February 17, 2020
I BOARDED THE HOLLAND AMERICA WESTERDAM 17 DAYS AGO. Sorry, my caps lock must have been stuck.
SCUTTLEBUTT: My new ship-turned-hotel-refugee-BFF, Judy Barr, who has been in ‘quarantine’ in a Phnom Phen hotel for the last two days with her husband and a ton of other Westerdam guests, tells me that yesterday some Westerdam guests left the hotel against orders, headed to the airport on their own and tried to board flights home. Nope. They were denied and sent back to the hotel. My second source confirming the rumor was a random guest here onboard the ship at lunch while she scooped chicken tikka onto her ginormous plate. Again, Scuttlebutt. (But it doesn’t surprise me someone tried to make a break for it. We are starting to go a little crazy)
Which brings me to the most important question: Have our passports been flagged and are we on an international no-fly list until this is all sorted out?
If so, my plan to jump overboard and make a swim-for-it will not turn out the way that I have envisioned. Nor will my plan to scale down the side of the ship using balconies, until I get to the hawser lines and tight-rope-walk to the bollard, jump onto the dock with a face mask on, and just walk out of here like all of the other embassy staff or dock crew that come and go as they please from the jetty. I have devised three other plans as well. I watch ‘Seal Team’ on CBS…so I know what I’m doing.
Around 7:30 this morning, two government helicopters landed on our dock and offloaded… I don’t know…Military? Government workers? Embassy staff? Let’s just call them people. But it wasn’t until almost 10am when the Captain came on the loud speaker and explained they were from the Cambodian government. We were waiting for the medical staff to finish at Judy’s hotel, fly here (their helicopter, the third one now on our dock, is pictured above), set up and begin testing us later today. So, guess what we do? Are you all with me now? Ok, in unison… WE WAIT. That’s right. We wait.
I am a pretty thick skinned person, have been in a few significantly dangerous situations while traveling in the world (my third favorite was having an assault rifle pulled on me at the Columbian border on my way to a tree-huggin’ eco-lodge in Ecuador), and not much really bothers me. I’m adventurous, yet cautious. Smart, but not cocky. I think I have a pretty good grasp on how to travel around the world and get myself out of nearly every situation thrown at me. (If you knew my #2 and #1 dangerous situation, you would understand) This? This is very different. I have ZERO CONTROL over what happens to me. NONE. I can’t leave the ship. My passport may or may not have been flagged, even if I tried to get off without approval. We get very little information regarding WHEN we will get home (Because Holland America Corporate is the one making all the decisions, not people onboard this ship) I can’t book my own boat, tuk tuk, car, or plane to get home. I can’t do anything! Money means nothing. We are literally trapped here and at the mercy of Cambodian authorities! Cambodia. Not the United States. Cambodia. The Captain keeps saying that we have the United States Embassy involved, but really? Then get me on a military plane and GET ME THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!
I am officially not ok with this situation. Being helpless? not my jam.
Liz: Not happy.
I was on Deck 3 midship earlier, while visually planning my escape, and it dawned on me that I could easily jump from that open atrium, grab that crazy looking chandelier in the center of the ship and start swinging. For fun. Just for fun, because I have done absolutely everything else on the ship that I can think of, except this. You know what happens when the testing monkeys break out of their cages but are still stuck inside the laboratory? I think I’m going to do it, and I’ll play Sia from my phone as inspiration.
6:00 pm: All guests aboard the ship were tested for the coronavirus. A q-tip shoved up the nose, down the throat, and our temperature taken. The samples are currently being flown by helicopter to the testing center in Phnom Phen. Now, we wait. All of the crew will be tested tomorrow morning.
It may take two days to get the results. Then, it may take a few days to get our flights home.
Fingers crossed I make it home in time for my first student tour of the season. I have 10 days left.
More to come….