Staycation, by Rachel TorresTyler Torres

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From a real-time diary posted on Reddit by newlyweds Rachel and Tyler Torres, who were quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, off the coast of Japan, following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. The account details the couple’s evacuation and subsequent quarantine on a U.S. military base in San Antonio.

february 15, 2020

4:00 pm japan standard time: We have been informed by the U.S. Embassy that there will be two chartered evacuation flights from the Princess. We will depart tomorrow night should we decide to go. My wife and I are concerned. We will be on a flight in close quarters, for twelve hours or so, with potential COVID-19 cases. We called the embassy. They said that the flight will not be pleasant, as we’ll be required to keep N95 masks on the entire time. They said that living conditions in the U.S. will be similar to a motel/training camp for military recruits. We have decided to take the flight, to get back on American soil before travel becomes too difficult. We might land in Texas! I wonder if Uber Eats delivers to military bases—Whataburger, anyone?

february 17, 2020

2:10 am: We made it to the plane!

3:47 am: When leaving the bus, a CDC guy whose glasses were fogged up asked us to make sure we had the right passports. We laughed, then asked, “Which plane do we get on?” He said, “I dunno, just get on!”

4:23 am: People are asking where we are flying. The CDC guy on the plane told us, “I don’t know where we’re going, but I know it’s in the United States!”

5:23 pm: Someone was just taken into the isolation area of the plane due to a high fever.

5:24 pm: Another person has been taken.

6:00 pm: Just used the bathroom—it’s flushing with straight pee now. It seems to be full.

4:00 am central standard time: Landed in Dallas, Texas. Lots of clapping and cheering!

4:05 am: UPDATE. We are actually in San Antonio. We checked our GPS and noticed that it wasn’t Dallas.

7:24 am: Made it to the base! We share a bathroom with another room.

12:40 pm: The AC in our room is broken unfortunately. But it turns out we have the other room, too! Guess which air conditioner is working? We just pulled a switcheroo.

february 18, 2020

7:00 am: The AC in the new room went out.

february 22, 2020

2:46 pm: I just got a call from my dad, in Hawaii. He let me know that my great-grandmother’s condition continues to decline. It’s not looking great.

10:38 pm: I just received a call from my mom. I was hoping to get out of quarantine in time to see my great-grandmother one last time, but she has passed. I will miss the funeral.

february 24, 2020

12:00 pm: Lunch! Chicken cordon bleu with mashed potatoes, vegetables, and some cake. We also got all of our laundry washed—the only thing missing was some underwear.

4:50 pm: WHATABURGER! Everyone got Whataburger. Finally got that patty melt!

march 2, 2020

11:00 am: It’s looking like we will get out today.

2:41 pm: Someone just tried to hop the fence.

2:54 pm: Another person is trying to escape. Lots of yelling.

9:21 pm: We are now free to stay or leave. If we leave the base, the CDC has no control, and we may be quarantined by the city of San Antonio, or by the county. We will just have to trust that we won’t be detained by the local authorities.

11:44 pm: Rachel and I decided that we should try to make it home tonight. Our plan is to go downstairs, exit the quarantine zone, take a shuttle over to the gate of the military base, be dropped off just outside, be picked up by a friend whose name we won’t disclose, rent a car, and drive out of the county.

march 3, 2020

1:46 pm: We made it out, and should be in the clear! We were thinking that we wanted to keep driving, so we wanted a snack. WHATABURGER!

6:07 pm: We made it to our apartment! It’s so strange to be home. We just noticed that if you google “honeymoon,” we are the top search result.

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