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International Travel through CO-VID19: Jamaica to Canada

Updated: Apr 13, 2020

Today I left Kingston on my journey to Canada, my home away from home. This decision was a hard one, but I wanted to be close to family at this very difficult time. I arrived at the airport with extreme anxiety, fearing the prospect of sitting for 4 hours in an enclosed space with people whose Corona status I did not know and in a plane without 100% fresh air systems (to be checked).

The airport looked and felt very normal. As my nephew pulled up to drop me off I noted that the baggage handlers were moving about as normal, working hard to earn their keep. Passengers on the outside all seemed upbeat and in good spirits. In the airport hall I saw a few people, less than 5, with masks on their faces. These masks all look more like dust masks, providing little protection to the individuals wearing them.

At the check in counter, the customer service officer was very professional. The agents only wore gloves as protective gear. Of course, you know, I had to run a few Corona jokes. No, I can't share! I was allowed to check my carry-on bag for free. I was provided an aisle seat as I requested. My bags were overweight, with too much Lasco milk, rubbing alcohol, antiseptic fluids, ginger and garlic that were demanded by family. I was gracefully allowed to do some re-balancing of my bags. My only disappointment was that my home made antiseptic mixture with over 60% alcohol, as stipulated by the expert, was not made available to me. Cho!, I went Downtown Kingston to buy these scarce inputs, but my protective disinfectant was placed in the baggage compartment of the plane.

After leaving the counter I went to the bathroom to wash my hands, after which I entered the security check point. Everything again looked normal, the workers did not look overly dressed in protective gears. The 3 policemen sitting to the side looked like the evening was a quiet one and lyming was the order of the day. As usually I stripped down belt, shoes, unpack computer and removed everything from my pockets. The assessment process was uneventful.

I climbed the escalator and went straight to the liquor store. I thought it wise to purchase 3 bottles of white rum to support my stay in the cold. After leaving the liquor store I went to the bar in the waiting area. I don't know if it is the country man in me, but I ordered a double shot of white rum. I quickly poured some in my hand and washed my hands; the real virus killer from St. Bess. Then I drank the rest on the rocks to warm up my body and strengthen me for the journey. I was upbeat and smiley most of the trip courtesy of Mr. Wray and his nephew.

Close to boarding, I proceeded to the bathroom and wash my hands again. I must confess that washing and drying my hands without touching anything was very difficult. This time I used the urinal; maneuvering oneself to shoot with accuracy without touching anything required artistic maneuvering. I went down the escalator and walk to the departure area to gate 8. One lady who was standing next to me finally, blurted out "lord mi hot and the air feel tight, Sir gi mi pass". I allowed her to walk out beyond the line and she continued to chat to herself. "Mi nah catch noh carona, dem tek mi fi idiot". I smiled. My biggest laugh came when the announcer indicated last call for passengers for flight #1803. About 30 of us were standing in a line we thought, we all just came and stop behind some people who were just chatting. Anyway, di plane never left wi.

On the plane, I did buck up inna a few people with more masks and gloves. All the flight attendants were dress in protective gears - gloves and masks. I have to assume the pilot and her assistants were also fully glad in their protective gear, hiding away in the cockpit. My seat was 33 C, so I got the opportunity to see a couple more passengers who were also fully glad for battle - gloves and masks. I selected my seat and 5 minutes later went to the bathroom to wash my hands again. The flight attendants went through selling food and later provided free drinks and water. I denied myself of all these services. I put on my jacket and skillfully tried not to touch anything. I failed, when the flight attendants handed out immigration forms I borrowed a pen and used the table to filled out the form. Again, I went to the bathroom and washed my hands. I must let you know I did not hear one cough in the 4 hours. I am not saying no one coughed, if they did, it was not audible.

We landed in Canada about 10:40 pm. As I left the plane and walked to the immigration area, it was clear I was now in a temperate country. I thought to myself that some viruses are impacted by the seasons. Leaving Jamaica which is experiencing summer-like conditions and entering Canada that is experiencing winter-like conditions could create some advantages. Don't laugh, the problem virus is suspected to have been born in China in the winter and now seems to be surviving well in both Jamaica and Canada.

In the immigration hall my first world destination was now on full display. All patrons from international flights converge in the same migration hall. Most of the workers were clad in some type of protective equipment; I saw masks and gloves. All workers were dressed in uniform and protective clothing - shoes, hat, pants and shirts. At the immigration desk, I could hardly hear the immigration officer speak. I noted that even though we utilized the kiosks we still had to visit an immigration officer. I had anticipated being met by public health officers, instead we were met by a number of officers handing out a corona information sheet. We were told to self-quarantine for 14 days. I would prefer self-quarantine in a villa on the North coast- that would have been better!

Let me applaud the officials at Norman Manley and Pearson Airports and the staff of Air Canada for making an anxiety filled trip most comfortable.

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