I leave in the evening with Robert who is driving me to the airport. Traffic that direction is bad in the evening, so we leave 3 hours ahead. We move through the stop and go traffic till we are on the outside of Monrovia about an hour later. For the remaining drive we are able to go 40-80mph. Honking scatters people and animals off the road, so is done very frequently. Arriving at the airport, we approach the large metal gate. A guard questions why we are there. After taking each of our temperatures by pointing the thermometer at our foreheads, we are permitted to enter the airport area. We drive up to the terminal and unload my bags on the ground. Next Robert parks the car and helps me carry my bags up to where there is another person in a gown, mask and gloves to take my temperature again. I am asked to fill out a questionnaire, wash my hands with chlorine, then enter with my bags. At the entry to the baggage counters, another person takes my temperature and I wash my hands in chlorine water again. They review and take my questionnaire. Next I take my bags to the check in counter and get my boarding passes. I’m about 1.5 hours ahead of time. I go through security and wait in the boarding area. Going through security, the security lady asks to look in my carryon. She pulls out my falafel sandwich. She says it’s not permitted to take food in, and asks what I want to do. I said “eat the sandwich”, so she puts it back in my carryon and I go on in with it. Later I eat my sandwich with much appreciation of the flavors. The time comes, and we board the plane. I am so thankful to be leaving Monrovia, being in good health.
In Belgium, our temperatures are checked as we exit the jet way. We turn in another questionnaire that we were given on the plane. We are then shunted outside security, and I have to go through it again to re-enter. I find my terminal and gate then wait about 6 hours till my flight. I watch a number of movies on the plane and eventually sleep a half hour or so.
Arriving in Newark, we walk to immigration. Someone is there reviewing passports and asks where I’m coming from. I know they want to know Liberia, so I say this, even though Belgium was really where I was coming from at the moment. They send me down a side hall to a small room. Behind the counter are immigration officials who ask that I stand beyond a ribbon about 8 feet away from them. She is wearing a face shield, mask and has gloves on as she types information into her computer. She asks a series of questions, which are similar to what I’ve filled out on previous forms. They ask about personal sickness and symptoms in detail, about contact with Ebola patients or dead people. After my answers they decide I need more questioning by CDC personnel. One of the officer’s gowns up in full bunny suit PPE to take me down the hall where I meet two CDC people in a small room with three chairs. I sit down and they ask more questions. They call their hierarchy and eventually decide I am safe to continue my travels. They show me to another desk where I receive a phone and a packet of information on Ebola and how to do the monitoring and am told to contact my health department in the morning. I am taken back to a different immigration area and they take my passport and do the usual things I recheck my baggage to continue on and find my next gate. My flight is cancelled. So at the desk I find I’ve been rerouted to make it home about 3 hours after expected. After about 35 hours of travel I arrived back to meet my beautiful wife and very happy dog, for the drive home. The following morning I meet with the health department to set up the monitoring situation. All are very helpful and pleasant.
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