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Coronavirus,  D.G. Kaye,  Fun stuff,  Memories,  Mexico,  THOUGHTS,  Travel reports

Mexican Tales – Leaving Puerto Vallarta – Wheelchair Madness

Anxious to get home, virus-free, I’d taken the best precautions I could with what I had. The Coronavirus wasn’t ‘a thing’ really mentioned or dwelled upon yet in Puerto Vallarta on that 12th day of March when we said goodbye to our winter friends. But I’d been keeping up with world news and knew it was going to be something real big, real soon.

I had the hand-sanitizer and disinfectant wipes I’d brought down with us, at the ready in my purse. I slipped 2 masks in my pocket for us and we were leaving, heading down to the lobby with the luggage cart Hub had brought up from the lobby to load our many bags onto. No gloves, but fully protected by the plastic bags I put on my hands to navigate that cart to the elevator and out to the cab to protect from invisible germs on my hands. I was leaving beautiful Puerto Vallarta where the sun shone, the birds sang and the ocean beckoned, all appeared as though all was right in the world. We were off to the airport, which gratefully, had yet to get busy as we departed days before the spring break and Easter crowd were to invade, and the Coronavirus had yet to become ‘a thing’ yet in Mexico, so all was calm at the airport crazy.

Grateful as always in that airport for the great check-in service and the immediate wheelchair assistance to help push my husband across what seemed well over a mile to our Toronto departure gate, a bonus was having his lap to pile more bags onto. We went on our way, walking, walking, and as usual, a long security check line that I smiled inwardly as we bypassed the crowds into the ‘special services’ lane. Bonus!

After putting ourselves and our belongings back together off the security belt, we continued on to the journey to our gate. Then we stopped at the elevator. I questioned the young man pushing the wheelchair in my broken Spanish, ‘why are we going down’, and before he could answer in broken English, I knew. Once again, we were taking the bus from the street level to the tarmac. Oye!

We had over an hour to wait for the bus boarding and our section with passengers to both Toronto and a flight to Montreal was getting busy. I’d remembered the year prior when the wheelchair assistant was assigned to someone, they were to come back before boarding to help on the bus/plane. But I never saw him again, yet, I saw other helpers standing by the passengers waiting to assist them. So off I went.

I  dashed over to the boarding gate desk to ask for an assistant, but that never came to fruition. There was no way I could carry everything and assist my hub, so off I went again to ask an assistant helping another passenger to please radio for someone to help us. Finally, someone showed.

We finally made it off the bus and I grabbed what I could while the assistant grabbed another of our bags and the arm of my husband and walked him up the airplane stairs. I was grateful. We couldn’t snag a first class seat on the return flight, but I did manage a comfort row, which offered better legroom and food included, plus 2 bags each at no extra cost. I made friends with the lady, Janice, in the middle seat between Hub’s window and my aisle seats, and it seems we blabbed almost all the way home. Once we landed, my new friend Janice was kind enough to grab our bags out of the above bins, as it seems I’m iust a tad to short to reach them, happy to have the good samaritan to the rescue. I didn’t even get a chance to thank her and she was gone, she exited the plane and I never saw her at baggage pick-up again. Definitely an earth angel who kept me company and helped out then slithered away like those kind of people we meet for reasons and seasons.

As Hub and I exited the plane there were no wheelchairs on the ramp. What? Oye! I loaded up the bags onto my tired shoulders and pulled what else I could, gave one lighter bag to hub, and dashed ahead as Hub followed and caught up to me at the end of the ramp where there were several folded wheelchairs. I picked one out. waited for hub to amble up on his cane then sat him in it, re-piled the bags on him, and as I began to push us out of the congested area, I asked a rep where wheelchair assistance was. I was told to wait with the rest of the (many) wheelchair passengers in a designated area and staff would help with chairs in about half hour. Lol, you know that wasn’t happening. I don’t do waiting well.

