International travel in a locked down world

Eerie vibes at OR Tambo International airport

In February last year I was battening down the hatches, drawing into the corral of my home and wanting nothing more than to hide from the tidal wave of an unseen enemy approaching. Before the government imprisoned us in our homes I would not allow family to visit if passing through any airport. In my mind, outside of a medical environment, air planes and airports were the most dangerous places to be.

Isn´t life a funny old thing that here I am in February 2021 safely in Canada (in quarantine for 14 days). The decision to visit was made within a week and haste was imperative in order to beat the forced hotel quarantine which comes into effect next Monday 22 February. Articles which I read last week suggested that the cost for the hotel quarantine would be CAD 2000. Domi, Duncan and baby Paige had intended visiting South Africa sometime before mid year, but the hotel quarantine on their return has most likely scuppered that plan. I was driven to jump through umpteen hoops and tackle the most daunting volumes of red tape to meet my first grandchild.

On the day of my departure I spent a lot of time praying that my Covid test results would come though in time. Catch 22 rules dictate that on arrival at Frankfurt airport (my first stop) a negative covid result has to be presented no older than 48 hours from testing. Test results take 24 – 48 hours to process! Prayers were answered an my results were available from Lancet 4 hours before leaving for the airport. I did not get the expected sms but I went back to the testing station and it was ready to be printed for me. Tambo International airport was eerie and chilling. The entire international section is closed off, a pathetically small group of us checked in at a counter in the domestic travel area. After a week of near unbearable stress the desolation at the airport was a gut punch. Oddly there was conflict in my thoughts and emotions. Job losses and the impact on tourism are a mighty and terrible blow. However seeing the material world crippled reminded me how often I have felt that our priorities are so wrong, how while some starve others will think nothing to buy a brand name item for what it would cost to feed a family for a month (or more). Will values possibly be revisited and revised?

It was hard to feel excited about seeing my beloved family, the surreal environments stirred what felt a lot like grief. The losses over the past year have been incalculable and Iḿ afraid for the future.

The tram between terminals at Frankfurt airport
not just a cappuccino, an excuse to remove my mask for a few mins at Frankfurt airport

The silver lining of reduced passengers is that, us intrepid travelers have all the space on planes to stretch out and sleep. Wearing a mask non stop for close to 30 hours was not pleasant but I survived, and it is worth it.

Frozen rivers doodled over the Canadian landscape

Canada are not allowing tourists to visit but family visits are allowed. I had to fill in quarantine plans, download the ArriveCan app and will probably be visited by a quarantine officer but that is OK. In a funny kind of way this is a very peaceful way to visit, there are no distractions. Domi and Duncan had to stock up before I arrived as from the moment that I entered their home they too cannot leave until the end of the 14 days.

My son in law is the best, he stocked up on a few interesting quarantine drinks
From summer in Africa to snow in Ontario
I can not go for a walk in the neighborhood, but I can stand outside and marvel at snowflakes on my sleeve.
The cats love the fireplace

I have to mention that Debbie from Sure Travel 24/7 was an absolute gem, going above and beyond to make sure that all the Tś were crossed to get me here.

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  1. Wow ~ OR Tambo, just wow, how eerie. I have seen airport’s on TV and they looked quiet, but your photos are powerful.
    Wow ~ the snow is beautiful
    Reading your post, I was just wow wow wow.
    Happy you arrived safely and with no hiccups. The stress must have been off the charts.
    Enjoy, your time with your children and baby granddaughter.

  2. I’m glad you made it. Weird to see the airport like that.

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