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Break for the Border

WITH TRINIDAD & Tobago’s national borders set to open on Saturday 17 July (if there are no last-minute political brakes for the border-opening) foreign travel becomes relevant to us again.

At least technically.

But it’s been so very long since any of us flew anywhere, most of us have forgotten how to do it.

As Trinidad’s most sensitive newspaper writer, then – excluding everything I say about politicians, priests, pastors & pundits, of course – it is my patriotic duty to provide this blow-by-blow guideline to reentering the age of jet travel.

To be able to fly away from Trinidad, then, the first thing you have to do is remortgage your house or sell your car, to meet the price of the ticket Caribbean Airlines is offering (such a tender word, for such a savage action; this “offering” is closer to “extorting”). After being effectively grounded since March 2020, the board apparently directed CAL to recoup the revenue lost over that period in the first weekend. A round trip from Barbados to Trinidad that used to cost US300 now costs US$1,500-plus.

One firetrucking way.

The second thing you have to do is sell or pawn the next most expensive thing you own now that you’ve lost your house or car, to defray the costs of mandatory hotel stays required in the new air travel. Accommodation costs will run you as much as or more than your overpriced ticket. And, if you’re going to England, your hotel costs are going to be higher than your ticket cost at a ten-to-one exchange rate.

Just to remind you how good you had it under BOAC.

You can reduce the inbuilt hotel-cost by flying, by staying the same time you would have to in an English hotel in a Barbados one. At least up to the time of writing, Barbados is on the British Immigration green list so you do not have to quarantine in a hotel upon arrival at London Heathrow.

Regrettably, Air BnB has not yet figured out a way to get all the governments involved at every stop of your journey to consider a stranger’s couch in each destination city secure enough accommodation for covid-19 transmission-reduction purposes. And hotels, reacting the way piranha do to blood in the water, have jacked up their prices.

So, as you say hello to the flight attendant at the top of the plane stairs, say goodbye to your children’s university fees/your retirement annuity/your new car.

The third thing you have to do is sell whatever of value you have left, if anything, to pay for the covid tests you’re going to have to take before you leave Trinidad AND when you land wherever you’re going. The in-person tests you take under government auspices are not extortionate, like the hotel rooms, but the ones in your destination city are a racket, something Tony Soprano might have thought up. Shop around for the cheapest and you’re still paying too much.

Private enterprise is far more important than public health, to the labs that do the testing, I suspect they don’t really give a flying firetruck how well or how badly you take your own nasal and throat swabs. (And you’re going to go easy on yourself, after the 24-48 hour-old state-sanctioned violence to your septum.)

If you wave the swab in the air and send it back to them with nothing on it at all, you’re likely to find that they, too, found nothing.

And put through your payment and move on to the next test subject/mark.

So it may actually be in your interest to NOT do the test properly.

Especially if you suspect you have contracted the virus and don’t want your trip to Disneyland ruined.

The last thing you have to do to fly from Trinidad is to practice mask-breathing, especially if you’re one of the moronic Trinis who feel that, once you eat yogurt, you don’t need masks, social-distancing or vaccines. Even if you don’t have to wear a mask when you land wherever you’re going, you will have to wear one for the full time you’re on the plane.

When you add up the costs, then, it’s not so much a case of “break for the borders” as “being broken by the border opening”.

But actual fiscal bankruptcy is a price worth paying to be away from the intellectually bankrupt, those legions of Trinidadian dunces who think they (and their Tantie Doris’ Facebook page) know more about the virus and the vaccines than Dr Fauci, the WHO and every medical person on the planet.

If you have to die from ignorance, it’s better that it isn’t homegrown.

BC Pires is in transit but would like to point out that he says unpleasant things about imams, too, he just didn’t want to firetruck with the alliteration of the third opening paragraph. Finally: Is wot: even in death, Resistance is never futile

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