Thursday, March 19, 2020

Plan Ahead

Palermo, Sicily
Saturday, March 14, 2020

Palermo, Sicily

I've been locked down in Palermo for five days and am booked on a flight out this afternoon, hoping to stay ahead of looming border closures.    I'll be taking three flights to get to my final destination, Chiang Mai, Thailand, passing through four airports in Italy, Germany, and Thailand.

I am going through my flat, deciding what to pack and what to discard.   My clothes have been washed in hot water and zipped into packing cubes.  I've thrown away everything that isn't essential or could be contaminated.  At the last minute, I grab two huge bags of pasta from the kitchen and shove them into my suitcase, thinking of the 14-day quarantine ahead.

Finally, I make a small pile of things I'll need between here and home--especially things to protect me and others on the plane and at airports.  Those go in my backpack:

  • Masks 
  • Rubber gloves
  • Goggles
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Tissues
  • Plastic bags (for used masks, gloves, and wipes)
  • Baggies for documents
  • Medication

It Takes a Village

When my email itinerary arrives from Lufthansa, I forward it to the juristic office at The Shine Condominium, where I live, to a neighbor, and to three friends from All Saints Chiang Mai, my church.  I reach out to the juristic office and the church and tell them I need help.

My priest finds a volunteer to stock my refrigerator in advance of my arrival, my housekeeper gets
my apartment ready, and the workers in the the juristic office offer suggestions for making the next
two weeks easier:
  • Why don't I transfer money from my current account at Bangkok Bank so they can set up a
    petty cash account for paying my expenses, utilities, delivery fees, and tips, they ask.  Good idea!
  • Would I like to have two hot meals delivered every weekday?  They can set it up.  Yes please.  They make the necessary arrangements with Greens Clean and pay the 1,000 baht weekly cost out of my petty cash fund.  (I always wanted to be a trust fund baby!) 
  • DM us on LINE when you're running low on water and we'll send up a case (50 baht).  Nice!
  • And let us know if you need anything else.  "We're here for you."  

When I arrive Sunday night, I put on fresh gloves before entering the building, use my knuckle to push the elevator button, wrap a clean tissue around the door handles, and stip everything off as soon as I'm inside my apartment.  The mask, tissues, and gloves go in a plastic bag and everything goes out to the balcony.  My shoes, the clothes I'm wearing, my suitcase, my coat--everything.  I take a long, hot shower and crawl into bed.

Now the easy part begins--a self-imposed, 14-day quarantine.

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