As soon as the news that KBCC was transferring to distance education was in my inbox, we bought a ticket to Columbia. My fiancé and I love traveling, but everyone around us was panicking.
People were stockpiling cleaning supplies, canned foods and toilet paper. Why toilet paper? If anything, you probably need tissues if you catch the virus. Stores ran out of masks which forced store owners to limit sales to three masks per person. A salesman near my apartment explained that before this was labeled a pandemic, people would buy 20 boxes of 100 masks and began to resell them to the same stores for two times the price.
COVID-19 brought out the worst in many people. It became a projector that shined our fears of the unknown and death out to the masses. Once Trump announced a state of national emergency, ticket prices became incredibly cheap. All of this was happening so fast, which we didn’t take into account. Our flight was at 6:30AM the next morning. As we were in the airport, Columbia, among many other countries, closed its border. Our layover was in Florida and Florida is where we ended up.
Where do we stay? How do we get home? As we were sitting in the airport, my fiancé’s throat started itching. We were able to find an Airbnb, where we thought we would stay for one night and find a way back to New York. By morning, he was coughing, having difficulty breathing and with a fever. Forced quarantining in Florida turned into a gift and a punishment.
Do we stock up on food or not? We urgently needed to find food but the store shelves were mostly empty. One dozen eggs per person. No milk. No cheese. No water. No meat. The beaches were closing. We ended up finding one open restaurant on TripAdvisor, which ended up being a hospital cafeteria. Worst of all, pharmacies barely had any cough remedies.
We started to remember the natural remedies that our parents had taught us, such as using salty ocean water to clear your throat. Once we finally found a beach that didn’t have a taped over the entrance and had no people, we ran to the water to fill up a bottle of saltwater and gargle.
Soon after, a police officer was speeding towards us on an ATV to tell us that even this beach is closed and we could face getting a $500 fine and/or 15 days in jail. We kept trying all of the methods we knew to get rid of this horrible mucus cough that was obviously turning into bronchitis. His nasal canal was so congested he sounded like Donald Duck. So, we tried an old method to decongest your sinuses: putting a cut in half garlic clove in your nose and breathing through your nose for a few minutes. It worked incredibly well and with a bit of online research, we found that people suggest putting it in your ears as well.
A disaster waiting to happen. It slipped into his ear canal, and soon we found ourselves at the emergency room, with a doctor pulling garlic out of my fiancé’s ear with all sorts of instruments. Another remedy which ended up costing $335 more than a nasal decongestant at CVS.
Finally, I woke up feeling just as sick as my fiancé. Quarantining is best done at home and alone. We decided it was time to take the Florida “Less Stress Away” back up the coast. Yes, there’s actually a highway in Florida called that. After approximately 19 hours of us driving and coughing our lungs out in the car, we could now isolate properly.
Please: learn from our mistake! Don’t panic, but also don’t take this lightly. Don’t travel. Don’t go out to see friends. Self-quarantine and spend that time at home wisely, we all know we wish we had more of it before this pandemic. Instead of excess buying toilet paper, save it for those who have yet to buy any and may truly need it, like the elderly. Have one box of tissues and one box of paracetamol handy for symptoms in case you do catch it.
Stay home! Stay safe! They say now you can save the world by just watching Netflix!