COVID-related travel complications still abound and not all places are maskless.
By MARILYN ROBITAILLE
As we take those first tentative steps out from under the rock of COVID, remember that Texas is not the world. If you are, as I am, a native Texan, I’m sure you’ll agree that we live in one of the best places on the planet.
We’re fully acclimated to the joys of small-town life. Our idea of heavy traffic centers on that light by Walgreens, and we can make a quick run into town without locking up the house like Fort Knox.
So if you’re planning on international travel before the school bells ring, shake off the complacency we all so love. The rest of the world looks nothing like the Ville.
I recently returned from a five-star resort in Mexico. Of course, I expected pampering. What I didn’t expect was that everybody, and I do mean every single person, at the resort and everywhere else wore a mask coming and going. Into the palatial lobby, into the restaurants, in town and on to the beach - everywhere.
Only when the food was served or once we settled in under beach umbrella did the mask go into our pockets. The hotel staff stood at the ready and asked any maskless guest to put it on. I got the distinct impression that anybody who refused would not have gained entry.
When we left the resort property (masked up in the taxi, of course), the gate attendants simply waived us through; however, upon returning to the property, we were met with a full set of protocols.
Before we were allowed entry, they took our temperatures, and then issued a big dollop of hand sanitizer to each of us.
Always ready to explore our surroundings, my travel companion and I also visited a big casino in one of the shopping malls. We were met with the same routine of temperature check and hand sanitizer entering the mall and the casino.
When we asked our driver to stop at Walmart on the way back to the resort (I know. Walmart should never be an international destination, but we were out of sunscreen), we actually had to wait at the door because the store had reached capacity.
A “counter” managed the number of occupants entering and departing the store. After a few minutes, and only after yet another temperature check and dose of sanitizer, we were in the store.
Going through Mexican customs upon arrival involved downloading a special IFly app where we entered details about our destination addresses and passports. We sailed through. Returning to the US was more complicated.
The CDC requires that returning US citizens take either a PCR test or an antigen test within three days of departure. We were leaving on Saturday, so that meant we could take the test at the earliest on Wednesday. Fortunately, the resort made arrangements with a local medical facility to set up a clinic at the resort.
We made appointments for 9 a.m. and arrived to an empty ballroom with about 50 other guests. Around 9:30 a.m. staff sauntered in and collected our passports and then began to call us. I suspect we were called in the order of the passport stack rather than our appointment times, and the whole process took about an hour and a half.
If you’ve been vaccinated at least 30 days or so before the antigen test, you should meet the requirement with this $30 test.
People who haven’t been vaccinated took the PCR test and paid $130. If you’re a gambling person, and you’ve had COVID and no vaccine, you might pass the antigen test, but it’s not a sure pass as having had the vaccine.
We overheard one couple attempting to make arrangements at the resort for an extended 10-day quarantine stay because he didn’t pass the antigen test. That added a blistering complication to their resort vacation.
All of this is new to the resorts, the airlines, and those who travel, so be prepared. It’s never been so hard to have fun.
Is it worth it all? Absolutely!