So far, my quarantine has been relatively tranquil. I can’t at all complain, knowing how bad things could have been.
Almost two weeks ago, I was getting ready to leave Morocco. After a truly memorable and hassle-free spring break spent in Barcelona, Spain and Fes, Morocco, my friends and I were preparing to head home. We skimmed headlines when we had WiFi, but had no concept of how bad things had gotten in the United States with COVID-19.
Very early Saturday morning, as we were getting ready to leave for our early morning connecting flight from Morocco to Spain to fly to New York, we were notified that the flight had been cancelled. We weren’t given an explanation or a refund. Frazzled, we rushed to the airport where we discovered that all flights to Spain had been cancelled. Out of sheer luck, we caught a flight to Toulouse, a city in southern France which is close to the Iberian peninsula, instead of the flight to Paris, which is essentially unreachable from Spain by bus. From Toulouse we hopped a six hour bus to Barcelona, allowing us to catch our flight to JFK. We had a single hour to get from the middle of the city of Barcelona to the gate of our plane. After a blur of “enthusiastic” taxi rides, cutting all the customs lines and a frantic, Rocky-esque sprint up some steps, we arrived breathlessly at our gate. We landed in New York 30 minutes prior to 12:00 AM, which is when the travel bans and intensive screening processes were set to begin.
Since then, I have been happily sequestered in a family house on Long Beach Island, New Jersey where there aren’t too many people and the supermarket still carries paper goods! Although it’s hardly ideal for her, I’m selfishly relieved that my friend, Mattie, is stuck here with me too (so we can annoy each other, instead of me being annoying all by myself). We have become champion potato latke chefs and are honing our ping-pong skills. Sometimes we reminisce about the days when we attended a small, Christian liberal arts school in Massachusetts, where people frolicked around the sidewalks and ate food in public spaces.
In all seriousness, I’m realizing just how lucky I have been. I recently read an article featuring ten women from Oregon who have been stranded in Morocco following their vacation. It could have been us so incredibly easily. But instead, my biggest worries are about school or summer plans, instead of navigating this pandemic, homeless and alone in a foreign country. I’m really grateful to be safe and close (but obviously within rules of social distancing) to the people I love the most.