Traveling in Covid Times

Updated: Dec 6, 2020

Since the pandemic took our world over, many of us had to cancel vacations or give up on a vacation altogether. I was flying to Wuhan, China on Jan 22, 2020, the day Wuhan entirely closed the city. One hour before my flight was to leave Narita Airport in Tokyo. I flew back to the US hours after I had landed in Japan, a long-awaited hiking trip with my Chinese friend canceled. Since then, my hiking trip with my 12-year old son to volcanoes in Guatemala, my hike over the Pyrenees from France to Spain with my 14-year old daughter, following the footsteps of persecuted Cathar heretics in the 12th and 13th centuries, canceled… I replaced them with epic road trips through 9 states. And then, I had to go to Mexico.


Flying domestically (I flew to Vegas back in August) was definitely a very sanitized affair. Flying to Mérida via New York City and Mexico city was no different, still felt as safe. Distancing was practiced; mask wearing enforced; and plenty of sanitizer was available. I flew Delta and AeroMexico. While the flights within and to Mexico City were close to empty, simplifying social distancing, the flight to Mérida was packed. Not a single empty seat. Everyone had masks on and was constantly disinfecting. Delta had a package with its care standards and disinfectant. AeroMexico reminded passengers constantly of its policies.


Arriving in Merida, it was interesting to see all the measures in place. I would say most everyone does carefully follow the measures in place. Vigils at the entrance of stores check shoppers' temperature and spray their hands. Some stores request that shoes be disinfected. Entering the food market means a temperature check, disinfecting your hands and walking into an area with a spray, like the mist at parks like Disney World. They are taking things extremely seriously here. Many of the city buses have plastic curtains separating seats, and the city relocated many of the bus stops and terminals to spread people around.


I will post about medical stuff soon but note that my doctor here told me that he believes a lot of the Covid deaths could have been avoided had people consulted sooner. Indeed, he added that people here see contracting the virus as a shameful thing and hide it from their love ones and doctors until they are very unwell.


One certain effect is that Mérida is a lot quieter. No more bumping into anyone as you walk on the sidewalk downtown (always a smile exchanged when this happens -I kind of miss that actually). Traffic is very reduced and crossing the road is a piece of cake; and sadly, many shops and restaurants are closed or quite empty.


Mérida is a city that offers a lot to tourists and tourism is a major contributor to the economy. As such, many tourism-related jobs have been lost. As domestic travel seems to rebound a bit, and international tourists start planning vacations, if you travel, think about tipping a little more. In Mérida, a little goes a long way and a daily $1 for each one of the cleaning ladies makes for 10% of their daily wages. If you can, tip.


Armelle

Travel Expert









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