About Pandemic Prowling: In this series, Pandemic Prowling, I share stories about my travels across 4 continents (Asia, N. America, S. America, Africa) amidst the outbreak of Covid19.
Who The Hell is He?
(late April 2020)
It was dark and gloomy on that red eye flight from Oakland, California to Guadalajara, Mexico. Family back home were hoping and praying that I would be denied boarding so that I can remain in the States where they thought it would be safest for me.
That prayer went unanswered as I tried to catch some sleep in a rather crowded flight.
There wasn’t much sleep to be had as we arrived there early in the morning. As with any country you visit, one must clear immigration first. Of course with all the Covid scare, additional precautions were taken, from face masks, hand washing to temperature checks.
Despite that, we all still needed to cue up to jump through the hoops. And me, obviously looking different from everyone else, stood out like a sore thumb. The people around me (everyone was Latino except me) gave me sideways looks and looked me up and down before giving each other knowing looks.
I ignored it best I could, I knew that up until this point that I have only traveled in countries were I can more or less blend in… up until this point. My time as an English teach in Thailand gave me preparation on being comfortable being stared at, but this was going to be at a whole nother level.
Of course immigration officers everywhere in the world look at passports when controlling borders despite any preconceived perceptions they may have so I had no trouble getting into Mexico.
It was early in the morning though, 5AM roughly. After downloading the local rideshare app (Cabify), I struggled to get my request accepted. I guess during these times no one is traveling and therefore supporting services such as taxies were scaled down drastically as well.
A bit disappointed, I switched to plan B. I walked to the information desk asking for directions for the bus into the city center. The gentleman behind the counter was courteous and gave me what I need so I began making the 30 minute walk to the main road.
The First Pale Light In the East
It was still dark when I flagged down that bus and as we sped down the road, the sun began to rise. It was beautiful watching the landscape in the glimmering rays of daybreak. I thought back to my trip to the Grand Canyon in Arizona 3 years ago…
BUT, the bus proceeded to make a right turn off the main road.
“Shoot,” I thought to myself, “Wrong bus!”
I frantically got the driver stop as I jumped out, much to the bemusement of the other passengers. Then it was a matter of walking back to the main road to catch another bus, this time asking for “Centro” and asking for either a “Si” or “No” answer using broken Spanish so that I’d get it right this time.
Which I did, and once in the city center, it was merely walking in the direction the GPS on my Google Maps instructs me to before reaching my hotel.
And that is where exploring the world during this “New Normal” began.