July 1, 2020 | Source: Paula Castaneda
Safe to Travel?
The million dollar question for so many right now. Actually one could say the trillion dollar question which is the tally globally of tourism industry losses across the board.
People are fearful going to the grocery store so thinking about navigating airports seems like a much larger threat. I get it. I feel like I am taking my life in my hands every time I go to the store for food, which by the way I can’t live without, and I return feeling victorious as if I won a battle. I leave in my mask, my money prearranged in my purse to minimize fiddling at check out and a full battle plan for avoiding others who are less fearful coming close to me in the market or going maskless. The experience of going to the grocery store is no longer for supplies but only when necessary and for survival.
Stuck in the States
My grandson’s birth in March took me from the Hacienda San Angel back to the states to be with my daughter. Within a week we were in lockdown and I couldn’t get back to the Hacienda. I had worried when I left PV, which was Covid free at the time, that I was flying into the thick of it where it was reported to be growing in California. Before long I was closing the hotel from a distance, I was wondering if life would ever return to normal, I was wondering could I ever leave the house without fear again, and how would the hotel survive.
After two months of isolation, seeing that the virus wasn’t going away, I realized, I have to find a way to live in the world without exposing myself to the virus. I also knew that I couldn’t avoid returning to the Hacienda San Angel in Puerto Vallarta any longer.
Trip Back to Hacienda San Angel
I was very nervous about going to the airport, getting on the plane and flying. I am pleased to report it was actually less stressful than the grocery store! I never felt crowded or close to anyone. Every person was masked. All in the airport were careful and respectful of distance. Sanitizer everywhere! The middle seat between me and the other person in my row on the plane was empty. Though we felt in close proximity, we both wiped down our area with wipes and kept our distance not talking or getting in each other’s space. I kept telling myself to pretend everyone is infected and don’t do anything to share germs…and it worked. I should say, at this point, I wasn’t really afraid but I was hypervigilant keeping myself safe; not moving quickly, looking ahead and plotting my path always. I purposefully emptied my bladder before getting on the plane and drank very little in order to not need the bathroom on the plane. Once in PV, I took a taxi applying same vigilance touching nothing in the cab. I allowed the driver to load my luggage and open my door. Once in the hotel washed and sanitized my hands and luggage. I’m proud to say I managed not to touch my face once.
I never applied such vigilance to germ avoidance in my life! I don’t want to be ruled by fear. I don’t want to be in a heightened state of anxiety all the time. I don’t want to be stuck indoors all the time either. AND I want to open the hotel again. So…my inner control freak propelled me to make a safety plan to follow here and when out in the community.
Cases climb in the states and in Mexico both as I write this blog. I don’t perceive one country to be any safer than the other. In both countries, I observe people being careful and others not being careful. In both countries I observe a range of politicians supporting and not supporting masks. I think the issue for potential travelers now really is, “Can I safely navigate the airport and flight”. Each person must answer this for themselves. When is the right time to start traveling again? The answer is different for different people.
This journey is not over and the trajectory of how this pandemic will change so many things is yet to unfold. What I do know, is that if one finds a way to overcome the fears and risks of travel to Puerto Vallarta, Hacienda San Angel will be one of the safest places you can land. I don’t believe I personally would survive the virus should I become infected and so protecting myself becomes the model I follow to keep employees, and soon future guests, protected.
I wish I had a crystal ball and could see when tourists will return to PV. So many here depend on tourism to survive. Many tell me they can’t wait to return to the Hacienda San Angel; my fear is if it takes too long we won’t be here to revisit. It’s kind of like Darwinism; survival of the fittest. Which businesses have the resources and savings to stay alive until tourists return. Hacienda San Angel is not alone in this journey. So many around the world, not just PV, are asking the same questions.
To all readers, past guests and potential new visitors in the future (being optimistic!), please remember to count your blessings no matter how small. Take steps to stay safe and well. I hope that you find this experience to be a character and wisdom building one rather than an anxiety provoking one. To those who have lost a loved one to Covid, my heart is on the ground for you. It’s not fair and impossible to understand how this could’ve happened. I still feel the sharp pain of the loss of my mother last year and imagine the pain of so many losses around the world now.
For now, the answer to the question, “Safe To Travel?”, is a personal one that each individual must assess. Know that Puerto Vallarta is as beautiful as ever and full of friendly welcoming residents. The Hacienda San Angel is as serene as always and safer than ever. We will take good care of you when you find your way here.
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