• Long Haul Travel Mom

Our COVID Story- Part 1- The Beginning

1st January 2020. We were happily living in China.

14th of January 2020, I flew solo with my 2 year old and 4month old. From Beijing, China to South Africa via Shenzhen, for my mom‘s wedding.

I had to leave before my husband, because although my youngest (Ayla) was born in China, we were unable to get her a residency permit like ours. (Not mentioning she had already had a trip to the UK)

None the less between a lot of jet-lag sleeping, we managed to get Ayla’s S1 visa and were heading to CapeTown to meet up with my husband.

Our Johannesburg to CapeTown flight, is now known as our last ‘mask-free’ flight. The photo of me with the girls on the plane, was taken by the lady sitting next to me. She apologised and said it was just so beautiful. I appreciate this photo so much now.

Meanwhile my husband was still in China, he was told to get to the airport 4 hours earlier to do a COVID screening (at that time, it was just a temperature check)

My husband (Dave) got out the car at the airport in China, with no marks on. The poor driver felt sorry for him and gave him a whole packet of masks for the flight. My husband flew via Doha to Cape Town. Once out of China there was no sign of COVID.

We spent two weeks in captivating Simons Town (I am sure I’ll do a blog soon on travelling to Simons Town). Whist trying to enjoy the beauty around us, the reality of COVID was becoming very real. We were following the cases in China so closely, they jumped from 200 to 600 people. I remember saying to my family, this is going to be big and them laughing, saying it’s just going to be another SARS story.

31st January We enjoyed a great colourful wedding in CapeTown and were due to fly back to China on the 6th Of February

2nd February our return flights were cancelled and the nightmare began.

2nd Feb- 5th March. We managed to stay with family, friends and guesthouses in and around CapeTown, just encase our return flights opened up. In travel talk we road tripped in a tiny hired orange Datsons 1000cc, for a month with a toddler and a baby. Dealing with potting, weaning and life on the road

5th March- it was real, our flights where not going to magically appear and we needed to make a plan. So we headed to Pretoria where I had some family we could stay with. Our plan was for the girls and I to stay in Pretoria, and for Dave to head back to China.

14th March- we realised the girls, being on UK passports, visitor visas where about to expire. So we headed to Swaziland (a quick jump across the board to get them renewed.)

Sunday 4pm in the hotel room in Swaziland. I said to Dave, “I have a feeling South Africa is going to close their borders tonight, when the president does his State of the National speech”. My heart stopped for a second. Then raced, we packed and were in the car within an hour. (Kids dinner and all)

7pm we were in South Africa, at a service station, listening to the Presidents speech.... All the land borders where closed with immediate effect.

We headed back to Pretoria in absolute shock. Luckily of my family’s farm there was, what I like to call ‘an abandoned farm shed conversion’ available for us to stay in.

16 March 2020 - There was serious panic buying!

17th March- We enrolled Zoe at school. We were okay, we settled in, embraced the farm life and we were going to wait out the storm.... how bad could it be.

23 March 2020 - I took this screen shot

I will soon post part 2- The apocalypse

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