South to Bonaire

We arrive in Calgary at 10:30 after a three hour drive door to door. A couple of times during the drive I say, I can’t believe we are actually doing this. We are early for our appointment at Numi Health for the required PCR covid test but we go in anyway. Fill out forms, get tested and are out before our scheduled appointment time. Must not be busy. Doing my due diligence, I ask the fellow about what we do if the results don’t arrive during the allotted time….that has never happened he says, so you will be fine. OK…..(Note: if you need a PCR test for travel, use this company, they are great.)

Go back 24 hours….On Sunday we attempted to fill in and submit the Bonaire Health Declaration form. It is supposed to be submitted between 72 and 48 hours before arrival in Bonaire. The PCR COVID test is to be done within 72 hours. Because we are getting our test done in Calgary on Monday, we did not have the test results before filling in the form. So, we could lie on the form and say we did it and that the test was negative, or we could delay sending the form (outside the time requirement) until we got our test results. We decided to wait for the test results and submit late.

We spend a comfortable and chatty time with M&G visiting at their house. G drives us to the Calgary Airport Marriott Hotel, attached to the terminal as we have left our car at their house.

We have four time items on our to do list, which we tackle once in our room.

1. Obtain an 8 digit code for the antigen test required at the Bonaire airport upon arrival. We booked the test on Sunday but had to wait to get the code. We do that while we wait for the results of the covid test. Goes well as does another health form that needs to be filled out.

2. My COVID test result comes in from Numi. Negative! A sense of relief washes over me. Except where are Murray’s results? I thought I entered my email address for him too. We wait and wait. About a half hour later, Murray suggests we check his email, and sure enough, it is there. Also Negative!

3. We head downstairs to the hotel computer attached to a printer. We print copies of the test results . We also use that computer to fill out and print the Health Declaration for Bonaire, which we read is a requirement to enter Bonaire. We get that done too. Things are looking pretty good.

4. As we are in the terminal, we walk over to the Delta check in area and use a kiosk to check in for our flight. Boarding passes printed.

As we walk back to the hotel, that sense of excitement bubbles up even more. 

We talk about how we, as very experienced and savvy travellers have worked our way through the maze of hoops required, both by the US and Bonaire. How does the average traveller do this? Can she/he get through the maze? 

All four items on the list are checked off and we are a go for US immigration and boarding a flight tomorrow. Bonaire here we come!

Both of us sleep poorly, of course. Up at 5:30, shower, dress and skedaddle. The airport is deserted. We cruise through security, but the regulators get the bags pulled off to the side. Fortunately the woman checking the bags was very knowledgeable and efficient and we are on our way again. Regulator hoses. With all our paperwork in hand, we walk to US Immigration. The fellow there didn’t want to see our paper work and didn’t even look at our passports. He said something about the camera he took our pictures with and some other cues, and that we posed no threat, no need for further questioning. A note: when we checked in, we filled out an electronic attestation stating that we had done a COVID test and tested negative. Done!

Boardings the airplane. Again no checking of documents except passports and boarding passes. We did however have to pull down our masks so the gate agent could compare the passport photo to real life.

I am sitting on the airplane writing this waiting for takeoff for Minneapolis. We are doing this! Here we go!

As we approach Minneapolis, the flight attendant makes an announcement that we have to go through customs and immigration again and that passports and COVID test results will be checked. We get out our documents and are ready as we deplane, but nothing, nada, zip. No customs,  no immigration, no document check. Such confusion, but we sure are prepared!

The flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta was standard travel.

Although it is 7:00 pm local time when we arrive in Atlanta, we decide to first go to check in at the Atlanta Airport Marriott Gateway Hotel and then go check in at the Delta kiosks, just like we did in Calgary, before we have supper. Boy are we glad we decide that. Unknown to us, there are two terminals, one domestic (Hartfield) and one international (Jackson) quite a distance apart. We ride a shuttle from the domestic terminal to the international terminal, which takes about 20 minutes. So we know we have to add that amount of time onto the travel time for the morning. We check in with no issues and then walk outside the terminal to catch the shuttle again and the lineup is HUGE. There must have been multiple flights arrive. So we queue up and people watch while waiting our turn. Fortunately, it doesn’t take too long before we are on a bus and on our way back to the domestic terminal and our hotel. 

In the morning we navigate the route to the international terminal, pass through security and get to the concourse just fine. We want to buy lunch for the flight as there is no food provided on the plane. Only three of the six food vendors in the food court are operating and the all the long lineups snake through the tables. Murray adds himself to the McDonald’s snake and I add to the much shorter Bistro snake. I am at the counter when Murray comes over to tell me they are boarding our flight, he has bailed on the McDonald’s snake and I tell him I have to have food! I move through the line as quick as I can and we scurry to the gate. Most of the passengers are on the plane already, but as we settle into our seats, more people keep coming down the aisle, so we are not the last on the plane. The plane is only about three quarters full.

Our departure time ticks by and then an announcement is made informing us the pilot is not on the plane and is enroute to the airport and we are to deplane. The plane will get too hot in the hour plus that we have to wait for the pilot. So, off we get. Travel mode.

Four hours later we are landing in Bonaire. The system they have there is amazing. Sort of like herding sheep. “Do you have a 24 hr COVID test? Go that way. Do you have a 72 hr COVID test? Go over there.” We went over there. Our Health Declaration form was checked and we were sent over to a line up outside a small building. The jovial fellow at the door was letting us in one at a time. This is the antigen test site and, boy, did they process us quickly. We are sent to a waiting area under a tent awning to await our results. The results came online and with not so robust WIFI it was an exercise in patience. As the folks at the front of the plane started to get results, we knew our turn was coming, and soon my results were up and then Murray’s. I had to take screen shots on my iPad to save them in order to show them to a lady so we could exit the waiting area and go through immigration. We cruise through immigration and right by all the people waiting for their luggage. It pays to go carry on.

We are in Bonaire and WE DID IT! The excitement is allowed to boil over now!

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