Washington DC after the Quarantine

June 24, 2020

I have been here for 24 days.  At the beginning I was secluded in the basement of the house where my daughters live and had limited interactions with them (just in the patio).  But on the 11th day, having had no symptoms, my doctor set me free.  He indicated that a 14-days quarantine was unnecessary.   The number 14 has become the norm but it seems to be arbitrary,  reflecting, mainly, the risk aversion of policymakers.

The trip from Beirut was not pleasant.  The Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt was packed and not everybody was wearing masks.  I was wearing a dust-mask at all times and it was uncomfortable and painful.  When we landed in Frankfurt we had to disembark in groups of 10.  This implied having even more contact with passengers waiting to exit the plane; I was in the last row.  I spent the night at the airport’s Sheraton. Bars and restaurants were closed but they had room service and I was able to order a gin&tonic, a Hamburger, and a bottle of red, Sicilian, wine.  Well deserved.     

The next day I was at the United check-in counter three hours before the flight’s departure.  The American consul was there and, after having shown  my daughters birth certificates and answered questions about countries I had visited, he cleared my trip to the US.  I also had to buy a “return ticket.”  I couldn’t buy a ticket to fly to St Martin so I got one to go to Antigua.  The flight from Frankfurt to Washington DC was better, at least the middle seats were empty.   But again people were not wearing masks all the time, including my neighbor.  I read and watched a couple of movies; couldn’t really sleep because, although we were served some food, the flight was dry.  It seems this will be the standard for some time to come.  

At the airport in DC no social distancing was enforced.  Instead, we were packed like sardines in shuttles that drove us to migration.   There I had to answer yet another round of questions but they finally let me in.  

Traveling by plane was a nightmare before COVID19 and it will now get much worse: more delays, less comfort, no alcohol, and a higher risk of becoming seriously ill. 

On a more positive note, DC is a great place to be during a lock-down.  The house is very close to Rock Creek park.  We run and bike there, play soccer, hike. At this time of the year the park is mostly green.  Restaurants and bars are opening although they operate at low capacity.  Yesterday I went to a French one — La Piquette — to meet colleagues.  Tonight I m returning to have dinner with a friend who is, actually,  a COVID survivor.  

As for the sailing trip, yesterday I got tickets to fly to St Martin on July 7th.  I was able to change, at no cost, the flight to Antigua for a flight to St Martin.  My youngest daughter Sofia, who just turned 10 last week, is coming with me.  We will sail together to Martinique through St Barths, St Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, Guadeloupe and Dominica.  That is the plan.  Marina, the eldest, and hopefully Natalia  are supposed to join us in Martinique.  From there I will continue to Grenada on my own.  

I will be updating this journal more frequently.


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