Radio 2

Corona turns 3-week break into ‘holiday of a lifetime’

Ronald and Gerda, a couple from Evergem in East Flanders are stuck in quarantine at home after what can only be described as a holiday of a lifetime.  On 3 March they set off for Aruba, the Dutch island in the Caribbean, for a three-week break.  The corona emergency, however, meant they were away from home for six months.

The couple were supposed to stay with friends for three weeks, but ten days later Belgium went into lockdown and their holiday was extended indefinitely.  Their return flight was cancelled five times.  They were only able to board a return flight on 12 August.

“Aruba is a magnificent island and far less dangerous than Belgium as far as coronavirus is concerned.  We were lucky we could stay with friends and after 170 days in their company our friendship remains unscathed” says Roland.

“We were fortunate we were staying with friends as a hotel and restaurant bills would have been more expensive.  We did contribute to the costs and presented our hosts with a nice gift when we left”.

Gerda is diabetic.  In Belgium medicines and care are free, but in Aruba everything had to be paid for. The return flight at the height of the holiday season was more expensive too.

For six months friends and relatives had to look after the couple’s affairs in Belgium.  They communicated via WhatsApp and Zoom, but Roland missed direct contact.  His mother is in a care home and their grandchildren too were looking forward to the return flight and seeing their grandparents again.

Roland and Gerda are in quarantine now because their destination was outside Europe.  Luckily that will be over by 5 September when their daughter gets married! Some people have all the luck!

The couple says that even after six months they were not fed up with Aruba and plan to return next year.  It will be interesting to see how long that trip lasts.

Radio 2

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