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Published: August 29th 2007
We were well prepared for Hurricane Dean, unlike many other tourists. As soon as we heard the news of the hurricane from Carlos' parents 4 days before it was going to hit we made our plans. We first bought plane tickets on-line flying out of Chetumal to Mexico City. At the time of when we bought the tickets the hurricane was suppose to hit further north, but that changed a couple of days before we arrived in Chetumal. Our tickets were for Monday the 20th at 1:00 p.m. so we gave ourselves 12 hours before the hurricane was suppose to hit...good timing on our part.
We continued our trip in Playa del Carmen and continued on to Tulum as well. As soon as we arrived in Tulum we bought our bus tickets to Chetumal. We had three wonderful days in Tulum before the madness in Tulum started.
Our first night in Tulum we spent some time with a family of five from Canada that was traveling through Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. We were the ones that informed them of the hurricane 3 days before it was going to hit. This was the same with most of the tourists we
encountered. No one had any idea that a hurricane was about to make landfall.
Our last day in Tulum we took a cab from our paradise on the beach to the bus station. On the way to the bus station we encountered many military check points and people boarding up windows, as you can see from the photos. Yet, the locals were telling all of the tourists that everything is going to be fine, "just a little rain and some wind". That was the line of the week.
Upon arrival to the bus station we found ourselves in the middle of chaos. Most tourists were informed that morning of the hurricane due to the hotels, hostels, and resorts closing. We spent the morning very calm because we had out tickets, unlike most everyone else. By 12:00 p.m. there were no more available bus tickets, at least first class. Some were lucky enough to have had the chance to purchase tickets, but to destinations 12 and 15 hours away and the others that didn't have tickets took the chance of trying to get on the second class buses. As the second class buses pulled into the station, they were
full and no one was getting off. At that point, one mother-daughter pair decided to just pay the $2000 pesos (approx. $200) for a cab to Chetumal. There really wasn't another option. Another couple we met, from Germany, just arrived in Tulum for their honeymoon and they found themselves returning to San Cristobal...approximately a 13 hour return trip.
The faces of this small town bus station were those of fear, sadness and confusion. We may have been there for hours waiting for us bus, but we found ourselves very calm. We were much calmer as soon as we got on to our bus and headed for Chetumal.
Upon arrival to Chetumal, we immediately went in search of a hotel. We were lucky enough to get the last room for the night. Upon arrival and after check-in, we translated for an American girl that was staying there and told her that the hotel was closing the next day at 1:00 p.m. as were most other hotels. For what ever reason, this girl thought she could ride it out in one of the hotels in Chetumal. We think we saw her the next day at the airport in Mexico City.
We woke the next morning early to catch the news and at that point we were informed that the hurricane, category 5, was indeed headed directly for Chetumal. I wanted to catch a view of the sea before heading to the airport, but Carlos wanted no part of that. We jumped in a cab and headed to the airport. Upon arrival at the airport things were organized yet crazy as you can see by the photos.
During the many hours we spent at the airport we witnessed the arrivals and departures of the top authority figures, except the President as he was in Canada, and the taping of every single window in the airport. At one point the military offered flights on the military planes to anyone that needed to get to Cancun because at that point Cancun was the safer of the two options and many people had flights out of there.
As we boarded the plane, one side of the sky was bright and sunny while the other was already dark and grey with threantening skies. While the hurricane didn't do as much damage as they had predicted, many of the locals in the smaller
and poorer communities lost everything. From what we witnessed, Mexico did an impressive job in evacuating so we are confident they are going to insure a full recovery to all of those that lost everything. We can only hope the best for them all!!!
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