And it has been a harrowing year to live across the ocean, knowing that a pandemic was attacking and killing thousands of people in my parents’ age group.
That’s why it seems like a miracle that today, I got to hug them again.
I know, I know. It isn’t safe to travel now. The odds of getting out of locked-down France, into Spain and onto a flight to Florida seemed low. But my parents have both had their vaccinations and Earl and I have had our first shot, which the doctor said should give us about 85% coverage. It was a risk we needed to take.
France locked down nearly a week ago. We got our negative Covid test results Thursday morning and our friends Jack and Jules drove us an hour to the train station in Perpignan.
There we caught a train to Barcelona, which takes about an hour and a half. There were about 5 people in our train car. Spain is more open than France, but people are all wearing masks and staying distant.
We took a walk from our hotel Thursday evening, finding a Starbucks (the one decadence I miss from the States) and sitting near La Sagrada Familia, the Gaudi designed cathedral that is still unfinished, to drink our coffee.
|No crowds taking pictures this time in Barcelona|
We got take out from a Turkish restaurant and carried it back to our hotel room. In Spain, restaurants are allowed to serve people until 5 pm. Then they can offer take out dining from 5-10. Their curfew is at 10, which makes France’s 7 pm curfew seem pitiful.
We had a breakfast buffet at the hotel. It felt weird to eat inside a restaurant. There was only one other person in the big room. The buffet had hand sanitizer and plastic gloves at both ends to limit the spread of virus.
|Only one other person was eating breakfast|
A taxi picked us up at the hotel and we walked into a very empty-feeling airport. There was no one in line in front of us so we quickly checked in. I hadn’t been allowed to check-in online because the first question American Airlines asked was whether we had visited South Africa, Brazil, China, Europe, etc, recently. Since we were flying out of Spain, you can guess the answer to that question. Answering yes meant we couldn’t check in online.
There were many helpful people at the airport. I always feel guilty saying “no hablo espagnol” and being satisfied with “hola” and “gracias.”
|Our plane looks so small from here.|
When we got on the plane, we realized how fortunate we were to find a flight going abroad at all. This flight from Barcelona to Miami had only 29 passengers on a flight that could take more than 200. Thanks, American Airlines for not canceling.
The flight attendants offered us our choice of seats (not in business or first class, obviously).
|Fellow passengers were few and far between|
We had snacks and lunch and little cups of ice cream with a plastic spoon.
|In case you've forgotten what an airplane meal looks like. |
Noodles and sauce, salad, cheese, bread and chocolate cake for dessert.
|If only it had a wooden spoon.|
I finished reading a book and watched a French movie about a woman hiking with a donkey, hilarity ensues.
We landed in Miami because it seemed a better option than hanging out in airports and transferring to another plane. Instead, we reserved a car to drive the three hours to Mom and Dad’s.
We return the car to a nearby town Saturday morning and then we’ll quarantine at Mom and Dad’s for 10 days. And if all goes well, we should get to see those well-loved sons of ours in Ohio, one of whom we haven’t seen in 14 months either.
My heart is full at the miracle of it all.