Escaping Wilma

People who saw Adele and me on TV over the last few days have been writing to ask if we're OK – they saw us lined up at the Cancun airport trying to “escape hurricane Wilma.”

Thanks to everyone who has expressed their concern. We are fine!

It's funny how TV works. The image and interview became part of the Wilma system. They were replayed day after day as Wilma stalled and mercilessly bashed the Yucatan.

The truth is, I had registered for Cancun weather notifications prior to starting my vacation. Monday morning, I received this email:

The tropical depression # 24 was upgraded this morning to Tropical Storm Wilma and it was located this morning at 502 miles east southeast of Cancun, Mexico. Interests in Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Cozumel, Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras, Akumal, Tulum and the Costa Maya area must monitor the development of Wilma over the next few days.

To see the most complete information about the storm please go to:

The tropical storm names for this hurricane season has been depleted, this happened only in 1933 and Wilma ties that record.

I checked the site periodically. Tuesday evening the storm suddenly developed into a category 5 hurricane coming straight towards us.

As I told the TV crew, “I've been in a hurricane before, and don't want to be in another one.” Visions of holding out in an emergency shelter with no air conditioning spurred me to lay down my Margarita and get to my feet.

Again using the Internet, I bought tickets on a flight the next morning to Puerto Vallarta. That's another beautiful Mexican town, far from Cancun on the Pacific side of Mexico, where the sun was still shining and the dolphins still playing.

Only thirty-six hours before the eye of the storm hit Cancun, we drove to the airport on an empty road. Many of the local Mexicans, veterans of endless minor hurricanes, were skeptical that this one would hit them head on. Our ticket agent told us we were crazy to leave – he said we should go back to our hotel, where “recreation directors would be throwing hurricane parties in the ballrooms.” Tourists weren't aware of what was coming either. When I was interviewed by the TV crew, the only reason I was in a lineup at all was because I had accidentally joined a group of French tourists who were clogging the checkin lane waiting for their tour guide to arrive. The airport was no busier than it normally is.

Whatever the explanation, it all made for a good visual. And apparently got replayed many times.

The images coming back from Cancun and the Riviera now are more than frightening. The devastation is terrible. My heart goes out to the local people, who I have always found to be endlessly friendly and helpful. They know a lot about how to handle hurricanes, and I'm sure they'll recover as quickly as anyone could.

As for me, I count myself super lucky to have had access to information and mobility. It's another example of how much is changed by the Internet.

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Kim Cameron

Work on identity.