I have to add that pushing someone in a wheelchair with almost 100 extra pounds of baggage on me and hub’s lap, and a cane that somehow kept getting stuck in our path, is no piece of cake. And I will admit, you didn’t want to be in my way as I blazed my way through a crowd and alas, spotted ‘the’ elevator that led down to the next floor where customs was located – only about another mile or so once off the elevator.  I pushed the button, loaded us in and landed on the lower floor. The door opened with a thud to a barricade.

The door opened but there was no place to exit because it was blocked by approximately 30-40 wheelchairs! They weren’t in any organized order, just left in one huge pile in a disarray blocking the elevator door. What could I do? There was no way I could even get off to sort out that mess. No way was I going back up and waiting. I told hub to hang on tight and keep his feet tucked in as tightly as possible then proceeded to bulldoze our way through the wheelchair madness. It was like a demolition derby but a few moments later we were victorious and we were out! We laughed together as my husband kept saying I was a madwoman and he was scared of my ambition and of being on the frontline of my bulldozing. We continued to laugh.

I pushed and pushed for what felt like miles on my worn out bones and cursed my airport as usual, for having the longesttttt walks from any gate. About 20 minutes later we arrived at customs. The room was crowded and despite our advantage of going through special services and avoiding the long lines, we still had to wait first to put our passports through a kiosk security machine before approaching customs agent. Bad instructions, not a soul to help anyone, and after 10 minutes of fiddling and retrying numerous times, I finally got our clearance slip out of the machine we were to hand to the customs agent.

I was observant of the airport staff, keeping an eye around to see what my airport was doing with the emerging Covid19 problem, which had yet to be declared a pandemic for another day or so after our return. I noticed quite a few airport employees wearing masks, others not. I may have bypassed a few signs warning to wash hands and sanitize, but nothing much. The customs agent  had on no mask. He asked us where we’ve been and for how long. I handed him the form spit out from the kiosk machine that quite frankly, asked the same questions. No further questions, not even asked if we had been ill while away or anything to declare. Wow! And we were on our way to baggage pick-up.

The airport was exceptionally busy. I found a porter to come fetch our bags off the belt and take us to a limo. The luggage from our flight had already come down the belt and was placed in a section on the floor as flights were coming in fast and furious and the next flight’s luggage was already on the belt. The porter pushed our bags and I pushed Hubby out through the gates of freedom once we handed our customs slip out at the exit doors, and gratefully, we weren’t selected to go through inspection.

The cool wind was welcomed once we arrived outside and entered the limo. It was almost the middle of March, usually still in the depths of winter here, but there was no snow to be found and much warmer than the morning we left for Mexico. We’d come home to an early spring.

Since that travel day home, little did I know I came home to a new world in the making. Despite at that point there were no new rules made, no pandemic declared til 2 days after our return when our country clamped down just before the spring break weekend, we took it upon ourselves to isolate for 14 days. I did get sick on Day 5 with many symptoms of the Covid – high fever, dizzy, painful bones, freezing cold. Ironically, my fever broke the very same night of that one sick day. I woke to a sweat-soaked bed and have felt fine ever since. Gratefully, Hubby didn’t get whatever I had, but I’d kept my distance from him as much as possible. I slept with a mask on too and I’m armed and dangerous with gloves, Lysol wipes and anything I could dig out of the storage cupboard.

My Mexican vacation, only a few short weeks ago, feels like it was so long ago now. I’ve been in touch with my real estate friend who emailed me the other day to inform me that the price has already dropped on the new construction condo we’d been eyeing. The Peso is falling. While I was there it was hovering around the usual value – 1 Canadian dollar = usually at 14.5 – 15 Pesos. Today’s value was almost at 17.5 Pesos to the Canadian dollar. Like I told my real estate friend, there’s no way I’m buying anything until the fallout of this global disaster has found a place to land and our own falling dollar makes a comeback.

I have no idea what will be next year. I anticipate a lot of despair, losses, real estate falling, terrible unemployment and devastation because of the isolations and loss of jobs and businesses. Undoubtedly, this anticipation isn’t mine alone, and the reason I haven’t heard a peep since my return from the woman whom I’m supposed to be renting her unit next winter. I’m sure all those that rely on renters for their properties are very concerned what will be next year for tourism.

