International Adventures In Pandemic Times
It was not an easy decision to take this trip in the current world, but everything in my life screamed I should go. What would normally be a direct flight Sao Paulo – Los Angeles became a long four flights and fifteen days layover in Mexico City – currently the only place in the world taking in Brazilians. At first, I would fly to Lima, Peru, and then Mexico City, but 3 days before leaving my flight was canceled. There were no more flights going into Peru. I called and there was the option to fly to Argentina first, but that did not go very well either, Argentina closed the borders. All direct flights to CDMX were fully booked. I managed to get a flight the day before I was supposed to go to Santiago, Chile. From there I would go to Lima where I would catch my original flight to Mexico. That meant I would be 36 hours in transit for what could be a 6-hour direct flight. It was fine by me, as long as I left São Paulo. I felt like a fugitive, fleeing a war zone, which is what Brazil feels like right now with the current mismanagement of the pandemic.
I was afraid my flight would get canceled again, afraid Mexico would forbid my entrance, afraid all that I planned would come down to nothing. I made sure to travel safely. On the day of my flight, I arrived at the airport at 5:30 in the morning, 3 hours in advance, and went into the check-in. Turns out I would need a face shield in Peru. I had one at home staring at me as I left out the door, but I did not grab it. It was before 6 a.m. in the midst of pandemic-related restrictions, there was nowhere open, and face shields were not in stock anywhere. Lucky me, a friend took me to the airport, so we had a car. I never thought so quickly and coldly in my life: I got in the car and drove the 20 miles in heavy morning traffic back to my place and back to the airport in 1 hour. Nascar drivers had nothing on me – god bless the number of tickets I will get. I made it to check-in with 20 minutes to spare.
But then the lady asked me for my return ticket. Well, lady, I do not have one. Well, you must have one – which was not the truth, but I could not think straight, so I ran to the store, bought a returnable ticket at an absurd price, and ran back to check-in. Finally went through customs and to my gate, which was the very last one across the whole airport. I was sweating, nervous, and needed to go to the bathroom for the past 3 hours. When I sat down at the airplane, I took a breath for the first time in 2 weeks.
It was infinite hours in planes and airports, sleeping in chairs with mask and face shield on. Airports are sad right now, with only a couple of flights at the flight board the whole day, closed shops, no people. But the important thing: I was out of Brazil.
I got to Mexico City and it was like arriving in another life. The levels of anxiety I was feeling back home were overwhelming, my only thought was to make it out of the country and the left-over energy I used to work out a bit. Now I am out, I am doing this incredible thing. It is actually going to happen! Well… now I have some serious planning to do and I have not really worked out since I stepped into Mexico. With a couple of weeks to go, I am reaching a whole new layer of freaking out.
I have decided I am going to resupply in town, I do not have the personality type to plan meals and towns and miles with months in advance, but I have to at least plan the first couple of weeks. My gear is almost ready, and I will have a couple of days in the US to sort out anything that is left. I cannot wait to hit the trail, but also, I am enjoying this breath of fresh energy I am experimenting at this trip. I wouldn’t have come to Mexico City if it weren’t for the US border restrictions for people coming from Brazil, and I am glad to be here, it is a beautiful city.
Next week I will be in San Francisco and the official countdown begins. I have some loose thoughts I want to share before trail, but for now, I will leave it here.
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