Suriname is in South America, in the middle of the Guyana's
Leaving for Suriname allowed me the experience of traveling internationally amidst a pandemic. Unlike the USA the South American country in the middle of the Guyana’s, had a policy in place from the start. A very strict one at that.
Not only did I need to wear a mask during the whole flight, I needed to provide documentation that I was tested negative before I was even allowed on the flight. Besides that, I also needed to give up the address where I would quarantine for 10 days upon arrival.
Since this was an emergency, I was traveling for my dad’s farewell, I had permission to quarantine at a family residence. That meant that I needed to pay a security company to come checkup on me.
So, besides the usual ticket and passport, I needed:
- Tourist card
- Doctor’s statement (that my dad was ill/passed away)
- Permission to quarantine at home
- Security statement of the company in charge of my quarantine
- Negative PCR test
- Medical Covid-19 Checking forms
Jack Tours the travel agency I booked with was super helpful in getting this list in order. I don't recommend trying to do this on your own.
Getting a PCR test
The Covid test was a challenge. First, it had to be a PCR test, the only official test accepted by airlines. At the time I did mine, November last year, results would come back anywhere between 24 hours to a week. I only had a few days to catch my flight and the prices for these tests varied from free to $500. I kid you not.
Thankfully, Cumberland hospital in Brooklyn offered these tests totally for free and I got the results back in 2 days, just in time for my flight.
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Flying with a mask on
Due to the pandemic air travel was and actually is very restricted, so there were not many options to fly from New York to Paramaribo.
The only way was to get to MIA so SLM, Suriname’s national carrier, could take me to PBM, Paramaribo Airport in Suriname.
Flights were noticeably less crowded but other than that the procedures of checking in and boarding were pretty normal. The new era was unmistakably clear though; everyone was wearing a mask.
Wearing a mask for ten hours during travel honestly wasn’t even bad. You are allowed to take your mask down for eating and drinking.
Can’t say that I did have concerns though. What if someone on the flight had been infected or faked their results which happened before. What would be the chances of the rest of us getting the virus. Thankfully everything went well.
I arrived save and sound. I left a wintery New York to land early morning on the tropical airport of Zanderij.
Walking to down the steps of the plane out in the open air, I felt the familiar humid breeze of about 80 degrees. Even as I was grieving, it felt like a warm welcome.