My Hurricane Delta Refugee Experience

Thanks to Hurricane Delta, I slept in a school in Cancun, Mexico last night. After all my years of constant travel, perhaps I was bound to have this kind of experience at some point.

I take covid-19 very seriously, but I was offered a unique opportunity to join my sister at the Secrets Playa Mujeres Resort in Cancun, Mexico. I researched it and learned that they had good procedures in place to encourage social distancing and to keep the risk minimal. The weather forecast before we left simply said there would be a lot of rain. My first day on arrival was spent in my room due to Tropical Storm Gamma, and on my last day, the resort announced it is closing due to the pending Hurricane Delta!

My sister and me on United Airlines first class to Cancun, Mexico

In preparation for the hurricane, the hotel bussed guests to a school (Collegia Alexandria), then workers boarded up the windows and the doors. We were taken as groups into individual classrooms where the hotel provided each person with a lounge chair cushion, a towel, a pillow, a sheet, and toiletries.

There were about 20 rooms with about 20 guests each. Approximately 20 hotel staff members took care of all 400 of us. Secrets is an all-adult hotel, but from its sister property, Dreams, joined us, so there were a few children with us.

As you can imagine, sleeping was a challenge. Everyone has different sleep schedules so there was talking and various other noises, like snoring or people having conversations on their speakerphone, throughout most of the night.

The storm sounded like a demonic monster trying it hardest to get in. We all awoke to glass shattering many times (from the Courtyard’s lighting fixtures) . It went on for several hours. A total of 2-3 hours of sleep was not enough.

Sleeping on a thin cushion was of course better than sleeping on the floor, but it still hurt my bones. Most of all, I was very cold. The hotel staff explained that the power will go off during the night so we need to run the AC to the max while we had the opportunity. However the storm didn’t start and the power didn’t go out until 4 AM. I fell asleep once I warmed up, only to be woken up soon after by the intense wind.

Going to the bathroom was a real challenge as well. The only way to access the bathroom was by walking through an outdoor area, which was not allowed during the brunt of the storm. Additionally there was no running water, so the bathroom quickly became an unpleasant environment. I stopped drinking water early in the day to prevent my nighttime bathroom urges, but that led to dehydration, which led me to have high blood sugar levels all night. I woke up feeling pretty miserable.

Of course it wouldn’t be 2020 without the addition of COVID-19. Wearing masks was encouraged but not required. We were in such close quarters that if anyone had it, it’s likely to spread to many others. I will be keeping myself in quarantine for the next two weeks.

They provided plenty of bottled water and meals. Given my passion for nutritious food, I was curious what the food offerings would be. Lunch was a meat and cheese sandwich with sweet bread. (I declined.) Dinner was a meat and cheese sandwich again, plus fruit. (Thank goodness I brought crackers with me.)

Eggs and beans for breakfast

Breakfast the next day was eggs and beans. (The eggs aren’t plant-based, but they are considered “Whole Foods”, so I made an exception. Also, it wasn’t the most appropriate time to ask how the beans for made, so I just ate them.)

Our final meal was chicken fajitas, which honestly seemed quite slimy and unappetizing. I know it’s difficult to feed the masses. I got by while daydreaming about potatoes. 🥔 😂

We learned that the storm had been downgraded from a cat 4 to a cat 2 before it hit us, so fortunately it was not catastrophic. After the storm, hotel staff said they were taking us back to the hotel around 5pm. Everyone clapped their loudest at that news! 👏

Overall, the communication, attention, and care shown by the hotel staff was more than sufficient. I had high hopes the hotel would have had a more comfortable and private sleeping situation, but of course everyone’s safety was most important. I applaud Secrets resorts for their efforts. Despite concerns for their own family’s safety, the staff stayed with us throughout the lock-in. One of the outstanding hotel managers, Vielka, even stayed with us in our room through the storm.

Most of the school’s trees were uprooted.

Hotel staff stayed positive while working their asses off setting up spaces, serving meals, cleaning, and even filling out the toilets with rainwater. They asked about medical conditions and kept my insulin refrigerated for me. They even provided a doctor on site in case anyone got sick.

Our United Airlines return flight was scheduled to depart during the storm. We changed it to the following day (tomorrow) with no charge. The hotel charged a discounted fee of $119 for the extra night’s stay.

What an adventure. Most of all, I am glad it’s over and that we are all safe.

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