It’s a race to find a flight out of Europe amidst this coronavirus travel ban. Just when I think I’m close to the finish line and doing well, something else comes to trip me up.
Onboard the first train back to the hostel where I can concentrate and research flights out of Europe, I practice the art of not stressing over something you cannot control. I think I inherited that countenance from my dad, the military man. I was on a train to research, come to a decision and take action. That’s the responsible thing to do with this new info and that’s all I could do.
At the hostel, I begin the search on my laptop in one of the common areas, which are vigorously being cleaned and sprayed by gloved volunteers and cleaning staff.
Bad news. All Sunday flights are booked.
And all Monday flights are also full. Those opportunities are closed to me.
Other flights surrounding the dates of my cancelled Port>>Gatwick and Gatwick>>Miami are also cancelled, so it’s not like I could bump my flight a couple of days earlier or later.
Checking availability for Tuesday the reasonably-priced flights for 450 Euros are 19 hours long with a layover in Spain, which is one of the countries that has more coronavirus cases and could pose problems for me when attempting to enter other countries. To complicate this ticket more, it has yet another layover in another country. This is nixed, it isn’t a viable option.
The next price category for Tuesday flights start at an absurdly expensive 1250 Euros.
This isn’t looking good.
Wednesday, there’s a one-way direct flight from Lisbon to Miami for a slightly elevated, but reasonable 420 Euros. I doubt for about 15 minutes, looking into other options, other pages. This may just be a bit too far into the future, in light of how quickly things are changing.
It’s a risk, but my logic and instincts are coming to a solid agreement.
My decision: buy the flight. It’s the best option price-wise, it’s not too far into the future, it’s direct from Lisbon with few risks of being cancelled or leaving me in limbo in a third country.
And I’ve come to grips with what my plan B would be, because I’m not about to go through this rigamarole every time the Trump administration changes something and flights are cancelled. Which seems like every other day.
In the event this Lisbon>>Miami flight is cancelled, I will work all of the airline channels to confirm another flight in the near future, but hunker down and do some online freelance, remote work until the day I’m actually on a plane going back home.
Fingers crossed that nothing goes wrong with the purchasing process, since everyone is also be online trying to buy tickets.
… and it’s done. The website tells me my flight is confirmed for the Wednesday flight #922 at 10:30am from Lisbon>>Miami.
So, what’s there left to do except hold my breath for two days?
Later in the evening Fernanda tells me that she also left Cascais early because Air France messaged her that she must return to Brazil within two days. This just heightens the sense of urgency for me and confirms that I did the right thing by buying the ticket.
She returned to her hostel to make arrangements on stable internet and on a table rather than surrounded by distracting, mysterious ocean, striking, rocky landscapes and quaint, stone plazas that tug at your heart. Cascais ❤️
Monday Morning Starts with a Startle
Turning on my side in my warm bed in the morning, suddenly my only roommate, the Asian woman, spouts off something in my direction. Her message is obfuscated. My mind is still asleep when she grabbed the chance to get something off of her chest the second she saw me moving.
Focusing, I prop myself up on my arm to give her my attention and try to decipher what her urgency is. For sure she needs someone to listen to her, judging from the stress in her voice. Through her very strong accent I capture words like “cancelled my flight!… they keep cancelling. And I went to this city and that, and they cancelled and cancelled…. And now my visa ran out! I have no visa!” her voice at a constant, loud level.
To validate her right to be angry I say things like, “What! They can’t keep doing this! Cancelling, that’s awful. They keep cancelling, yes. Are you going to the embassy now?”
Earnestly, I try to engage and be helpful from my bed, but I’m not a morning person. My brain just isn’t awake and it’s processing my own thoughts, like people normally do through dreams. Sometimes I have creative dreams all the way up until the minute I wake up.
Through previous interactions in the kitchen, the dining and living rooms I had confirmed that my roommate is actually from China. Since then she’s also smiled and chuckled a lot at her own attempts to communicate with people and do basic things. Sure, I made a joke about her rooming with me … and my imminent doom lol. But there’s not much that can be helped.
Some scientists and journalists say – and yes, this is controversial and can be challenged – that most people will, in fact, contract coronavirus and it’s not a matter of “if” but “when.” Whether this is so or not, we must decide how to handle outbreaks like this. Even if you don’t have symptoms, quarantine yourself if you come from a city or country where there’s high exposure or if you know someone who’s contracted it. Be considerate by absolutely avoiding older people. Hope to control cases until the people who contract it build an immunity and, again, take great care to not affect our loved ones in the later, more vulnerable stages of their lives.
I don’t like this exacerbation by enclosing the virus in an unventilated home, buying supplies out of proportion like it’s the end of the world, or ruining economies by closing almost everything.
Luckily, she never displayed any symptoms of being sick, nor does she look feverish.
My Chinese roommate leaves in a rush to do something or go somewhere and I turn back on my side to sleep some more. Soon I reach for my phone, though, to check the status of my flight just so I can sleep like a baby: completely worry-free.
On the TAP website I enter “922” into the flight number field and hit the submit button to check the flight status.
No. This can’t be happening.
Ufffffff…. My chest deflates. It is happening.
Not hungry, I’m going to have to make a dash for the airport to see if I can get on a flight today. One last push. Just one last effort before I resign myself to a few weeks of an uncertain financial and health situation far from the city where I live, work and am close to family.