As it stands now, one of our Canadian friends who winters at the complex with us has sent me a photo a full-time resident friend of his has sent him of the now desolate pool and beach where we all had just spent a lovely and lively time together. Truly a very sad sight, especially at Easter when this beach should be covered with wall to wall people celebrating 24/7 for a week.

 

pool
Hubby on a floatie in the pool

 

Now desolate beach and pool
Now desolate beach and pool

I feel as though next winter is a lifetime away from us now. Who knows where we will be in the world. Nothing is certain right now for anyone. The one thing I do know – I won’t be traveling anywhere again until there is a vaccine for this virus now controlling our lives.

 

happy hour

 

Stay safe!

 

©DGKaye2020

 

 

 

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D.G. Kaye is a nonfiction/memoir writer, who writes from her own life experiences and self-medicates with a daily dose of humor.

55 Comments

  • Stevie Turner

    It looks a beautiful place, Debby. I agree that pushing a fully grown man in a wheelchair is rather demanding! I bought a wheelchair originally to take my mother out, who only weighed about 7 stones. When Sam (who weighs about 13 and a half stones) had his Achilles’ tendon repair and was in a wheelchair for the first few weeks, I tried to push him on our first outing and thought the brakes were still on! Unfortunately they were not. Poor old Sam had to push himself along with his hands on the wheels, as I couldn’t make the chair move very far at all.

  • Toni Pike

    Hi Deb, Oh dear – what an ordeal and a half! The journey home is always dreadful, but people do get treated like cattle at times. Thank goodness you got home just in time. I can’t believe how quickly the world has changed. Toni x

  • Joy Lennick

    I felt tired for you Debs… and you must have been a formidable sight going to bed in a mask, with disinfected gloves! The situation is no joke of course. It reminds me of the camaraderie which existed in World War 11 when I was seven Some people are incredibly resilient, which is just as well. Let’s hope the nightmare ends sooner rather than later.Take care. Virtual hugs. xx

  • Jim Borden

    I can feel your pain as you went through the airports. We flew home from Singapore to Philadelphia on March 15, and we were also shocked at the lack of health screening (none) taking place at the airport.

    That picture of the empty pool is both tempting, and sad.

    But I’m with you, I have no desire to go anywhere until there is a vaccine.

    Will you get tested to see if you had COVID-19? Perhaps you are now immune…

    Hope you and your husband are doing well.

    • dgkaye

      Hi Jim. Wow, I didn’t know you came home from Singapore. That was the March break weekend of craziness at many airports. Glad to hear you’re home safe. I hope you and your family are well. Amazing you all managed to dodge getting ‘it’ after being in Singapore and flying home. Keep those masks on tight!
      About the test, I don’t have to tell you how the world has a shortage. So no, I didn’t receive any tests. But I am hoping for the antibody test in a few weeks to at least let us know if we have had it and if we become immune. I’m sure we’ll all have some kind of news on that front in the next month or so. For now, stay safe!!! 🙂

  • Marian Beaman

    Despite the inconveniences, I’m sure you’re glad you made the trip with Gordon. I remember slinging around 4-wheeled walkers for my mother and aunt. It got them OUT, which is more than we can do today.

    One day you’ll travel again – only when it’s safe and only when you’re ready! Virtual hugs, Debby! ((( )))

    • dgkaye

      Thanks Marian. Those walkers come in darned handy for sure! Ya, so weird to think ahead now wondering if any of us will ever travel again, hard to see the light until a vaccine comes. We first must learn what the ‘new normal’ will be.
      Virtual hugs back at ya Marian. Keep on staying safe. 🙂 x

  • Darlene Foster

    so glad you got home before everything hit the fan. I have a friend who works on a cruise ship who is floating around the Caribbean as no one will let them dock. She would just love to be at home in Canada. Making your way through all those wheelchairs was very funny. Take care!!

