LIFE GOES ON…so let’s get started
Iain has recently returned from a three-week visit to the United States. It might be interesting for some of you to read his views on what it’s like to travel internationally at this time, and the possible hurdles one might expect. He writes…
“During these past six months I’ve accepted the fact that I have a travel addiction. Whenever I look up at the sound of a passing airplane I instinctively want to be on it. I don’t really care where it’s going. As for most people 2020 has been a gruelling experience for me. At 72 I realize that I fall into the “iffy” category of those exposed to the virus, and I’ve spent countless hours upping my personal fitness programme because of this, reasoning that if I’m going to die then I’ll do it in the best shape possible! Early on basic intelligence demanded that I shunned the unrelenting barrage of the shameless 24 hour news channels, who unanimously dwell on the sensational aspects of the pandemic – and still do – brainwashing the vulnerable into thinking getting Covid is an automatic death sentence. By the time August arrived I was truly convinced that hiding under the bed waiting for some miracle vaccine isn’t the way to go. I figure that at my age I have at best 10 more active years, I’ve just lost one in 2020, I’m damned if I’m going to lose another in 2021.
By the time August came around I booked a return flight to New York on Qatar Airways. This past decade I’ve flown
internationally only on Middle Eastern airlines. In my opinion Qatar and Emirates’ leave European and American airlines in the shade.
Apart from the desire to move, I wanted to familiarise myself with the complexities one might meet today whilst flying internationally. I’m aware that some readers will think my attitude cavalier, but I firmly believe in my personal criteria for dealing with this pandemic, which are:
* Wear a face mask when in public places.
* Wash your hands at least 20 times a day.
* Be aware of the need to distance whenever possible
from other people in public places.
* Knuckle down and get yourself in the best physical
shape you’ve ever been in.
One thing we’ve learned from this pandemic is that the air inside aircraft is much cleaner than we ever thought it was. The fact that reputable airlines have increased the cleanliness factor makes it even healthier. I was incredibly impressed by the effort Qatar have gone to sterilize their planes. It was necessary to wear masks throughout the flight. (in business class where you have your own walled cubicle this can be removed after takeoff). Obviously masks can be taken off whilst eating and drinking, and I recommend that you eat slowly and drink more in order to ensure mask relief. And, I’m not talking about water! It’s possible to drag out a glass of wine for hours. We were handed a face visor for entering and disembarking (deplaning) the aircraft. Upon arrival at New York’s JFK airport the passage through immigration and customs was effortless.
I spent a few days in New York then moved on to Boston before flying to Colorado. With friends I did some wonderful hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. I then spent time in Wyoming, and after three weeks flew back via Denver to New York. At this point comes the main hurdle, which has to be navigated carefully. In order to board the Qatar flight back to Doha (and onwards to Nairobi), it is necessary to get a Covid test within 96 hours of flying. Qatar Airways says this is to comply with Kenya requirements. The problem is that at present in the United States the majority of hospitals and health clinics will tell you that they can’t guarantee a test result within 5 – 10 days. In New York I was tested (it’s really no big deal) in the Mount Sinai hospital in Brooklyn, and I received the result in 15 hours. I believe that if one checks out several hospitals close to big international airports across the United States, you will find one that can deliver a fast result. You should note too that this requirement may well be lifted during
the next six months.
The return flight was again effortless, and the arrival process in Kenya was very smooth. A form must be filled out with your background information, and proof that you have had a Covid negative result within the previous four days. There is no quarantining.
I sometimes feel that where Covid is concerned we have become like the scorpion stinging itself to death with its own
tail. I believe too that when history looks back on 2020 it will prove to have not been our Finest Hour. We know the rules and if followed logically, and with care, we can move forward with our lives. We can be adventurous again.
The Great Walk of Africa is a safari in a Covid-free bubble. Out in the wilderness, you couldn’t be further away from
humanity. Next year awaits us…let’s get going!
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