"They cancelled the NBA," Brad said, glancing up from his phone as we stood beneath a digital sign reading "Cancun," awaiting our boarding group. Brad had been warning me ominously about the inevitable cancellation of my upcoming race for over three weeks now, and yet each time I checked, the Ironman website still showed all races proceeding as planned. The pandemic had already seeped into nearly every country across the globe by now, but Mexico was thus far untouched. Maybe Mexico was actually the best place to be headed?
This was a trip I had been planning for a year now, our first international travel in almost a decade, and I had spent the last nine months diligently consuming podcasts, books and online courses in Spanish, determined to be a fluent speaker by the time we arrived. The Ironman 70.3 Campeche race was an excuse to explore a new country and immerse ourselves in a different culture, and I was eager for the opportunity to learn, and to experience a new place.
But that excitement had given way to unease. Doubts clung to us as we boarded the plane. Bundled appropriately for the Denver chill, we endured the entire flight with faces covered and gloves on, too nervous to eat or drink, tensing each time we heard a passenger cough or sneeze.
Once in the customs line in Cancun, the 85 degree heat forced us to shed our extra layers of protection. It was clear we were the only people there with contagion on our minds. People crowded close together in long lines while impatient children darted back and forth, anxious to start their tropical vacations.
We were relieved that the second leg of our trip was in the safety and privacy of a rental car, a six hour drive across the Yucatan Peninsula, bringing us to our destination on the Gulf of Mexico, just before midnight.