On pins and needles…Are we going to be able to get out of India and enter South Africa in 4 days?

  • This dinner and fireworks at Hanwant Mahal located in the Umaid Palace, also known as the Khaas Bagh, were extra special in Jodhpur while touring during the Maharajas Express.

    Over these past weeks, we’ve mentioned our concerns over Covid-19 and why a few days ago, we had to change our travel plans when the 29-night cruise from Mumbai, India to Greenwich, England, was canceled.

    Subsequently, we booked a flight to South Africa, where there are fewer cases (total of 51 so far as of today, with a population of 59 million) and 110 cases in India (with a population of 1.3 billion), as opposed to the almost 3000 cases in the US (with a population of 329 million). There’s a travel ban for anyone entering South Africa from the US, not from India.

    We spotted five tigers while on safari in two national parks, Bandvargarh and Kanha.

    Will that have an impact on us? We’ll have been in India for 11 days short of two months. So far, there’s no ban for travelers coming into South Africa from India. But, we don’t know what will happen when we get to immigration at the airport in Johannesburg on March 20th, only four days from today. 

    Will we be allowed entry into the country, be quarantined, or, worst-case scenario, be forced to leave? We are going on blind faith. As a result of the risk of this worst-case scenario, we’ve had to discuss some options as to where we could go to “wait it out” and yet continue to live our lives as usual as possible.

    A pair of “owlets” (as referred to by our safari guide) captured our hearts.

    There are several African countries with no virus cases, such as Namibia and Madagascar, and others, all countries we’d consider visiting, if necessary.

    As for waiting it out? Is that a possibility? Or is this pandemic going to continue for months to come? None of us know the answer.

    You may ask, why don’t we go back to the US? For a few reasons:

    1. We don’t have adequate US health insurance, but we do have excellent international insurance
    2. Risks are high if we have to travel through hectic US airports
    3. Cost of living is high in the US as opposed to African nations (two times higher based on our experience)
    4. I am at high risk due to having cardiovascular disease, asthma, and my age. For me, getting this virus could be fatal.
    5. Apparently, the US is the only country globally with all five strains of the virus.

    Spotted deer in India are as prevalent as impalas in Africa.

    Staying away from countries with vast numbers of cases makes the most sense to us both. Yes, it’s possible. Should we be able to land in South Africa, the virus will continue to spread in vast numbers, as in the US. In that case, we’d hightail out of there to yet another country. 

    I never imagined that if such a virus would manifest in the world that we’d have the flexibility to travel as much as we do, as much as we can. Most likely, we can’t outrun it, but if we can, we will.

    No doubt, this isn’t very comforting, for all of you, for us. None of us are exempt from the fear and concern for ourselves, our loved ones, and our friends.  The frenzy over food and paper products in the US baffles us. The frenzy, in general, provides no benefit for anyone. We don’t want to be around it if we can avoid it.

    Another favorite tiger photo.

    We’ll see how all of this rolls out in the next four days. A lot can happen in four days. In two days, we’ll leave Madurai to fly to Mumbai. We can only look at one step at a time as this process continues.

    In the interim, we are avoiding any future tours in India, preferring to avoid crowded areas. Driving around in the traffic attempting to take photos is fruitless as well, and honestly, we’ve lost our enthusiasm for sightseeing at this point. 

    A nighttime view of the restaurant where we dined in Udaipur on several occasions.

    We’re safely cooped up in the Regency Hotel in Madurai, where they checked our temperatures when we checked in. We appreciated it, but they need to check guests’ temperatures daily since they’ve been transmitting the virus for a day by the time one has a temperature.

    Thank you to our readers for such positive reinforcement, prayers, and well wishes. We offer the same to every one of you. Stay safe! Stay healthy!

    Photo from one year ago today, March 16, 2019:

    Little came up on the veranda looking for me, already positioned on his knees for some treats.
    For more photos, please click here. (It was one year ago, my legs were severely infected from the grafts taken for the bypass surgery. I hadn’t been outdoors much, and Little came looking for me once again).

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