    • dgkaye

      Oh wow Darlene, how awful for your friend on the ship! Yes, no matter what the new normal is, there is no place like home! Thanks and stay safe! <3

  • Natalie Ducey

    So glad you’re home safe and feeling better, Debby. It must have been such a scary time. Sending (((hugs))) across the miles. It’s going to be a rough road ahead, but I do believe we’ll get through it together with compassion and grace. Stay well, my friend! xo

    • dgkaye

      Aw thanks for the hugs Natalie, and well wishes. Oh yes, this party is far from over, offering some very big lessons at the same time. You too, stay safe! xxx 🙂

  • John Maberry

    Well, that was tour de force! Or farce, perhaps if one wants to apply it to airline/airport staff. Happy for you that after the ordeals that the dreaded virus did no more damage to you than it did. Wise to put thoughts aside of putting down any money now.

  • lisa thomson

    You got back just in time, Deb! So glad you are both staying healthy. I chuckled a bit at your description of barreling through the wheelchair congestion. Look out! Mad woman coming through! 😛

    It is definite that the world economy is going to take a big hit and take who knows how long to recover. Only time will tell. I hope they create the vaccine by next year. My mom’s in a long-term care home and my siblings are unwilling to remove her. She is with it and physically strong but I worry for her. This virus is running rampant through seniors facilities. Thanks for sharing your experience, Deb.

    • dgkaye

      Thanks bunches Lis. Lol, I tell ya, if I had a free hand and could video that bust out, it would have been hilarious. A girl’s gotta do what she’s gotta do! 🙂 Oh wow, prayers for your mom, such a scary time with these longterm and nursing homes. So many rampant with Covid. I know the gov’t is clamping down on better management for these homes – PPE, no more working in several places – calling for better wages so nurses don’t have to moonlight at more than one facility. This is a new world for sure and new rules will come as the days go by. Keep staying safe Lis! <3 Hugsxx

  • Amy M Reade

    What a nightmare. I’m glad you made it home safely. Traveling is hard enough without all the extra challenges you had to deal with on your way back to Canada. Hopefully there will be a vaccine sooner rather than later, and you can travel to paradise again.

  • Vashti Q

    Wow! Debby, this must have been quite exhausting. It’s no wonder your stay in Mexico is long. I wouldn’t go through all of that to stay only a few days. Phew! Everyone, including myself, is anxious about COVID19 and the aftermath of this pandemic. South Florida numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths keep climbing everyday. We’re not as bad as NYC, but it’s bad. My family and I are taking every precaution to stay safe and healthy, but it’s nerve-wracking. None of us has ever been through anything like this. All of our futures are uncertain. Stay safe and healthy, my friend. <3 xo

    • dgkaye

      Hi Vashti. Ya, no kidding. With all involved to travel, even before Corona came along, it’s a lot of work. We decided a decade ago travel is not worth it for just a week, lol. And yes, I watch and read news throughout the day. I’m sorry for your state, which I’m afraid hasn’t even touched its peak. Your governor. Don’t get me started. 🙁 You know what to do to stay safe, stay home! Mask up for public outings! Please stay safe! <3

  • Terri Webster Schrandt

    To use your words, Deb, OYE! Between your detailed description and my visualization, I experienced some anxiety just reading! I have learned to detest airports. When Sacramento opened its two-story terminal B, I thought the angels were singing! Even with the “train” to the gates, it is so easy. I still get anxious, and now flying more often to Spokane which is like Sacramento’s was 20 years ago, it feels so much easier. I am glad you made it home physically unscathed, but to what we are all asking. I heard Canada may stay on lockdown for several more weeks! Hang in there. We are all in the same giant boat!

