Mike’s Memories: Travel Files

Me in 2013. No significance to the story, but the closest picture I could find to when it was written.

Between my TV hosting, my podcasting, my world-record adjudicating, and recently getting into a serious relationship (those take up a lot more time than I expected), I haven’t had time to write as much long-form as I used to. So, when I can’t crank out new things, how about a trip to the vault for some Mike Memories?

Before I had enough money to buy my own domain name, I used to run a page on Blogger where I’d write much longer pieces for when social media rants weren’t enough. When I deactivated that site, a lot of that content went unpublished.

A lot of it was also pretty bad (though, if you don’t look back on your old work and cringe, you haven’t grown). But a few things here and there still hold up, so I’m going to bring those back in Mike’s Memories. Basically, I’ll re-publish some old blogs, add new writer’s commentary, and we can all relive some of my past words through a new lens.

As I’m off to London for a pre-Christmas vacation this week, I thought I’d dust off an old running gimmick of mine: Mike’s Travel Files. I used to keep one of these after every new trip I made, and maybe I’ll restart that moving forward. But for now, let’s dip into the vault and check out what I had to say about visiting Colombia four years ago this month.

*****

Dec. 17, 2013 – Wow, remember when I used to write on this blog? Can’t believe it’s been almost three months since the last time (Mike 2017: I guess me not writing for long stretches is nothing new). Well, that’s not gonna fly around here anymore. So, because I travel a lot for work and like to go on a lot of personal adventures too, I’m adding this new feature to keep me honest.

So welcome to Mike’s Travel Files. Whenever I go somewhere – for a weekend, for a vacation, for a work trip – I’ll try to come up with a few thoughts to share. They won’t necessarily be about the place I visit, but always about my journey/experience. And we begin in South America.

COLOMBIA


Place: Bogota, Colombia

Reason(s) for going: Work trip; hoping to run into Sofia Vergara or Shakira at the airport (Mike 2017: neither happened)

Duration: 42 hours

Best food I hadCazuela at the hotel restaurant; like if paella and French onion soup had a baby

Would I go back: To Colombia, yes. To Bogota, probably not

General Impressions

This was one of those work trips that really puts a destination at a handicap from the start. My flight out of JFK left Friday at 1 a.m., putting me in Bogota by 6:30 that same morning. I then spent Friday and Saturday in town, before jumping on a flight back at 1:25 a.m. Sunday (Mike 2017: this sounds like hell).

So, with the crazy flight times, extremely quick turnaround, and the little time I did have in town dominated by work obligations, it’s not like I had ages to go sightseeing or enjoy the local scene.

Still, Bogota itself struck me as a decent enough place, but not on the same South American level as a Buenos Aires or Rio. I visited the one three-star Frommers attraction in town (Mike 2017: I was/am such a dad. I have no children) and got through it in about a half hour. Every local I talked to told me that I had to stay longer — but not to enjoy Bogota; to go visit the country’s other cities. I heard that Cartagena, Barranquilla, and Cali were all places I should go instead, and this was from people who live in Bogota!

I know it’s not fair to compare a country the size of a combined Louisiana/Texas/New Mexico to the entirety of the U.S., but I couldn’t help thinking about a foreigner visiting our national capital. And if someone from Colombia came to Washington, D.C., for two days, I feel like locals would tell them about all the things they could do right there in town, as opposed to saying they really need to go check out New York, Boston, and Miami instead.

TURBULENCE: THE SILENT KILLER

I’m a rational, logical person. I know that turbulence does not normally crash planes. I’ve read articles written by pilots where they say they’ve hit such bad air that it knocked over a drink cart and flight attendant, only for the altimeter to read that the plane only moved a total of 3 feet.

Still, whenever I hit bad turbulence on a flight – despite being the seasoned flier I am – it still freaks me out (Mike 2017: four years later, and nothing I said in this sentence has changed). This time, right after the pilot announced we were beginning our initial descent back to JFK, we hit 30 seconds of such massive turbulence that I later overheard the pilot tell a flight attendant, “I don’t know what the hell happened up there.” Not ideal.

