Mexico 2020 – Episode 10

Crappy landings 

We are still in jungle wear when we finally get on the plane, it’s surreal, and cold. Hostesses in chem suits and masks, why didn’t we bring more clothes in the hand luggage? A fitful spate of restless sleeps ensues until 3 hours later we wake up in Mexico City, freezing and mildly delirious. Oh my god, we left Panama!

We only found out from Paula we needed an outward ticket when we got to the airport, so we booked two tickets to Miami, the cheapest ones we could find. 150 dollars each, leaving in 5 days, though we had no need, desire or intention of going to Miami. We don’t know why and nor does she, but Paula didn’t book a ticket out, it had been an intense and hectic 24/48 hrs to say the least. We should have known, the taxi had shown up at the lab for 4 of us with baggage and was the Mexican equivalent of a Ford Fiesta. As we tried to fathom this human Chinese puzzle, two fairly big Panamanian police officers came strolling along, joining the game to a degree as we tried all manner of formations, but then inevitably stating we couldn’t all travel in that vehicle. The clock was ticking, we had to get in the car! As if by magic, suddenly we were all in, covered in luggage and bidding convivial farewells to our heavily armed friends. 

The next section was even more surreal, as we cruised fiesta-like along the smooth city highways past towering edifices of glass and steel, finally we were on the move! After 4 months, everything was going well. Then blue flashing lights up ahead, a police car by the side of the road, oh no it’s a roadblock, oh no… It’s… Errrrr… Suddenly the dark figures emerged, machine guns pointing at the car from these body armor-clad shadow walkers wearing balaclavas, giants every one of them. There were six to twelve of them, more or less surrounding the car, guns pointed at us, another movie moment where it’s all about to go horribly wrong. My phone was in my hand as I had been filming the bright gleaming high rise blocks going by, but I didn’t press record, dammit! It was such a weird and ominous moment. There had been a robbery, but they realised these were not the clowns they were looking for! 

Well hopefully that’s all out the way then, but oh no, bad things come in threes they say! We should have known, we should have regrouped before bowling on through to immigration. But we were tired, and the whole thing also caught up with us – it happened so fast, actually leaving! 

Mai and I go to separate gates, I don’t know why. Mai called over for our outward flight details, I booked them and she doesn’t remember dates, the immigration peeps got twitchy, and called us into the interview room. Paula was at another desk and got a tug too, into the ice room, sterile and unfriendly, like you’re already a criminal. It all kicks off as Paula has no ticket. A Pablo Escobar-like dude appears, all psycho side parting and serious rash, laying it down to her, it was extremely tense. They carted her off and we two are just kind of left sitting there, for hours and hours. It was freezing, and there was a huge screen playing shopping ads, with all the chairs facing it and two badass female security guards to stop you using your phone, a strange kind of hell. 

They finally interview us, separately. If we had to leave to Miami we had a vague plan, friends in Philly, but all plans were/are vague, so our interviews probably didn’t correspond totally but not by devious design, more by the fact we had/have no plan. Everything is flux, one step at a time, after so many plans changing or being changed by external forces, also going from locked down after 4 months, everything stalled, stopped, limbo to action, exit, movement in 24hrs was disorientating. The cold was getting too much, as was the shopping channel, we were hungry and tired, we huddled together like lost clowns, started pacing to keep warm. The guards wanted us to sit down, but we refused. We had asked for a blanket two hours before, and were told they had none, but when we asked again, yes take the one here, right in front of us all that time. 

Finally the big unfriendly lady returned, you have to leave for Miami in 5 days, she made us sign a photo copy doc without explaining what it was. We were spinning out, exhausted and freezing. We signed it, and she tried to leave without giving us a copy, but we insisted on photographing it. If you don’t leave in five days you will have big problems! (We didn’t!) Thanks so much! ¡Bienvenido a Mexico! Our friend was on the same flight and went through no problem with just an email saying KLM owed him a flight. Nowhere does it say Mexico is closed to visitors, total inconsistency and jobs-worth prejudice, the panicdemic in full effect. Shocking really, after arriving on a so-called humanitarian flight! 

So at last we were spat out on the street, feeling traumatised by the whole experience. Paula was held by the forces of darkness, forced to buy a really expensive flight to Spain the next day. She gave us a bag of coffee and her coconut oil as we said farewell at the bag X-ray. It’s all too much! But hey ….. we are in Mexico City! 

Thanks to my old friend Eduardo Kuri, who I spent a few weeks up a mountain with in Majorca 7 years before, we had an apartment to go to. Wow, walls! The first hot shower in 4 months, clean sheets on a big bed, tacos, corona beers with lime (well why not?) It’s surreal, we are not in Panama, it felt like we would never leave, then suddenly we are in Mexico City. Sleep deprived and slightly shaken, the doubt sets in, did we do the right thing? Can we stay? Do we have to go to Miami? Lets go to sleep. 


Now the city rears up its ugly head, 

Nostrils flaring smoke, 

Bright lights burning eyes in the dead of the night, 

Red and white rivers of light, hiding the darkness, 

Masking the shadows, 

Sirens singing, 

Screaming blues, 

Their mourning song from the hard shoulder of the rocky road home, 

And I am not alone, and I am not alone, 

These street blankets and shy trinkets, 

Tired faces cracking smiles, laughing with the clay skulls, neon pink over crusted plaster, 

A faster disaster blaster you have never been after, 

Pulling their strings to make them talk, 

A clown mask and a ten dollar suit, 

Right off the sidewalk. 

Where the old boys hold court, 

Clean shirts and Panama hats, now who doesn’t want a piece of that ?