By Mary Anne Whitcomb
The invitation came at just the right time, when we were covid-weary of staying at home. “Come join us for a week in Cancun in October!”–an offer by my sister-in-law and her husband who own a two-bedroom timeshare in Cancun. After checking out the health situation (Mexico had the same safety protocols as the US and welcomed US citizens flying into Mexico) we happily accepted and booked our flights. We decided to have a few days in Cancun before our relatives arrived; this synced with the flight availability nicely for a nine-night getaway.
On our flight to Cancun we checked out the weather and saw rain in the forecast each day, not the best but we hoped these were passing showers. Our first day in Cancun was bright and sunny but the next day had intermittent showers. Day three saw the arrival of Tropical Storm Gamma and the resort staff did their best to keep us safe as we walked around the resort for meals. Our suite was oceanfront, and we watched the roiling waves and swaying palms. That day we had reserved a cabana but saw that the wind had pounded it to pieces and other cabanas were floating in the pool.
It was time to go to our relatives’ timeshare; on our way we heard from them that their flight had been cancelled due to the storm but to go ahead and check in. The next day was sunny and we enjoyed the resort while waiting for our hosts. All went well the following day as well, and then it happened. After finishing water aerobics, we were told to meet in the lobby with a pillow, blanket, and a towel: we were being evacuated for Hurricane Delta. Delta was forecast to make landfall at Cancun as a category four and the Governor of Quintana-Roo, Cancun’s province, ordered all hotel guests to be evacuated to shelters.
Our evacuation site was a private school, and we were led to empty classrooms with mats on the floor, this would be our home for the next 24 hours. We arrived mid-afternoon and settled in as best we could as Delta was not scheduled to arrive until 3 am the next morning. We watched as emergency provisions were brought into the school and then had lunch: can of tuna, a can of mixed vegetables, two pieces of bread, a packet of mayonnaise, a bottle of water, and a packet of cookies.
With time on our hands we explored the school. Our assigned classroom was on the ground floor, likely because we were all seniors. There were twelve people in our little world—the four of us and eight new friends. While we love our grandchildren, we were very happy that there were no children with us in the room. The classrooms opened to the outside and we walked around still-calm surroundings. The bathrooms were shared lavatories, men’s on first floor, women’s on the second floor.
With our small lunch we were hungry for dinner but were disappointed to see a scoop of canned chicken, two pieces of bread, and a packet of mayonnaise for our repast. Many people read or tried to sleep, and the lights went off at 10 pm.
In the early morning Delta arrived, announced by the power going off and the very loud emergency generator starting. It was a challenge climbing the wet stairs to go to the restroom, all lit only by emergency lighting. Morning arrived as did our tasty breakfast (the bar had been set very low by dinner) of Frosted Flakes, milk, a fruit cup, water, bread, and jam. From a reconnaissance walk and update by hotel staff staying with us, we learned that we dodged a bullet as Delta arrived as a category two, not four, hurricane. Knowing we were safe, we were anxious to get back to our resort. We did not board a bus until 2 pm as the Mexican National Guard had to clear the road of storm debris. While waiting we were offered more canned chicken and bread, but we passed this up.
Finally, we were back at the resort which was in good shape with just some downed trees on the property. We lost a day from our vacation, but we were safe and had a story to tell when we got home.
I would have no problem returning to Mexico for vacation; I felt safe as protocols were followed and the resorts were beautiful. I may just not go back during hurricane season.