MAY 9, 2021 - Savannah Rhoades
Today was the travel day. In order to get to Curacao, we had to complete a PCR COVID test within 72 hours of our flight which we needed to fill out a Passenger Locator Card or PLC and we needed a digital immigration card as well as a printed copy of our negative PCR test. In the U.S., PCR tests take between 3-5 days and no one offers the same day or 48 hours for free. I used CVS for my initial test and took it just under 72 hours to give myself plenty of time for the results to come in (and the site said they would). So I go and complete my test and am awaiting my results and they never come. The day before the trip comes around and I still haven’t received the PCR and at this point, I don’t know what to do. Most other students had theirs done by USF, but because I do not live anywhere near Tampa (about 4 hours away actually) I could not.
As Saturday night hit, I kept refreshing my results and they just aren’t showing up. Throughout that day I called multiple times and couldn’t receive any help. All the while I was updating study abroad that there was a very real possibility I would not be in this fight. Around 2:30 AM I woke up from a nightmare about this whole situation and became determined to solve my problem. I went to work and found a rapid 30-minute test at 7:10am and booked it. It was VERY pricey but I was not missing that flight.
We stopped and did the test on the way to the airport, and once I received the PCR result I went and filled out the passenger locator card on my laptop using my hotspot. I finished just in time, booked my three-day antigen test, and emailed myself copies. I called to the hotel nearest to the airport and got permission to come in and print. I printed everything at the hotel and headed to the airport. I had about an hour and 45 minutes and I made it to the gate with about 30 to spare. It was definitely an adventure, but I’m glad I was able to make it to Curacao because I know this trip will be unforgettable!
The authors of this blog are students enrolled in Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation, field courses run in the Caribbean by the University of South Florida. In 2019 and 2021, the course went to the Carmabi research station in Curaçao and dived around the island over a 10-day period, for training and to carry out research projects. In 2018, the group went to Soufriere, Saint Lucia, and took part in various projects in partnership with the Soufriere Marine Management Association. In this blog, students will document their activities and how they relate to course material.