My new flight was in an hour. No, no time. There was some discussion. One of the ticket agents held her hand out across the desk said, give ticket!
I said ok?
She nodded her head to assure me.... ok no the worrying.
With a moment of Zen clarity I hand her the only evidence I had to my bag.
My bag, now, is out of my sight. Gone. Disappeared in airport hell. Breathe....let it go... It will be ok, it will show up, somewhere somehow. I was too tired to get upset. What could happen? Its only a Chinese airport!
We were late in landing by the time I arrived in Guangzhou. I had been traveling for 24 hours, no shower, same clothes. no toothbrush. I couldn't wait to get my bag.
But it was not to be. Standing for what seemed like an hour at the baggage carousel I quickly surmised... It was not my day. No bag, no clean clothes, no nothing. Not a good sign. I now had two hours to make it to Hong Kong. I barely had time. What ever was I thinking when I made these arrangements? With my bag gone and running out of time, I sat down feeling defeated.
Several days earlier, before the heart attack that I thought was no doubt anxiety, in a village square waiting for my Escooter to recharge, I came upon a farmer with his horse and cart. He was yelling at the horse and just like that he took the reins of his horse wrapped them around a light pole pinning the horse's nose against the pole and began whipping the horse mercilessly. Screaming in agony, the horse kept climbing the pole, arching it's back unable to get away, unable to defend itself. Over and over again he whipped it. Just like that! Damn! And just like that I walked right up to him and said stop! I couldn't stand to watch this poor horse suffer anymore.
Things definitely could be worse.