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  • kathleen855

Quarantine in Jamaica

Have you wondered what it is like to test positive for COVID in a foreign country?

Well, let me tell you. For me, it was an adventure for sure. I landed in Jamaica on a Sunday for a three night FAM trip (tour the resort as a travel agent). I had been awake for over 30 hours at that point and when they asked, I told them I was there for business. What I didn’t recall at that moment, was that meant mandatory quarantine. Fine, totally fine, I have to stay at Sandals Negril for my entire time in the country. No big deal, right.....? Oh, and a COVID test. Lucky lucky me.

Well, that was on Sunday. After a few great days at the resort, which I absolutely love, I was arranging my shuttle to go home on Wednesday morning. The manager needed to speak with me, and I couldn’t figure out why. It felt like going to the principal’s office... not like I ever experienced that or anything ...but still. I was nervous. He told me that the health department was on the way with my test results, and I needed to go back to my room and wait for them to arrive. It was a few hour drive so I had some time to wait. At that moment I knew, and panic set in. The good news? I at least knew that I didn’t contract it on my trip, because I would have never lived that down! I had a negative test Wednesday to travel, and then I was tested again 4 days later.

Back home a friend of mine was still on a ventilator due to COVID. I was thousands of miles from home, in a foreign country, completely alone. More panic. A lot more panic. Then they arrived fully gowned with paperwork ordering me to quarantine and a log for my temperature readings twice a day. Did I mention panic yet??! It was definitely full force by now.

Following the paperwork the hotel staff came by. I receive a thermometer, bag full of linens, basket FULL of cleaning supplies, masks, gloves, medical gowns, mop and broom (they had different plans than I did apparently!) and the phone number for the manager to text my food requests to.

Then there was silence. I realized that I was now extending my stay far past the three nights originally planned. I FaceTimed my husband and two younger kids, he thought I was joking until he realized how worried I was. I FaceTimed with my parents who had my teenagers, and they also were sure I was joking, had to show them the paperwork.

Then more silence in my room. Fortunately the hotel had the availability to allow me to stay in my ocean front room. Luckily, because sunsets and beach musicians were the highlight of my many days. That and the three times a day someone would bring a meal to my door.

I would message the manager every evening my food order for the next day. I would chat with the staff who walked back and forth past my room all day. I would politely decline the vendors asking if I wanted to smoke, or buy a hat, or come to the beach and listen to music.

I made the decision in the first moments that I would not tell my friends or family back home if I was sick, unless it was hospital worthy. They were too far away to do anything at all but worry. They remained under the assumption I was here due to a false positive. I did have symptoms. Runny nose, sore throat, diarrhea, chest pain, coughing. It all subsided within a week. I was so thankful once it did. Never a fever, but the thermometer never showed above 97.5, and was often low 96 range, so not certain of the accuracy on that portion.

The hospitality at Sandals Negril far exceeded my expectations for a quarantine. They were so incredibly kind, called to check on my regularly, delivered meals with a little chit chat and a distance, and made sure I was always ok. Brought me cocktails, amazing food, and always asked if there was anything more they could do.

For this mother of four that rarely does nothing at all, that was the hardest part.

I did have to request proof of my positive result from the health department as I knew I’d need it for travel. It took a week to get it to me, at which time I realized the date was wrong. The department of health in Hanover had me staying a day longer than I needed to. When I brought it up they said they couldn’t change it, (or wouldn’t) so I was stuck with the extra day here. That had nothing to do with the resort, only the Jamaican Health Department.

I made the most of it. Made many bookings for Sandals and a few other trips. Got caught up on a few Netflix series. Even spent some time learning more Spanish!

Would I do it again? Absolutely. Sure, hand washing my clothes in a hotel sink and staying in a room for a solid 12 days isn’t my idea of actual vacation. However, it kept my family safe. It kept me healthy. And did I mention the view??

(Sandals policy is to allow the guest to stay in the room if it’s available. They also are covering the cost of insurance that will reimburse the hotel stay. Pretty decent way to quarantine.)

So, if you’re traveling internationally any time soon.... 1. Take two weeks of extra medications (including vitamins and over the counter.) 2. Have insurance to cover the cost of additional nights. 3. Make sure whoever is watching your house/kids/dog can do it an extra two weeks just in case. 4. Bring along what you’d need to work or relax should you land in quarantine. 5. Make the most of it!

I’m here to answer any questions! Be safe out there, I have my paperwork in hand and ready to fly home!

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