Travelling abroad during Covid.

Flight in the skies

I’m finally back and ready to take the wheel with the blog again. It was a great break, but now it’s time to put in perspective all the new projects I had blocked in my mind because of missing my family.

The last time I went home was December of 2018, and I left with a promise of coming back soon. Or at least having my parents visit me, in case I was not able to take time out to go see them. When Covid started in 2020, we were still hopeful they could come to see us, at some point, until the borders were close, with no intent to open anytime soon.

Mama, I’m coming home.

My mom also had the PCR test done before my arrival.

Not being able to go home last year and hug my parents was a struggle. I was hoping we could switch presidents here in America, so I could travel with peace of mind I would be able to come back to the country without any issue. Brazil is in such a chaotic situation, that if we kept Trump, I might have to stay there, as I’m a resident, and not a citizen of the United States yet.

I promise myself, as soon as the elections were over and he would finally be out of the office, I would buy my tickets to go home. I waited a few days after he left the White House, because of crazy conspiracy theorists, so I could purchase my tickets and that’s exactly what I did. On January 28, I finally purchased my tickets to go home.

All the preparation and anxiety, days without sleeping, waking up in the middle of the night, led me to a state of alert as my eyes were on the news, in case something else changed for the trip.

The PCR Test.

Brasil only lets citizens and Americans in if they have a negative covid test in their hands. My husband and I set up a drive-thru appointment at Walgreens, to do the PCR test before our trip, it costs us about 120 dollars each.

The drive-thru of Walgreens works like the Mcdonalds, but instead of getting food, they give you a swab so you can stick it on your nose. The results come out a little over 24 hours, as the lab works non-stop. I was very nervous because the trip was on Monday, and they told us the results could take up to five business days. We called and the lab told us to be calm, the results would come up fast.

The airport.

Denver doesn’t have direct flights to Brazil, so we bought the domestic leg separated, from United airlines. It’s funny because they are all careful to separate the boarding by rows and yet, you are on a packed plane and being asked if you would like to fly on a different flight.

The flight was crammed with people. The crew served us some snacks on a bag and soft drinks. Besides eating, we were supposed to keep the mask on all the time.

We got in Fort-Lauderlade from Denver to our international flight, to check in our bags and prepare to fly out. At the check-in line, there was an airline worker, making sure we all had a negative covid test in our hands. When we got to the counter, the lady asked for it again and stamped our tickets confirming we were negative.

I asked her if I could put the paper away or if I would have to show it again. She said they would not ask for it in Brasil and explain that it was the airline’s responsibility to check its passengers to make sure everyone was negative before flying. I kept the paper close to my hands anyway.

The flight.

I found out if you seat by the window, the plane will shake less. Booked all the flights with window seats.

As everyone on the plane tested negative, it gave us a little bit more peace of mind for the many hours trapped breathing the same air as other people. The airline crew reinforced that even though everyone was negative, we should keep our masks on, only removing to eat and drink. I’m not gonna lie, it was terrible trying to sleep with the mask on.

Planes are already uncomfortable, I’m an extremely nervous flyer. I’m always on alert even when the entire plane is asleep. I either take some Dramamine or wine. I need something to pass me out and on this trip, my drug of choice was Dramamine. After eating and the cabin lights were turned off, I took my scarf, covered my face, and held the mask in my hand.

The arrival.

When we arrived in the country, it took us a good hour to get out of the plane, as now they are only letting people out, row by row. Let me tell you that people are slow as they can be when it comes to getting out of a plane.

I had my PCR test in my hand, but no one asked me to show it. The Homeland security officer advised my husband that if something happened, like borders closing, he could easily renew his visa stamp for another 3 months. I wish we could stay that long!

The airport in Sao Paulo constantly reminds us over the speakers of the importance of wearing a mask, cleaning our hands, and keeping a distance from others. That’s not what I saw.

Brazil is a huge country and it’s nearly impossible to control the people, as they have a hard time following the rules. Some of them, because they can’t, and some of them because they are stubborn.

People need to work and they don’t have any government subside money to live off. I’ve seen buses crowded with people, with no AC, in 90F degree weather, and that’s Corona paradise. When we left the country was going on lockdown again.

Josh loves Brazil and always has a great time visiting. He loves the food, the people, and how cheap it is for us when we arrive in the country with some dollars. We eat what we want, drink and enjoy the warm weather. My mom is constantly asking why the man is blistering in the heat of the room when he could just be outside with a fan. Whats its torture for us locals, its a blessing to my Indiana guy.

The way back.

Once again, we had to take a PCR test for the trip back. I think it’s fair, as you don’t want to contaminate the airline crew and other passengers, it gives everyone peace of mind. It costs us half of what it costs us in America, expensive for Brazilians, but 1 dollar is worth about 5.70 reais. Let me explain this better. It works like this: If something would cost me 57.00 Reais, I would be paying 10 dollars, plus a small amount of transaction fee.

We had to set up the drive-thru appointment, at the lab stand outside the mall, and wait in line. When it was our turn, the lady was all prepared to perform the test on us, which scared Josh. On this trip to Brazil and another reason why we traveled since the American health system is inexistent.

We went to the doctor and found out Josh has an autoimmune disease, called Nasal polyposis, which is a small benign tumor inside his nose, that can be controlled with antibiotics and medication.

The polyposis obstructs his nose, impeding the PCR Swab to go all the way up. The lady stuck up the swab to my brain, with him, she attempted, but he hurt so bad, she had to stop halfway before he slapped the swab away from her hands. Get the vaccine when it’s available to you, so you don’t have to go thru this invasive procedure.

This time we were requested to show the negative PCR at least three times before boarding our final flight. Once at the Airline check-in point, at the check-in to the international flight in Sao Paulo, and lastly, the Homeland security. Nobody asked us for it inside of the United States.

Traveling with the Covid restrictions was hard, but all worth it.

Seeing my family, spend time with loved ones, and getting josh the treatment he needs was all worth it. We didn’t visit places, didn’t go to any parties, all we did was staying with my family because I still need to protect my parents. After all, they are in the risk group.

I didn’t cry saying goodbye, but I cry my eyes out when the plane took off.

It was hard to say good-bye. It getting harder and harder, as when I go there, I see my parents and I’m not around to be with them. I just have to put on my big girl pants and plan the next trip, hopefully, next January, after the holidays. Since we have to go back to pick up Josh’s medication.

All I have to say is if you want to go home, go home. Life is too short to plan too much, wait for the next opportunity, or to the perfect time to do what you want. Take your chance and jump in, life is a short breath of air. Don’t waste it. Don’t forget to Live out Loud Too!

On the next post, I will write about how going back home re-centers my mind and focus.

J.G.Snelly

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