International Travel in Covid Times

Mexico: Part 3

My husband Ryan and I continue our adventures travelling internationally, for the first time in two years, with flight delays and cancellations, while also trying to keep up-to-date with all of the Covid protocols. It was certainly an adventure, and in this part we continue our trip!

Day 7 Last activities in Mexico

Our last day in Mexico was certainly a bittersweet experience. Our flight had been changed three times during the week, by Air Canada, so we just were hoping we’d make it home, eventually. 

We opted for two amazing activities for our final day in Mexico. First, we had to go back to Canopy Tours in the mountainous jungle. We had so much fun ziplining, the day before, so we signed up to do their river expedition.

After arriving at the location, we donned our climbing gear, with harnesses and helmets, and went off on an adventure.

The start was ziplining, and then abseiling (a.k.a. rappelling), where you lower yourself down from a great height. We were with an older couple from the USA, who were struggling with the more-physically-demanding aspects of walking from zipline to zipline, and struggling with the heights. It gave Ryan some much-needed confidence to see someone else struggling.

We continued on through the jungle, hearing macaws screeching, and enjoyed the various rickety wood bridges, ziplines and abseil adventures.

We got to our last zipline, which was to end hurtling into the water. We watched the guide go first and make a giant splash. “Hell yeah!” I exclaimed. I was next and ziplined over the rocks and river—until Splash! The cool, fresh water, after a hot morning of activity, was incredible.

Then we all got into inflatable tubes and floated down some small rapids. Not exactly “crazy,” but there was lots of bouncing around, from rock to rock, as we made it down the river. Ryan clung on to his flip-flops as he pinballed down the river.

At the end (our final part of the trip) was a mule ride back to the resort. At first we thought they did this for the tourist aspect because, Who couldn’t walk back on their own? But then, after 20 minutes of a near-vertical ascent, I was very happy the mule had made the journey for me.

After our morning adventure, we were starving and it was noon—tequila time! We enjoyed some local, free tequila tasting and sat by the infinity pool, overlooking the mountains, and ordered the most-ridiculous food platter for lunch. As we rolled back to the transfer truck, we regretted our food intake but remembered we would soon be back in the real world (and on a diet).

Once we got back to town, it was siesta time … so we napped and digested at our hotel.

Our final evening and activity was again with Vallarta Adventures, on its famous Rhythms of the Night sunset cruise, with a dinner and show.

This was a rather incredible start to our activity. Over the past few days, there were only ever 10 to 15 people, and social distancing and masking was common practice. And then there was this … at least one-hundred people crammed into the terminal, wearing masks but certainly not six feet apart. Ryan and I stood afar, baffled at everyone trying to clamber to the front of a non-moving queue.

They boarded the VIPs first and eventually called our group. So we tried to keep our distance as we boarded the two-storey cruise boat. We grabbed drinks and quickly found a spot right at the back of the boat, a good six feet from any other seats on the boat.

We sat there and watched, as people from all over the world sat next to each other—some wearing masks, some not.

The cruise started with music and dancing, as we watched baby humpback whales playing around in the bay. The drinks were unlimited and it was great that they refilled our glasses.

Once we arrived at the island, we watched as everyone rushed and crammed to get off the boat. We sat waiting, as we weren’t in any hurry.

We waited until there was enough room for keeping distance from other guests. I admired the beauty of this remote island that had tiki torches lit and music playing. As we got off the jetty, I spotted several people dressed elusively in animal costumes. I spotted a lizard and a butterfly and was scared by the sudden movement of a tree.

We walked through different sections and were happy to note that each section had its own buffet and service. We got to our area and got a spot right at the water’s edge. The waiter filled our drinks and, for some reason, Ryan got more than me, every time.

But the breakup of each section meant there wasn’t any mad rush or excessive lines, once on the island. The food was good and it was so nice having wine for the first time in a week.

Once dinner was over, it was time to make our way to the show. 

We sat down and enjoyed the amazing Cirque du Soleil-esque performance.

After the show, we made our way back to the boat (we got our same spots) and enjoyed the ride home.

Day 8 Back to Canada

Saturday morning and it was time to head back home to Canada. As we left for Vancouver, Canada, we waved goodbye to Puerto Vallarta and Mexico. We were excited to return home and see our dogs, but also sad to leave the fun week we had.

We went through airport security and waited to board our flight. As we got to our flight, they called our names and we realized, since we didn’t have any checked-in luggage, that they needed to see our negative PCR tests before we could board. The only thing Air Canada had already asked was that we upload our Covid vaccination certificate. So we were glad they checked our tests.

Once in Vancouver, we made our way to the check-in area. What’s great is that Ryan is a citizen and I am a Permanent Resident (PR), so we could use the express check-in. It was quick and easy to enter our information as we moved through. And then, the final security checkpoint guard said, “Uh, well, you are good to go,” and she handed me back my piece of paper and PR card, adding, “You have been randomly selected for an additional Covid testing.” She looked at Ryan as she handed him his paper and passport.

Ryan immediately groaned, annoyed … not that it was a bad thing, it was just an extra step that had to be done and, well, only he was selected.

Ryan was directed to another line and I was told to leave. I sat down, waiting and watching him and some other travellers in the “Covid line.” Eventually, he came out and said, “I have to do a take-home test.”

Ryan used his tablet to call the Covid-19 test company (someone walks you through all of the steps and watches as you swab your mouth and nose and then seal the test in a secure envelope). We then needed to drop off the test at Shoppers Drug Mart, and that was it. Pretty simple!

On Wednesday, he received his negative test result. It was a drastic change from the 90-minute test results in Mexico, to the three-day results in Canada!

International travel isn’t the easiest these days. I relate it similarly to travelling prior to the events of September 11, 2001. Prior to that date, no one cared if you had a bottle of wine in your bag, or if you were carrying a metal nail file. Then, suddenly, international air travel changed forever. I remember that first year, afterwards, with new restrictions causing utter chaos, with requirements to remove your shoes, dispose of liquids, and leave behind “metal anything” or anything that was sharp … The list seemed endless.

Now, 21 years later, it’s normal

It’s normal to pull out your liquids in a bag, go through security, not take certain things on a flight. Covid-19 and other future health implications will soon be common (“normal”) too—show your vaccination card, wear a mask, get a Covid test and so forth. Everyone is trying their hardest to keep up-to-date with these changes. All I can say is, just be prepared for delays and remember that we are all trying to figure out this new “Covid World.”

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