Former Chanhassen couple spends ten months under lockdown at hotel in India
By Lydia Christianson firstname.lastname@example.org
- 12 hrs ago
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Learn more about the travels of Jess and Tom Lyman at worldwidewaftage.com
Jess and Tom Lyman have been traveling around the world for nearly nine years.
Jess and Tom Lyman, former residents of Chanhassen, have traveled the world for almost nine years.
Nothing “short of death” has been able to put a stop to their adventuring, not even Jess’s emergency open-heart surgery, performed in South Africa in 2019.
But then, COVID-19 hit.
The Lymans were visiting the U.S. in January 2020 when they first got wind of COVID-19. They were leaving to travel in India, so they were sure to pack N99 masks to combat the smog. Little did they know they’d also be using them for other purposes.
The couple took a week-long trip on the Maharaja Express, getting off along the way to take tours. The first week of February, when the train ended, the Lymans had scheduled a private tour of India that included driving and flying.
“It was an extraordinary experience that it was just the two of us,” Jess said. “We were having the time of our lives.”
In March, the couple learned a cruise they had booked, which had prompted them to go to India in the first place, was canceled due to COVID-19. At that point, they decided to cancel the tour and go back to Mumbai.
The Lymans checked into a hotel that was already holding some of their luggage. They booked a flight to Johannesburg to get to Marloth Park, a wildlife sanctuary positioned on the southern boundary of the Kruger National Park in South Africa.
The Lymans headed back to a hotel they stayed at in January, only to find out it was closing a couple of days later due to the pandemic. Arriving at the airport at 3 a.m. for red-eye out of Mumbai, they found South Africa had closed its borders. But, the hotel had arranged another place for them to stay.
“Hotels were closing so rapidly you wouldn’t believe it. It was like doors slamming one after another,” Jess said.
Upon arriving, not only had the hotel never heard of them, they were closing the following day. The Lymans had nowhere to go but tried to remain calm. They stayed in the hotel lobby for several hours, searching for hotels or vacation homes with the help of the concierge.
“He said the only hotels I can find for you are those that have COVID patients because there’s no room in the hospitals for them,” Jess said.
Finally, the concierge found a hotel near the airport that they could stay at for the night. The hotel said they were open but couldn’t make any guarantees for how long, Jess said. It was March 24, the day a nationwide lockdown was ordered.
The Lymans spent ten months living at the hotel.
One of the restrictions of the lockdown involved a ban on alcohol sales. The hotel staff came into their room to empty the mini-fridge. The couple was also told they couldn’t go down to the hotel restaurant and that their food would be delivered to the room.
Neither of the Lymans eats Indian food. Tom is a “picky eater,” so he ate chicken penne pasta every night for dinner for eight months. Jess ate salmon and chicken on rotation for dinner for all ten months.
“I haven’t had a piece of salmon since we got out of there,” Jess said with a laugh.
The Lymans weren’t supposed to go outside because the hotel didn’t want them bringing COVID-19 back with them. However, they were allowed to walk around the floor they were staying on. Jess would walk five miles through the corridors while Tom walked the stairs.
Jess found it helpful to develop a routine. Every day she would get ready, work on their travel website and walk the hotel’s hallways. She would post old travel photos and even make a video of her walk for their fans to see what lockdown was like. At around 3 p.m., the Lymans would stream TV shows, preferably ones with many episodes. It helped them to get out of their heads, Jess said.
The Lymans strived to take each day at a time. It would have been unbearable if they knew ahead of time that it would be ten months, Tom said.
“Each day we took as a new day, and tomorrow’s another day, and we’re going to get through it,” Jess said.
Fans of Lyman’s travel site stuck with them throughout the lockdown and acted as their “cheering section.” It helped them know that there were people worldwide following along and being supportive, Jess said.
People would ask the Lymans how they fared alone in a hotel room for ten months. Luckily, they like each other a lot, was Jess’s response. Neither of them ever got depressed or was ready to give up, she said. According to Tom, he resigned himself to reality and decided to have a good attitude.
“We just hung in there thinking; maybe tomorrow will be the day we can fly out,” Jess said.
During the lockdown, Jess’s older sister, whom she was close with, died. She couldn’t go to the funeral, she said, adding that it was really hard. A number of their family members in the U.S. got COVID-19. It was difficult for the Lymans, knowing there was nothing they could do.
The Lymans were terrified of getting COVID-19. Hospitals were so full that patients were being put in beds in the parking lot. They were also concerned if they ever needed a doctor for any other reason.
Finally, the day came that the Lymans would leave the hotel room they had called home for almost a year.
The Lymans watched for the airports to reopen, and in January 2021, their wish came true. They left their hotel in Mumbai, and 59 hours of travel later, they arrived at Marloth Park. Only 72 hours after they arrived, Emirates Airlines stopped flying to South Africa.
“We got here by the skin of our teeth,” Jess said.
After traveling for so many years, the couple has had some good and some bad experiences. You can’t travel without some bad, Jess said. Their lockdown in India was just one more situation. Together they learned that they could choose to be strong and get through it.
The Lymans have future travel plans in mind, but things don’t look good with the COVID-19 Delta variant.
“We just got this travel bug, and we can’t put an end to it,” Jess said. “We’re adventurers … we’ll figure it out.”
Photo from one year ago today, August 27, 2020:
|This photo from this date in 2014, posted one year ago while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #157. My dinner at Bella Italia consisted of two small chicken breasts in a pot of red sauce with a side of grilled vegetables. For more, please click here.|