And no matter how much I rationalize it on the ground, once you’re in this 200-person steel coffin 36,000 feet in the air, all bets are off for how you react (Mike 2017: this is very reassuring to re-read two days before I fly to Europe). My normal reaction is calm on the outside, but palms sweating as I vise-grip my seatbelt and heart races on the inside. The irony being, of course, that while I may never die from a turbulence-induced crash, the accumulated stress from it may one day give me a heart attack.

“I LOVE TRAVELING. I HATE TRAVELERS.”

Work travel can be a hassle, but I’ve realized I don’t hate traveling. I hate travelers. Why? Because these things all happened on my trip:

  • A man sitting next to me on one flight had either already given up deodorant for Lent three months early, or had a permanent case of body odor worth visiting a doctor. Good thing I wasn’t stuck in a middle seat between him and a lady trying to hawk up mucus the entire trip or anything (Mike 2017: I was. This sentence was supposed to read as sarcasm. I don’t think I wrote it well enough. #Growth)
  • One woman sitting in the seat in front of me on a flight decided to #youngwildfree and drape her hair over the back of her headrest and into my lap (Mike 2017: today I use hashtags in writing ironically. In 2013, I’m pretty sure it was earnest). Not like I was hoping to read a magazine or eat a meal without someone’s hair in the way, though.
  • A couple barricaded the one available charging station at a gate by surrounding it with two rows of seats and promptly deciding to sit in two of the seats and put all their luggage in the rest. How can you be that inconsiderate as an adult?

  • Ok, cheating on this one because he wasn’t a traveler, but I got back into the U.S. via Miami and went to go through customs. I have Global Entry* so I had a special lane to go through. I misread the sign and, rather than walking through the open door meant for me, tried walking through a closed door to get to the same agent. I realize my mistake and he opens with, “Now tell me man, why would you try to go through a closed door when you see an open one?” My response: “5 a.m., long night.” Him, instead of letting it go: “Because, I mean, that just makes zero sense to me. Like, why would you even think that was a good idea? What were you actually thinking?” What I then wanted to, but couldn’t, say for fear of being detained by TSA: “(Mike 2017: I’ve redacted this joke because it was crude and crass and Mike 2013 had a lot to learn about appropriate humor for print).

*Which I legitimately cannot endorse enough. Fantastic creation, government. (Mike 2017: remember when we used to praise the government?)


TRACY MORGAN IS TRACY JORDAN

Instagram/realtracymorgan

Lastly, I’ve shared flights with a few stars before. Sarah Silverman, Erin Andrews, Faizon Love*. They all behaved normally; kind of a real-life example of Us Weekly’s “Stars: They’re Just Like Us!”

*If you don’t consider Faizon Love a star, you obviously didn’t grow up watching “Parent ‘Hood.” (Mike 2017: Still a great show)

Well, Tracy Morgan is not like any of us.

We shared a connecting flight back from Miami to New York and it shouldn’t have surprised me how much he basically is his Tracy Jordan character in real life.

  • Wardrobe: snow white cable-knit sweater that probably cost a few hundred dollars. A watch whose size and bling made me squint that probably cost a few thousand dollars. And a pair of FILA velour sweatpants that I would actually make you pay me to wear (Mike 2017: FILA’s making a comeback now!).
  • Behavior: when an admittedly in-the-wrong bro with a pink popped collar polo leaned over Tracy’s shoulder from behind a chair and asked for a photo, Morgan’s response: “Too f—ing early man. 6 in the mornin’! Too. F—ing. Early.” Perfect.
  • And his most boss move: Boarding early with first class wasn’t enough for Morgan. Instead, he had some woman stand in the first-class boarding line for him, then call him from his seat once she got to the front of the line to have the ticket scanned. The line was literally six people long and he still couldn’t be bothered to wait in it. Two cherries on top: first, he then tried to walk past the gate agent without showing his ticket because sure. Second, the woman who stood in line for him wasn’t an airport employee, but also didn’t board herself and I’m not even sure was on the flight.

And that’s how I knew that – as I finished a quick and crazy trip to Colombia – I hadn’t met Sofia or Shakira, but I had seen the real-life Liz Lemon (Mike 2017: I miss “30 Rock”).

*****

Mike 2017 recap: I legitimately forgot I once shared a flight with Tracy Morgan. He really was as amazing in real life as you’d hope. Also, I have not been back to Colombia since, and still haven’t met Sofia Vergara.

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