Written by Evi Idoghor
As someone who enjoys watching investigation discovery (ID) channel, I felt my heart’s gradual descent to my stomach, when this strange man, dressed in white, motioned with his right hand, saying, “come in here for breakfast,” and began closing the wooden sliding door which separated the bedroom from the sitting area. “This is it! This is the test of faith that someone said I was going to face on my trip to Mexico! Ah! Who sent me?”
I hadn't stepped foot on foreign soil since I was kicked out of the United States five years ago. The first few years in Nigeria were fantastic. I wasn't fantasizing about traveling because I needed to adjust to my new normal. So, when 2020 arrived and I was about to depart for Montego Bay, my excitement was palpable!
However, we all know how 2020 went down - social distancing, mask up, essential trips only- my trip was canceled. Two years later, I was once again excited about a possible trip to Mexico and began looking for tickets. This was a chore in and of itself, due to the peculiarity of my situation, as most flights from the UK and Nigeria to Mexico transited through the US, where I was not permitted to plant my tentacles.
How I go take do this one again now? I prayed and searched, searched, and prayed, until I discovered a British Airways flight that flew directly from Gatwick (London) to Cancun. I immediately called a friend and threatened her that if she wanted to see me in Mexico, she had to buy my plane ticket, which she did - I have the best friends! I then bought a plane ticket to London, leaving 10 days before my trip to Mexico.
The excitement grew as the day to travel outside the country approached. Before my plane began cruising at an altitude through the clouds, I was already on cloud nine. “Phew! After all these years, I finally get to see what the abroad looks like!” I told myself. Six hours flew by, and I grumbled my way through the three-hour border control line.
As I inched closer and closer to the booth, my heart increased its rate. What if they ask me to go back? God I am not ready to relive the trauma I endured in Atlanta. Just then I was signaled to make my way to a free booth. I quickly grabbed my purse, which I had set down at each point to rest my hands from the weight of it and scurried to the immigration officer. I then handed him my passport, and after the usual “what are you here for?” The passport got stamped, and I was free as the seagulls to enjoy my time in Bristol.
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Whilst I was busy holidaying, I received a message from a family member which read “God said while you are away partying in Mexico, you will experience something that will test your faith. But be of good cheer, He has overcome the world.” I saw this message in the middle of the night, and immediately the heaviness that had been weighing defiantly on my eyelids became feeble – which kind wahala be this? What kind of prophecy is this one?
I then asked the sender why he chose to send me such a message in the middle of the night; didn't he think I'd be concerned? “You fear too much,” he said, laughing. My vacation was ruined from that point forward. I started imagining every possible scenario that could cause me pain. Was something horrific going to happen to someone dear to me, while I was away partying? Was I going to be kidnapped, raped, or trafficked?
To be honest, Mexico has had a strange reputation for years, thanks to mainstream media, and I swore I would never visit that country. So, it was no surprise that of the 11 years I lived in the United States, I visited Mexico, zero times. But over the years, I had seen my friends flock in and out of the nation, and thought, it must not be as bad as the media makes it out to be.
Nevertheless, receiving this gloomy message in the middle of the night, in Bristol, where I already had a hard time sleeping - the sun went down at 10pm, and reared its head at about 4:30am, as though it needed to beat Lagos traffic, caused my mind to wander in a variety of unpleasant places.
As the day to travel drew nearer, unlike when I was about to leave Lagos, I remained measured, harboring this burden within me – of course not without prayer. I prayed and asked some others to join me in prayer to abort whatever doom awaited me in the Spanish speaking country. I googled – how safe is Mexico? And was hit with a barrage of articles. One stating how a few months prior, two tourists were murdered in the resort I was going to be staying in.
Ah! Who send me message oh! Then I messaged a friend, who had previously traveled to our location, and she calmed me down, saying all was going to be well, and I should bring enough money for tips, “because they expect you to tip them every time,” she said.
On May 20th, I was at London Gatwick airport, waiting in line for the final security check before boarding the flight. After inspecting my British visa, they asked me to step aside. At this point, I reasoned, “If you won't let me on this flight, that's fine with me; I'll go back and enjoy the rest of my time in the UK.” Who wants to be confronted with bad news while in Mexico? The prophecy was about Mexico, right? And neither London nor Nigeria. At this point, I was ready to go home if that was all it took to keep myself and my loved ones safe. But how would I break the news to my friends? They would mock me, saying, “You fear too much.”
I was allowed to board British Airways. I slept for the first few hours of the flight and worked for the remaining seven. I needed to clear my mind of all worry. When I first arrived in Cancun, I was on high alert because I had been told that “these people are as aggressive as Nigerians oh, don't pay them any mind, just look out for the hotel staff, who will be there with a bus to pick you up.”
As such, after I passed through border control, I looked out for the hotel staff, but there was no one in sight. I walked around the airport, searching frantically for them, ignoring everyone who asked, “Señorita, do you need help?” until heat and exhaustion got the better part of me, and I succumbed to a man, who led me to where my hotel staff was - I heaved a sigh of relief.
As we approached the property, my eyes widened like a child in candy land; it was situated on this vast expanse of land with a lot of greenery planted on it. It took you at least 20 minutes to walk to one end of the resort. Waterfalls hidden in unusual locations were breathtaking. Bamboo bridges connected various sections of the resort. People were kayaking around the property, and those who wanted to sunbathe by the pool outside their rooms had no trouble doing so. We were greeted by the hotel staff with a small gift bag containing a mask and hand sanitizer.
She also gave us warm towels to cleanse our hands of any germs we had picked up along the way. We were then led to our rooms. My room had a view of a man-made river and forest. Its balcony featured a concrete bathtub and a swing for relaxation. The bed was plush, with pillows and a soft duvet on top. I couldn't wait to shower and get into bed; it was exactly what I needed after all these years.
Want something fun to read in the meantime? Checkout my Puerto Rican travel experience…
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