    • dgkaye

      Ya Terri, we need those dang trains here. We have a huge airport in Toronto with 3 terminals and all very long walks to and from gates – not ideal for seniors for sure. Yes, we’re on lockdown here. Our dates have moved up a few times. We’re now talking June, but no doubt longer. We are doing well here trying to keep the numbers low with strict enforcements and our gov’t working hard to protect us all. I’m very proud of our gov’t’s handling of our country. Keep distanced and quarantined and only out for essentials. I go out once about every 10 days for groceries. All store staff wear masks and plastic shields and plexi glass on counters between shoppers and cashiers. Thankfully, my timing has always been good because anywhere I’ve gone the stores are empty and plenty on the shelves except maybe sanitizers and toilet paper gone as fast as it comes in. Stay safe! <3

  • Olga Núñez Miret

    Yes, Debby. It’s a shame that we don’t have a video of your bulldozing adventure. I think next time it might be worth carrying a shield or at least a pillow for your husband to protect himself! Tests are in short supply everywhere, and it seems there are cases where people who tested positive and later negative, are positive again. (One young man here in Spain had to be admitted a second time with COVID19. He suffers from leukemia, diabetes, a chest complaint, and his immunity is suppressed, but they’ve warned him that he is likely to get it again later in the year (as it is expected that even if it has gone by then, the virus will be back in the autumn at least the North Hemisphere. His are very special circumstances, but there are people in China who’ve also tested positive a second time, so I wonder about the immunity). Yes, you’re right about the economic situation and also about the need to wait for a vaccine. No long term plans for the time being, I think, but do take care, and let us know what the results say.
    All the best.

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for sharing those scary but true facts Olga. I probably watch too much news and read many world newspapers, so I’m quite aware of what you said here. The scariest thing about this virus is that it’s all unknown, not enough testing, not enough accuracy, not knowing how immunity or if it even does work, so many unanswered questions that undoubtedly can’t be answered for quite some time. Our only way out is a vaccine. And I won’t be traveling anywhere until such time one is created. And no worries, I’d never risk my husband at harm. I had him locked and protected up to his face when I bulldozed LOL <3

  • Jane Sturgeon

    What a ‘tour de force’ you are, Debby and what a trial you had to get home. I am so glad you did and you are well now. The world has changed so quickly. Pushing a wheelchair with an adult in it is enough, without luggage! Much love flowing to you both, always. <3 <3 <3

  • Hugh W. Roberts

    I love the thought of you bulldozing your way through all those wheelchairs, Debby. It puts me in mind on a videogame I used to play.

    Not a great journey home, but glad to hear that your new friend Janice helped and that you got back safely. Future plans are on hold for much of the world. Looking at the quiet streets in cities and beauty spots that are usually full of life makes me think that I’ve landed on a planet with a small population.

    For now, (as you say) stay safe. Together, we’ll all get through this.

    • dgkaye

      Thanks so much Hugh. Yes, plans are on hold for the whole world, and in the meantime, our planet is resting, and that is good thing for everyone. Yes, lol on the videogame. that’s how I felt, but with no protective equipment, lol. 🙂 Stay safe you too! <3

  • Diana Peach

    I could relate to this, Debby. I had to navigate two wheelchairs through the airport when moving my parents west. Thank goodness for good Samaritans. You are a dynamo and your travel stories are entertaining, though they make me tired! Lol. I’m glad you both made it back safely. 🙂

  • Mabel Kwong

    A very vivid description of your flight back from Mexico, Debby. Getting hubby around with those bags did sound like so much work, especially bulldozing through those wheelchairs in front the elevator. That was your post-vacation workout 😛 March does seem like a world away and things can change so fast. I’m not sure if we’ll have a vaccine, and hope this virus thing dies out at some point. I think you’re right about things being upside down next year and the economy will struggle for a while. Here in Australia it’s quiet. Most shops are shut and people are staying home. Hope you are staying safe and take care.

    • dgkaye

      Hi Mabel. Thanks for dropping by. Happy to entertain. Seems all my travels are never simple, lol. But yes, the world as we knew it will never be the same. For now we have only one job is to stay safe, so please do. 🙂 x

  • Balroop Singh

    All’s well that ends well Deb. You definitely are blessed to have steered through all those chaos and glad to know that you could mange it despite all the glitches. You are a fighter! Stay like that and stay safe. Nice decision not to risk any investments at this time. We’ll sail through this also. Only time and patience is what we need. 🙂

  • Mary Smith

    What an ordeal, Debby. Coming home after a holiday is never much fun but yours really was dreadful. I’d have loved to see you power your way through the crowds! Keep safe and well.

