Like so many others, my battle with the virus has left me exhausted, mentally drained, frustrated and wondering, “When will this ever end?!”
But unlike so many others, my Covid-19 struggle is not one of health but of bookings.
Although foreigners such as myself are still blocked from entry into China, that hasn’t stopped me from booking my return ticket. If there’s a sudden lift to the ban, I want to be ready before my visa expires on Sept. 30 so I can speed back to my Chinese college. With airlines now waiving re-booking fees due to uncertain times, it’s becoming easier to change flights. But booking a ticket and holding onto it has become more and more of a challenge. Our US airlines flying into China have had numerous cancelations or changes. This is due to ongoing restrictions from other countries not wanting Americans to enter their borders. Our ability to deal with the virus still remains a huge problem as cases and deaths continue to rise. My flight schedules have gone as follows:
February 11: Canceled. September 1: Changed. August 19: canceled. August 31: canceled. September 9: Canceled.
Several people, such as my mom, are wondering why I’m bothering making reservations. “Why not just wait until the ban is lifted and get a flight right away?”
There are several reasons for this:
- Flight availability: There are currently only 2 flights out of America a week on Delta and United. Delta is following guidelines of leaving vacant seats in between passengers to social distance. Their seats are completely booked now until close to December. United is all that’s left, and their seats are available at last-minute notice because (according to what I’ve been seeing) it seems they are not following recommended guidelines of keeping people apart. We are packed in like sardines.
- Cost: There is a crazy array of costs that change daily, weekly and even monthly on both United and Delta . What used to be affordable for people of low incomes such as myself have now catapulted to millionaire status, so it seems. Last-minute bookings are impossible for me to afford unless I want to completely empty both my savings and checking account. Let me give you what I’ve been contending with for the past 8 months
a). On June 23, I booked my $583 one-way ticket to China for Aug. 31.
b) On July 14, I changed to an earlier flight on August 19, recommended to me due to a 2-week quarantine needed and my visa expiration date. That ticket was the cheapest I could afford at $1,560 as compared to other offerings topping $3,500. (Yes!! One way and in economy!).
c) On July 8, I was informed the August 19 was canceled so I booked a second affordable ticket for $1,600 on Sept. 1.
d) On Jul 23, I was informed the Sept. 1 ticket was canceled. The next affordable ticket was Sept. 9, at $2,200.
e). Now Sept. 9 has been canceled, leaving me somewhat stranded. Why? Flights have now skyrocketed to $6,000 and up for economy, one-way, to China. Those prices seem to be holding steady until late October.
It doesn’t really matter at present being able to enter China because foreigners are still banned. And my visa will expire soon, meaning a last-minute dash to China will be out of the question. I will be starting the visa application from scratch. This takes several months, with a mandatory physical exam completion, official documents of invitation from my college and the Amity Foundation, forms to complete and appointments to be made at the Chinese Embassy in D.C. (Currently, that is the only place where visas are being processed. A majority of Chinese Consulates, including the nearest one to me in Chicago, is not open.)
Despite all the above frustrations, I trust that eventually, I will get back to my college. I have been told that the leaders are eager to have my return and are willing to process any visa requirements needed. I am now their only foreign language teacher, a role which I have treasured and cherished for 13 years. I would never abandon them, or my Luzhou church community, unless absolutely necessary.
Here’s wishing you 平安 (ping ahn, Peace) for your day as I hold fast to my 3 Ps: Patience, perseverance and positive thinking!
Keeping positive thoughts…..and knowing how this is not the 2020 anticipated by so many. Sending you an email
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| | | Connie, my heart really does go out to you! This is not the experience we anticipated…… You are doing a remarkable job of staying positive and upbeat. Know you have your moments. So glad you have your mom and a special home to be during this time of unknown. I knew flights were pricey, but I did not realize how much so until I read your note. My goodness! Having to start over with the visas process….that’s daunting in itself. Thank goodness for your school’s fondness of you and your efforts there.
We have been on a roller coaster here as well…… Don’s foot surgery went well, but he is not relieved of the ongoing discomfort anticipated. He’s trying to adjust his neuropathy meds and understands that the interior healing is continuing. He got a couple hours of sleep last nite.
Vic/Beth have been doing a dance….. Beth was offered a position at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, IN….so they headed there for a look see……campus, staff, and house hunting. On the way home to VA, Vic got an offer from Milsaps College in Jackson, MS. Beth is really wanted at Wabash and they are trying to help Vic find a position in the area….perhaps DePauw, but nothing solid. Milsaps is trying to see if they can unfreeze a library position for Beth, which was frozen back in June just after Beth applied. So I’m off tomorrow to meet Vic and Anna/Addie for 2 days for a look see in Jackson. I got a request this morning to bring my sewing machine to do some minor face mask repairs. My suitcase is packed…….have wipes, hand sanitizer, masks, and snacks to minimize contact on the road.
There were a few hours when I thought I was going to IN…..and my drive would have taken me right thru Marshall……I was all ready to call you and say……I’m coming thru and will treat you to a big ice tea with appropriate social distancing…..have to admit I was doubly disappointed when it was decided my services would not be needed and I would miss seeing you. However, it’s still a possibilities….so I’ll keep you posted…….Vic hopes to be ready to make an announcement by Monday.
Sweet Briar has 2 perhaps 4 COVID cases (2 are being tested)….. Mississippi is a ‘hot spot’, and Denton continues to add new cases. Hear this evening that UNC-Chapel Hill has reverted to online classes after only a week of having students on campus.FB was filled today here with pics of friends and family sending their kids and themselves back to school…..will see what happens in the next couple of weeks. If both V/B get jobs…..then we will be heading to them to care for the girls/home school them this term. Beth’s parents are the true teachers, but we are the ones who will pick up and go for a long term gig.
The cold spell that came in last evening…..was led by 60 mph winds…..did a number on my Zinnias….so did lots of clipping and staking this morning.
Am concerned about *45* and his attacks on WeChat…..I’ve really come to depend on it……folks use it and respond so much quicker…..and they share pics. Hope he doesn’t mess this up. Have gotten to help name a couple of new little boys this past week…..English names. There is a new Irving and 2nd one as yet undecided.
Richard in Fuyang says that they still don’t have a specific date for classes at the university……perhaps the 2nd week of Sept, but he indicted it was iffy.
I shared the “windows to the world” site with several folks…….really enjoy it myself. Thank you for sharing…..especially like the ones with ocean views.
Am writing this while listening to the Demo Convention…..I thought the intro was well done with the students. Noticed one of the singers was a Native American. Oh, I’ve been entertaining myself with Ancestry.com. Today I was following my mom’s side “Rogers”……last week I found a cousin she had been looking for back in 2000 when she came to live with Don and I in Austin. Denton Co is thick with family……within 30 minutes there are cemeteries filled with family……I know mom is doing a “happy dance” up above. So today 3rd cousin 1x renived, Olan Rogers VanZandt….was found and he served in as a TX Rep and Senator….from Tioga, TX…..a dot on the road just east of here. When I get back I’m going over to walk around and view stones for mom. So how goes your move?
Hang in there…..Hugs,Kate
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