Getting from point A to point B is not always as easy as it sounds.
Yesterday, we got tripped up by COVID-19 testing requirements.
If you missed our Diary on Friday, we’ll bring you up to speed.
We’re on our way down to Nicaragua — partly for business, partly for pleasure. To get into the country, you need to prove that you’re COVID-free.
We’d been tested twice — including a rapid test on Wednesday. We thought that would soothe the fears of Nicaragua’s government.
And maybe it would have. But we never got there to find out.
Instead, it was the airline — Avianca — that stopped us. They said they had no record of our test results.
We had a few hours before the plane took off, so we rushed from Miami Airport to a nearby clinic that promised a quick test turnaround.
The test centre was a drive-through. We were in a cab, but the driver — Haitian, speaking Creole on his cell phone as he drove — was patient.
The building had been a bank with drive-through tellers. The cab parked in the shade. We got out, sat in a metal chair, and endured the nasal swabbing.
‘That’s $200,’ the tester informed us. ‘And our credit card machine isn’t working. We can only take cash.’
It seemed fishy to us…but what do we know?
They all had their surgical outfits on. For all we knew, they were doing a lively trade in body parts as well as pretending to do COVID tests.
The whole thing took less than five minutes. And then we headed back to the airport, where we awaited the results by email.
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Not on the list
About an hour later, the report came in…this one, like the previous two, found no evidence of the dreaded plague.
We wondered: How did they get the results so fast? Was the test legit?
But this is the Age of Miracles. And we had no time to wonder. We had to get on an airplane. We sent the results to Avianca so we could be approved for travel.
Alas, something went wrong. No response.
Arguing with the ticket agents did no good. They merely reported that we weren’t ‘on the list.’ The plane to Managua, if it left at all, took off without us.
So, we are still in Miami. And now, with time on our hands, we wonder…
…about what a ‘golden age’ we enjoyed up until 2001…
The US was on top of the world…numero uno by almost any measure.
We could go almost anywhere, almost anytime…
There was no TSA…no security checks…no temperature checks…no face masks…no COVID tests.
We recall once leaving on a trip around the world with only 24 hours’ advance notice…and only $6 (and a credit card) in our pockets…
We were confident that we wouldn’t have any trouble getting money…food…lodging…and transportation.
And we were right. We could travel to Paris…Bombay…Melbourne…
And everywhere, Americans were welcomed. People smiled. Ticket agents smiled. Stewardesses smiled and served drinks. Hotel clerks smiled. Waiters smiled.
Smiling was how you got along with others…it made you feel good and put others at ease.
Now, nobody smiles. Nobody. Nowhere. Nohow.
Instead, they all go about with ‘face coverings’…some with freaky designs…some industrial-strength germ-strainers…some just the standard surgical masks…
Many are even doubling up…with two-ply masks…just to make sure no smile escapes.
And some add plastic face shields, another level of protection against a dangerous outside world.
Restaurants are likely to be closed. Flights are cancelled. Plans are put on hold…weddings delayed…meetings postponed…
And see how easy it is to get booted off ‘the list’!
Yesterday, we reported on what appears to be the first drop in IQ scores ever. Until now, each generation — as measured by standardised IQ tests — got a little smarter (or at least, better able to take the tests).
This intelligence creep is known as the ‘Flynn effect’, named after James R Flynn, the intelligence researcher who first noticed it.
We don’t know who will put their name to the current trend — stupidity creep — but it is surely a phenomenon worth noting.
We write to you from the ‘Margaritaville’ bar and restaurant, the only one open to us in this part of the airport.
It is no wonder people aren’t thinking as clearly as they used to — with so many distractions, it’s amazing that they can think at all.
Loud, mindless music blares from overhead speakers. And three TV screens — each with its own sort of drivel — beckon to us.
The biggest one, directly in front of us, seems on an endless sports loop…another might be showing a Spanish-language soap opera — a telenovela. And god knows what’s going on on the third screen.
Can anyone hold a thought for more than a second amid all these distractions? Can you have a proper conversation? Write a poem? Compose a verse? Understand fake money?
Constantly distracted always interrupted…regularly fed a diet of fake news and insipid commentary, is it any wonder we can no longer think straight?
A year ago…people could at least still smile at one another.
Now, that simple pleasure, too…is gone.
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