Monday, November 23, 2020

Journey Home to the Philippines

Monday, November 23, 2020

Early last month when there still were no available flights from Costa Rica to the Philippines I decided to go to Rio de Janeiro and from there catch a flight to Manila. I knew that transiting through Brazil isn’t safe considering the lengthy travel time, the multiple airports I had to go through, and the high number of cases in the country, but I had to take a risk because I wanted to be home before the year ends. From Manuel Antonio where I was based in Costa Rica, I took a three-hour bus to Alajuela where the international airport is located. From Alajuela I flew to Rio de Janeiro through Panama City, a total of 9 hours travel time.  I then spent a week exploring Rio de Janeiro while taking extra care not to contract the virus. 

The journey from Brazil to the Philippines involved 36 hours of travel time and not enough social distancing at the airports and aboard the planes. Social distancing protocols for checking in, boarding, and disembarking were hardly enforced nor followed in the flights from Rio to Sao Paulo to Istanbul to Manila. It was worse than I expected. I made sure to isolate myself as much as I could, constantly wear and regularly change my surgical mask, and obsessively wash my hands; but I knew that despite all of that I could contract the virus because of the lack of social distancing among passengers and other travelers. My being extra vigilant paid off, however. I tested negative when I took the PC-RCT test for COVID-19 upon arrival in Manila. But just to be safe and sure, I even completed the recommended 14-day quarantine before meeting my family.

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