Around the world during a global pandemic — mom has made it home!
She has safely traveled the 8,500 miles from Malay, Aklan, Panay, Philippines to Cleveland, Ohio, USA. She is back home for the first time in more than 10 months.
The photo at the top is mom (Diane) at a scenic roadside rest-stop in upstate New York during her drive home from my brother Damian’s house, where her car had been sitting nearly a year.
It is odd to see mom bundled up in near-freezing temperatures after all these months of Philippine heat. Heck, I’ve forgotten what a coat even looks like after two years in tropical Southeast Asia.
Mom says the fall leaves and colors are mostly gone in New York. But maybe she can still enjoy some autumn scenery in Ohio which is at a slightly more southern latitude.
Of course, we are still getting used to life without mom. She had become a full time member of the Earth Vagabonds team after flight cancellations due to the coronavirus extended her planned 10-week visit to over 40 weeks.
In 2020, mom Diane stayed with us on five different islands and made several other side trips on her own. She befriended and helped many local folks as the COVID crisis unfolded. For days now, friends and acquaintances here in the Philippines have been asking about mom’s travel experience.
Thankfully, she did not encounter any problems during her two day journey around the globe. Her only real issue; jet lag. She stopped for a few long naps at rest areas during her U.S. drive.
Her first flight from the small Boracay airport near our current rental apartment took her to Manila where the airport was mostly deserted.
Mom says the next flight, from a Manila to Tokyo, Japan did have some passengers. But on the final leg, from Tokyo to JFK airport in New York, the plane was empty.
While still in the Philippines, Japan Airlines directed mom to an online questionnaire regarding her recent travel and interactions. The form – required by New York state immigration authorities – determined she did not pose any COVID risk and neither testing nor quarantine was necessary. The clearance seemed contrary to NYS Travel Advisory guidelines, but a message sent to her cell phone confirmed her compliance.
Mom says she breezed right through the customs and immigration processes at JFK; no lines, no waiting, hardly any travelers. She appeared to be one of very few Americans returning from overseas. National Guard members were patrolling the airport and asked to see the cell phone compliance screen before she could leave the immigration control area.
As a precaution, mom is planning to self-quarantine for the next two weeks in her home on the far west side of Cleveland. Indeed, we hope she avoids human contact as much as possible. With virus cases spiking across the country, Ohio seems more dangerous than Boracay.
Still, I know mom will be eager to restart her home life which revolves around family, friends, church, and outdoor activity. Hopefully, she can squeeze in some autumn nature hikes before all the fall colors fade away.
Since mom’s departure, we have had a moderate typhoon move through the Philippines – and another is currently brewing. For better or worse, Cleveland snow and ice is what mom will soon contend with instead.
In sum, we are truly glad that mom’s pandemic trip around the world went as smoothly as it did. Thanks to everyone who has been following along for their thoughts, concern, and well wishes.
As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer.
Life is now!