We Are Ready to Fly
As many, if not all of us, we did not travel last year. In fact, it was not until May 2021 when we finally set foot on a plane. Even though we do not watch the news, it is inevitable to see what has been going on during flights between passengers and/or flight crew and tourists in other countries. Regardless of our beliefs, we always follow guidelines and rules while flying and when visiting other countries—just as we would like for tourists visiting the U.S. to adhere to our rules and regulations. So, for this trip, we visited our native island of Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico is at a Level 4—top level of COVID right now. They required us to get tested and test negatively only 72 hours before departing. Therefore, we complied. Unbeknownst to us, we could have flown without getting tested since we are vaccinated. Now we know. We did not encounter any unruly passengers at the airport or on board. In fact, everyone complied with their mask-wearing, considerate with social distancing, and polite. Maybe it was the fact they, too, were happy to get away for a few days or weeks.
What the Heck is Going On Here?
Upon arrival at the island, it was a different story. As we approached the baggage claim area, airport staff received us in hazmat suits. There were posters everywhere requesting every incoming traveler to create an account at www.travelsafe.pr.gov (Travel Safe) website and complete a questionnaire regarding COVID. We also had to upload a copy of our Negative COVID Test done before travel. Then we had to wait for a QSR code that was sent to us and proceed to the line where a hazmat-dressed airport staff member would scan the code, take a snapshot of our photo ID’s and allow us to exit the airport. “Wow,” I thought, “they are taking this seriously.”
Once we were out of the airport, we picked up our rental vehicle. On our way to our mainstay, we made a stop at Piñones for some well-deserved “alcapurrias and bacalaitos.” Please do not ask for the translation in English. I really do not know what it is. I will say they are delicious Puerto Rican fritters. Back at my story, it pleasantly surprised us to see how our fellow Puerto Ricans all wore their masks and followed social distancing. Not only in Piñones, but in all places we visited.
Get With Us or Get Out!
For instance, everywhere—restaurants, supermarkets, pharmacies, bakeries, mom & pop shops—we stepped foot in, had a temperature reading gadget at the entrance, as well as hand sanitizer. I had never seen the temperature reader before. They do not have them in Florida—at least not in any place we’ve visited. Since we were not familiar with this gadget, we just continued to walk past it. Not a good idea, we were called out, not only by employees but by clients too. That was embarrassing. We did not even know how to use the darn thing. Thanks to an incoming customer who explained we only needed to place our wrist in front of the gadget for it to read our temperature, as well as to use the hand sanitizer provided. Oh wow, they are much more serious than we are in Florida.
Not only are fellow Puerto Ricans compliant indoors, but outdoor as well. In Florida, if we are walking outdoors—such as my neighborhood, parking lot, or large public areas with no one else around—we don’t wear a mask. Not in Puerto Rico. Dog walkers wear a mask, people walking through parking lots towards their vehicles wore a mask, heck even people inside their vehicles driving were wearing a mask! That is outstanding, Puerto Ricans are ready to nip this COVID thing in the butt. And yet, all people post on Facebook are the negative things that happen on the island.
Tourists Not So Compliant
The only places where we encountered unmasked people were the tourist spots, and guess what? They were all tourists. Were they all from the USA? I do not know, but we could tell they were tourists. Of course, there are some tourists who comply. It is unfortunate that there were more non-compliant ones. I do not understand how some travelers seem to think that they are above and beyond others and not comply with rules and regulations when traveling. Like I said before, I’d expect travelers visiting the U.S. to adhere to our rules and regulations so why don’t we treat others the way we want to be treated? I promise you, you’ll have a much better experience immersing yourself in their culture, rules and regulations than trying to have it your way. Hopefully the pandemic will end soon and we can all resume our lives as normal or better than before.
Have you traveled yet during the pandemic? What’s your story?