It’s my sad duty to report that we have succumbed to the inevitable pressures of the coronavirus crisis and have decided to pull the pin on our 2020 adventure.
We have a Qantas flight booked out of LAX on Friday and will be arriving in Brisbane on Sunday morning to commence our mandatory 14-day
sentence quarantine period.
It has been a tough decision to make. We have absolutely loved our time in Mexico and Central America and the thought of coming home early is very upsetting to us both. Still, there are plenty of people much worse off, and we are grateful for the opportunity we’ve had to travel these amazing regions over the past 15 months.
We had been hoping to sit tight in Playa del Carmen and resume our travels once the worst of the pandemic had passed. Unfortunately the global situation has continued to deteriorate and it seems very unlikely that travel to the areas we had planned – Cuba, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico – will be possible in the medium term.
Those countries are all in full lock-down mode and it is likely that if they do open up again for regional travel in 2020, there will be quarantine requirements on entry, which would no doubt be impractical (and potentially unpleasant).
The spread of the virus in Mexico has been comparatively slow and we had been hoping the country had somehow ‘dodged the bullet’. Recent numbers show the country is now on a similar curve to many of the other badly hit countries, and given the underfunded local medical infrastructure Mexico is likely to be hit hard once the numbers start growing exponentially. Many medical professionals have already contracted the virus due to complete absence of PPE.
Our state, Quintana Roo, also had very low numbers for quite a while, and had implemented some lock down measures early in the process, but the numbers here have started to track up this week. Testing levels across the country are a concern.
The central government here has also been slow in adopting mitigation measures, which hasn’t helped the situation.
From an insurance perspective, our travel insurance policy has a global exclusion for any costs related to pandemics. This is not only for medical expenses, but cancellation of flights and accommodation, emergency repatriation etc. We continue to be covered for non-Coronavirus medical expenses if required – but will the local hospitals have capacity to treat us if they are dealing with a Coronavirus catastrophe? The USA was always a fallback medical position but there is similar concerns with their healthcare system at the moment.
Our travel insurer is also not currently offering new policies, so potentially we would be out of coverage if we’re still overseas past January, 2021.
Our visa in Mexico is only for 6 months, and expires in July. The Australian Ambassador in Mexico advised me that it was unlikely Mexico would waive this requirement given there is currently the opportunity for Australians (and NZers) to leave now via commercial means. Potentially we would need to leave Mexico in July and have nowhere to go to.
I must say, the Australian Embassy in Mexico has been very proactive in communicating with Australian citizens still in the region, and in arranging flights home for those stuck without flight options in places like Peru and Panama. The Qantas flight we’re on is subsidised by the Australian government and is substantially cheaper than the few remaining commercial options available. Well done, guys!
Thanks to everyone who has already reached out with offers of help when we get back to Australia. We’re not sure what our plans are when we get out of
jail quarantine in Brisbane, but will keep everyone posted.
Also a shout out to our Airbnb host, Roberto. We’d paid up for all of April and (unprompted) he gave us a voucher for half of the monthly rental which we can use when we come back. Very nice gesture seeing as his business of 5 apartments is completely empty apart from us over what is normally his busiest period.
Take care everyone.