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Traveling In Times of COVID

It felt good to finally put some stamps back on my passport. After months of quarantine, Guatemala finally opened up its borders and allowed comercial flights to begin operating. I had been praying for months that I would be able to go to my favorite places, New York and Vermont, especially during my favorite season... fall! If you are wondering how the trip was, then get ready because I will be giving you the load down of everything you need to know.

I flew with United Airlines, an airline that I fully trust and have been closely monitoring to see what protocols they have. My flight to the USA got moved several times - that perhaps was the most annoying thing of all, since I have been planning this for MONTHS. There was no explanation as to why the flight got canceled and then moved to a different day, and then a different time multiple times... I was just glad it was still scheduled. You are required to wear your face mask AT ALL TIMES, this is highly important and I am glad airports are enforcing this requirement. There are hand sanitizers everywhere, and they take your temperature when you get to the Guatemalan airport. Most of the restaurants and duty free stores are open at La Aurora, and they all have the right protocols. Now, what about COVID tests? They are not required to travel to the United States, but we decided to get them just to be safe - and to have them just in case anyone asked to see them.

We flew directly to Newark, and our first destination was Vermont - a state that has been doing phenomenally when it comes to containing the pandemic. Vermont has some guidelines in place if you are planning on visiting, you can't get there by public transportation unless you want to quarantine for 14 days once you get there. So, our alternative was to drive in a private vehicle. As long as you have been safe, you are allowed into Vermont without any problems. This was my first time EVER driving in the USA, and it was fantastic! The drive was 5 hours, but the foliage was worth the trip.

We finally arrived at the Turner's house and the reunion with my Vermont family was everything I was missing. It felt good to be back with some of by best friends! If you don't know already, Ali T, is one of my best friends and also a phenomenal singer - so the very first thing we did once we got to Vermont was go to one of her performances! Just like in Guatemala, people everywhere wear their face masks and respect the social distancing norms - but are allowed to take the masks off when at restaurants.

We had a few days before the rest of the gang joined us for the weekend, so we went to some familiar places to enjoy the fall activities they had to offer. We went to Cold Hollow Cider Mill, literally the best place to get apple cider and the legendary apple cider doughnuts! Pro tip: get an apple cider smoothie and spike it up with your favorite hard cider, you won't regret it!

Of course we had to stop at my favorite town, Woodstock! We walked around, enjoyed the beautiful weather and even went inside, for the very first time, to the Woodstock Inn! This is a beautiful hotel with a cozy and homey vibe - yet super sophisticated. Hey, maybe next year I could stay there for a night or two!

A new activity that I had been dying to do for years now, was go to a corn maze and this year I finally got to do it! If you don't know what a corn maze is: it's basically a labyrinth made out of a corn plantation. It started out pretty easy... but then we got lost and wandered around for a bit. Eventually we were able to find our way back and complete the maze in a little under 45 minutes! Don't worry about getting lost, the employees give you their number in case you do get lost for real haha. Next up... a haunted corn maze?! Maybe next year.

Finally the day came when we were all back together again, the whole friend group! Words cannot describe the amount of love and happiness we all felt when we were finally reunited. That night we celebrated by having some drinks and listening to throwback songs - it has been a while since I had a night like that. The next morning, hungover or not, we were all going for a hike! This was another new activity for me in Vermont and I was very excited because I was finally going to see with my own eyes the "Vermont Postcard image". The hike was a little rougher than we thought, mainly because of the drinking last night and the lack of real exercise any of us has gotten during quarantine... but the view at the top... IT WAS BREATH TAKING.

The following day we all went apple picking! I tried going apple picking several times, but every time I went it was too late into fall and there were no apples left. This time though, it was perfect timing! We filled up a bag and brought them home to bake an apple pie and watch... Hocus Pocus!

This was the perfect trip with all of my friends, it filled me with so much joy and love to be able to hug them again. This weekend showed that it did not matter how far we were from each other and if we did not speak every single day, our friendship is an everlasting one. Thank you Ali for hosting us and being an angel, I love you so so so much! And to my other friends: you make me happy and I cannot wait for our next adventure!

Now, it was time to go back to... NEW YORK CITY.

I was back in my city, in my concrete jungle, I was home. But things were not the same. I was greeted by empty streets, boarded up stores, and the feeling that I was entering a ghost town. I was in complete shock at how empty NYC was, I have never seen the city like this... ever. I mean, I was able to take pictures without a single person in my background... that is unheard of in New York! For the first few days, I stayed at the Moxy Times Square. A super cute and modern hotel with all the proper protocols! Something to take into consideration: when entering New York City you have to fill out a health form to determine if you have to quarantine or not. Moxy asked us to fill it out and show them our results.

Despite there being no people, we still decided to roam around and see some of NYC's iconic areas. Another thing that made me sad was to see that there were no musicals, like at all. Just like in Vermont, people have been taking social distancing and face mask use very seriously - and it made our trip so much safer!

A new place I went to in NYC was The Vessel, finally! I think I left the city just before they were about to open up this new piece of architecture. I am glad I was able to finally see it in person, it is more breathtaking in person than it is in pictures. Another spot I had not been before was the City Museum of New York City - which if you know, is a famous location because it's where they shot Gossip Girl! Since there was close to no people in the city, we also decided to go to the Oculus and get in a few pictures.

Of course the other great part about NYC is that I got to see some of my loved ones as well! Even if it was just for a bit. I actually stayed with my friend Lauren for the second half of our stay in NYC - thank you so so so much Lauren for being a phenomenal host!!

It was good to be back in NYC, I needed it. I am excited to go back when more things are open and musicals start to run again, and I promise to see the friends I did not get to see this trip. Thank you to all my friends that made this trip an unforgettable experience! I love you all.

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