Exiting to a Lounge of Masks

People waiting at an airport lounge wearing face masks

With any long haul flight, the destination will always trump the discomfort, cramped conditions, and bureaucracy you have to put up with to get there.

My latest flight was just before the coronavirus thing started to catch the full attention of governments.

My journal went something like this.

Brisbane to Sydney, depart Brissie at 9.10am, land in Sydney 11:40 am. All good, get myself over to the international terminal in time to depart Sydney for Santiago (Chile),at 12 :40pm.

A few people at Sydney airport wearing masks, but nothing too scary.

At 2:00pm we start boarding. Qantas had a problem today. Nothing to do with coronavirus.

I like Qantas for long haul flights. Others may disagree, but I have always had a good experience with Qantas. They apologised for the delay and promised to make up some time, and they did ! arriving about 20 minutes behind schedule.

Chile. Before entry into the customs area, there is a table with about 4 or 5 medicos checking people who are entering Chile, (looking serious I thought, is it really this bad? ). Along with quite a few others, I was on a connecting flight so they were not really interested in us.

I purchased a bottle of water and start the 25 minute walk over to Terminal C. At this point I am counting my flying hours (4hrs. left), finally arriving at terminal C. Not too many here for the flight to Bogota, although there is still about 2 hours to go before take off. Including layovers. I will have about 31 hrs of travel time.

In fact the whole airport was quiet compared to other times I have been here. A cup of Juan Valdez coffee to feel human again, and something to keep my eyes from closing while waiting for the boarding call.
Boarding was quick we are taking off with a half filled plane.

Finally Bogota.. Exiting into the customs area, and yep, table and 4 or 5 medicos. Get my temp taken and join the queue for entry.

Before I left Australia I had received an electronic document to fill out for the Colombian Immigration Dept., detailing any previous travel to Coronavirus infected countries.

I had no previous entry to coronavirus infected countries, but filled it out, sent it off and saved the details on my phone for when I entered Colombia.

We moved through customs fairly quickly, go collect the baggage, another bag screen, through the agricultural declaration, and out, no more flights!.

As luck would have it, it is pissing down rain, quite cool and the usual chaos reigns with taxis, urger’s, and trolleys.

Colombia, like many South American countries, is ruled by a wealthy elite, who love to make a big deal with social issues like LBGT, but can’t provide clean / safe drinking water to residents homes, and do little to improve the lot of people in shanty dwellings, surviving in the “ informal economy”

The next day, after breakfast and a little sightseeing, back to the airport for the 1.5 hr flight to Barranquilla.

Coronavirus fear seemed more prevalent at Bogota airport today, masks everywhere, even a media crew inside the airport. Today was the last day Colombia was accepting flights from Europe and the USA.

Waiting in the departure lounge for our flight, the woman sitting across from us was not looking to well, her mask hanging loosely around her jaw. Still feeling a bit jet lagged from all the flights, I get up and go for little walks just to keep the blood circulating.

Sitting back down I felt the sudden urge to sneeze, arm up and muffled the sneeze with my elbow, the eyes of the woman opposite opened to about saucer size. She is looking even more distressed.

Barranquilla, and the medicos were waiting near the entry to the baggage carousels, handing out updated flyers and taking temperatures. I saw no sign of the distressed looking woman who was sitting opposite me at Bogota.

Barranquilla Airport was undergoing a large redevelopment when I left here last. Inside was looking good, and on exiting I saw they had built some organisation into the taxi ranks.

In the couple of days I had flying from one side of the world to the other, I was pretty oblivious to what was going on with the virus. Settling in to our unit at Barranquilla, I got on to the news sites to check for the latest in Australia and Colombia.

Australian Prime Minister wants us all to come home. Anyone arriving in Colombia from today (16th. March), has to self Isolate for 14 days. Ok, I arrived on the 15th, And, no way I am going to back up and do another 25 + hour flight. In some cases it could be 60 hours.

So rather than be a smart arse, I will stay at my Colombian home for a fortnight. The shops here have shelves full of products, unlike Australian stores.

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Michael Dubhthaigh

Michael Dubhthaigh

Thanks for stopping by. I write straight off the top of my head and sometimes forget to edit. More about me here. https://bit.ly/3I8it7D