  • Hilary Melton-Butcher

    Hi Debby – thing is ‘ to get the hell out’ so one can get home – and you did it … come hell or high water. I must say – I’m glad you weren’t in Mexico for much longer … that would have made life very difficult. Also good to know you’re back safely at home and managing life in lock-down. take care and all the best – Hilary

  • Kate Johnston

    What a time! I’m glad you were able to have a bit of a vacation and that you were able to get safely home. My family and I went to Puerto Rico the last week of February, so we squeaked our vacation in right before all hell broke loose. I feel terrible for all the people whose vacations were cancelled and all the businesses that are negatively impacted. So surreal. I am taking it in stride, and being an introvert who was already working from home, this “new normal” has not posed much of a change to my lifestyle. But I know for many, this has been a huge blow both financially and emotionally. Watching carefully to see how it all plays out–very interesting.

    Stay safe and take extra good care of yourself and Hub! 🙂

    • dgkaye

      Thanks so much Kate. Yes, it seems we both got back just in time. And I agree, for the writer’s life, isolation isn’t difficult, just the new way of living around it all is added stress. The world is talking back to us now, teaching us many lessons. I hope the world is listening. Please take care, stay safe, and stay masked when going out. I know your neck of the woods is battling the surge. 🙁

  • Liesbet

    Oh, Debby! That sure sounds like an ordeal to push all that luggage – and hubby – throughout the airports and piled up wheelchairs. I haven’t flown in a while and I suspect it won’t happen anytime soon.

    I’m so glad that you managed to have your vacation in Mexico, before all hell broke loose! Yep… who knows what next winter will bring? Or, this summer! I hope you were right about your early spring in Toronto as it surely is still winter (freezing cold and rainy) in Massachusetts right now!

    • dgkaye

      What didn’t kill me made me stronger. I’m lifting park benches now LOL. And about spring – lol we had it here 2 weeks ago. Yesterday there was snow sighted. But no storm and no wind, back to mid 40s here, but really not cold. I suspect with the crazy weather swings we may be wearing short in a week or two LOL 🙂 xo

  • Sherri Matthews

    Oh Deb, as I’ve said a few times before, what a mercy you both got back when you did. At that time, we were already self isolating here and cancelling all our family plans for my hubby’s 60th and then boom, lockdown. Our cruise to Spain at the end of May is now officially cancelled so we are in the throes of getting a refund. We didn’t take the voucher offered as we don’t know what the future holds. We’re being told in the UK not to even think about booking any summer holidays, that travel will be severely limited for a long time to come. I was so looking forward to it, our first holiday in 18 months, and we so needed the break, but hey, better to be safe and well at home. So much uncertain in our world now. Travel seems like it might be only a luxury few will be able to afford for a time, perhaps. I don’t know. Let’s hope not. I have a long list of all those places we still haven’t visited! You know, to this day, I still have not stepped foot on Spanish soil. And it won’t happen this year either. So glad you recovered from your illness, horrible. And so glad you got to go when you did. Little did you know what lay ahead, as with us all. Crazy, crazy times. Lovely photos to remind you of your wonderful holiday in the sun…ahhhh 🙂 <3 <3 <3

    • dgkaye

      I know how disappointed you must be along with so many others Sher. But really, the last place anyone wants to be at this time of the world is trapped on a ship. I hope you get a refund instead of a voucher as who knows what the world will be when all the dust settles. Staying safe is the mission for us all right now til this thing settles down in numbers. I don’t think I’d feel safe traveling anywhere again until there is a vaccine. Let us hope! <3 xxx

  • Sherri Matthews

    Yes, I feel the same way, Deb. Until a vaccine, travel will be a long way off. I meant to say too, but got caught up in my ramble lol, about helpers and angels we meet along the way. I can think of several times when that has happened, people like your Janice just when we really need them. In all the craziness right now it is good to ponder such kindness (I say that as a reminder to self for my next rant lol!) <3 xoxo <3

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