The numbers of COVID-19 cases across the globe are on the rise and several countries are under strict lockdown to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. While most of us are in the comfort of our homes, there are many who are stranded miles away from their families. So, before you think ki kaash Goa me phasey hote, read about this South African couple, who are literally stuck in paradise, but not enjoying any bit of it.
Newlyweds Olivia and Raul De Freitas reached the Maldives on March 22 on what was supposed to be their six-day honeymoon, but they are now trapped on an unending holiday at a five-star resort. The couple left for the islands only after being reassured by their travel agent that they would be able to return home despite growing concerns over COVID-19-travel restrictions.
As South Africa announced a strict lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus, the honeymooning couple were informed on March 25 that their country’s airports will be closed the next day by midnight. Even if they managed to book a flight immediately, they would have to take a one-and-half-hour speed boat ride to the main island, then a five-hour flight to Qatar, a three-hour halt and finally a nine-hour flight to Johannesburg. As there was no way that they could make it there on time, they decided to stay back.
They got stuck in the five-star resort all ALONE with the entire staff at their service 24X7. The ‘room boy’ checked on them five times a day and the chefs made them elaborate candle-lit dinners on the beach. Being stuck with your special one alone on a beautiful island with five-star services might sound really great, but was it really? “Everyone says they want to be stuck on a tropical island until you’re actually stuck. It only sounds good because you know you can leave”, Olivia said.
For Olivia (27), a teacher and her husband Raul (28), who is a butcher, this holiday was an extravagance. While she said that getting the extra time together is great but what about the added expenses!? Even though the couple has been given a hefty discount by the resort, where prices begin at $750 (approx Rs 57,000) per night, the growing bill is burning a hole in their pockets.
The honeymooners also tried contacting the South African Consulate in the Maldives and the South African Embassy in Sri Lanka for assistance. A WhatsApp message came as a relief to them when they were informed about 40 other South Africans being stranded throughout the Maldives. But for the group, the best bet for getting home was to hire a chartered jet, paid for themselves. The cost? $1,04,000 (approx Rs 79,00,000).
Paradise amidst a pandemic looks a lot different, right? We hope that Olivia and Raul among others stranded in different countries can soon reach their destinations as there is no place more comforting than our homes.
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