The Lengthy Highway Residence
Ten days after I arrived in Southeast Asia, it was time to journey house, and I can truthfully say I used to be now not as assured as I used to be once I first left the U.S.
The airport was noticeably much less crowded; the lounges, too. I had my temperature scanned at each entrance and all through the airport. Each airplane had myriad vacant seats, which wasn’t the case on my first flights. Though the Bangkok airport was nonetheless busy, Narita appeared practically empty. I walked down lengthy hallways with just some fellow vacationers. The lounges had been practically abandoned. On my journey to Thailand, the Japan Airways lounge in Narita supplied self-service meals; now there have been solely prepackaged objects served by a gloved and masked attendant together with apology notes in regards to the new measures.
On the airplane, I had a whole row to myself in enterprise class. Flight attendants wore masks for all the journey, as that they had on the outbound portion of my journey, they usually made bulletins about additional cleansing efforts.
I held my breath and tried my greatest to keep away from folks whereas anxiously ready for the airplane to take off, afraid that doorways had been going to begin to shut world wide and that we wouldn’t have the ability to land in New York.
Residence At Final
I arrived at John F. Kennedy Worldwide Airport 14 hours later, on March 5, and I walked proper in like there was nothing happening on the earth. There have been no warmth scans, no thermometers, and no questionnaires. Nobody seemed on the stamps in my passport. Nothing. Nada. Only a “welcome again” from the customs agent. All of it appeared, effectively, bizarre.
It seems that I returned at virtually the identical second as Vice reporter Julia Lindau, who had flown from Italy, the place she had been reporting on the virus’s unfold; she alerted the nation on Twitter that she had obtained no screening. Was there really no coronavirus concern within the U.S.? I believed. Had I been apprehensive for no motive?
The New Regular
That was somewhat over per week in the past, when many nonetheless believed that the virus wouldn’t totally infiltrate the U.S. However as I write this, Italy is totally locked down, the president has banned flights to and from Europe, Broadway has gone darkish, Disney parks are closing their doorways, and my son’s faculty is making a plan for distant studying. Rest room paper is nowhere to be discovered, and I’ve fished each small bottle of hand sanitizer out of our junk drawers. I really feel like I’m in the midst of a pandemic film in a approach that I didn’t once I was touring in Asia.
Would I Do It Once more?
It is a query I’ve been getting requested — and one which I’ve been asking myself.
Truthfully, I might. If we’re guided by worry, we’ll by no means depart the home, discover new cultures, meet new folks, or uncover new pursuits, all issues that drive the way in which I stay and work. And seeing how different international locations dealt with the oncoming risk — temperature checks in public locations, asking passengers questions, speaking inside the journey business — helped me perceive how essential exchanging data is, another excuse to journey now and all the time.
I do want I had come house a number of days earlier, earlier than I began to fret about whether or not I might have the ability to return simply. That was an essential lesson in listening to my inside voice.
For now, I’m very completely happy to be house and am settling for armchair journey till the State Division tells me in any other case.
Right here’s to hoping that we are able to all get again on the highway quickly. Till then, preserve protected — and preserve washing your palms.