Travel surprises in a COVID-19 world

Travel is stressful under the best circumstances. But add a global health crisis to the mix and intensity escalates.

Packed and ready for the long journey home.

Even though I couldn’t have been more isolated if I’d stayed in a monastery in Mongolia, the fact that I’d just spent a month in Praiano was like having ITALY tattooed on my forehead. I felt vulnerable.

So I was surprised to find how absent any mention of the caronavirus was in airports and on planes. If a person hadn’t read the news there would be little indication that anything was amiss with the world. No one employed by the airline industry wore a mask. Everyone was exceptionally engaging, smiley, and helpful.

On both flights seatmates offered me sterile wipes and we all dutifully wiped down our tray tables, movie screens, armrests, safety belts, etc. Convinced we’d disinfected our surroundings, we plugged in earphones and tuned each other out.

Usually I’m a serial movie-watcher on long flights. After the sanitizing ritual I selected Ford vs. Ferrari with Matt Damon and Christian Bale. I loved every minute of it, Then fell asleep and didn’t stir for seven hours.

That was a first. I’ve never been able to sleep on a plane. It was my shortest 12-hour flight to date.

The layover in Singapore was just long enough to stretch, check in with WhatsApp and Messenger, take my bags through security and board for the final leg. Nobody mentioned the C-word.

Once in the air, flight attendants distributed a yellow slip of paper from the Indonesian Ministry of Health. Anxiety prickled in my chest, what questions would it ask that I didn’t want to answer? The form was as basic as it could get: name, flight number, passport number… At the end were two boxes with this inscription: Is your present condition sick or healthy, check one.

Efficient. Maybe not terribly effective at detecting illness, but definitely efficient.

Upon landing in Bali, I joined all incoming passengers in line with our yellow forms. Here I assumed my temperature would be taken and they’d ask where I’d come from. As I approached the end I couldn’t see any of that happening. Then it was my turn. A person with a mask exchanged my declaration of ‘healthy’ for another slip of paper, also yellow, with COVID-19 stamped in bold block letters. In small print it said to keep this in my passport and if I got sick to contact the nearest health facility immediately and bring along this card.

That was it.

I proceeded through immigration, no questions asked, handed in my ‘nothing to declare’ form in the customs line, and sailed out into the chewable night air.

I breathed in the moist, incense-laden, warmth of Bali and tension left my body. The long journey was over. Ketut was at the airport to meet me with a bottle of water and his 2000 watt smile.

I’m home.

Thank you all for coming along on my 70th birthday adventure. You’ve been great travel companions and have made my experience even more enjoyable by sharing it with me!

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ReAnn Scott
    Mar 08, 2020 @ 19:58:57

    All this is especially amazing since you were coming from Italy – a hot zone of the virus! Fingers crossed my flight from Gatwick to Dublin on Tuesday goes as smoothly. Glad you are safely back home and that you had a memorable birthday!

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Carol
    Mar 08, 2020 @ 21:16:05

    I’m so happy to know you made it back to Bali safely and without delay. Your posts were so interesting! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person


  3. Anonymous
    Mar 08, 2020 @ 23:32:15

    Welcome home. I’m so happy all went smoothly. I’m packed, ready and hoping for as smooth a re-entry as you have had. 7 hrs of sleep on a plane….a miracle and blessing. I loved your “chewable air”….perfect description. Rest and enjoy your homecoming. sl

    Liked by 1 person


    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Mar 09, 2020 @ 09:28:42

      I hope your journey back is as trouble-free as mine. At least it will be shorter!!! Your last photos and videos of the dancing and drumming in SMA were glorious! Thank you! Those costumes are out of this world.



  4. Linda Glascock
    Mar 09, 2020 @ 00:43:20

    It was wonderful traveling with you in Italy! Thanks for taking me along with you! I’m so glad you made it home with no delays! That’s the news media for ya!

    Liked by 1 person


  5. Diane Struble
    Mar 09, 2020 @ 14:26:13

    It was a lovely trip to Italy. I am so happy that your return was uneventful. Definitely a plus that passengers are carrying wipes to clean their areas. I hope that the airlines will supply them on every plane now as we know there is no time to wipe clean between flights. Might really help…..or not. Worth a try. Welcome home.

    Liked by 1 person


    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Mar 09, 2020 @ 16:51:04

      It would be a great idea for the airlines to supply wipes and make that part of their safety precautions for every passenger.

      It was a lovely trip, and it’s lovely to be home. Soft rain is falling and the air has sweet-earth scent.



  6. FuzzYdicE
    Mar 14, 2020 @ 07:43:09

    Good to hear from you, good information.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person


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