Rachel S Travels with a COVID Vaccine Part II: The Return of the Chicktern

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Recently I wrote about my experience finally leaving the country after a year of global lockdown. I have since returned from my trip to Iceland several krónur poorer and still without COVID, and I am here to recount the harrowing* experience of returning through U.S. Border Check in the era of COVID-19.

*To be fair, it’s always harrowing because the most unpleasant of people work at TSA and border security. I’m pretty sure it’s part of the application process: “Check here if you hate your life and look forward to taking out your frustration over the lack of control you have over your own fate on hapless travelers.”

About halfway through my stay, I received an email from Delta Airlines informing me that I HAD to provide proof of a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of travel or they’d kill me. That might not be word for word what the email said, but it might as well have been.

So I asked where one gets a COVID test and Mauricio, a very talented comedian and probably the only Dominican living in Iceland, sent me a website and an address. I clicked around for about 15 minutes on said Icelandic government website trying to find out where the hell I’m meant to make the appointment, until I finally made it to the right page and was asked to pay 70.000 FREAKING KRÓNUR (~$70) for this COVID test! After I already singlehandedly revived Reykjavík’s tourist economy!

I rolled in to a very inconveniently located facility at around 8:55 for my 9:00 appointment to find out that the appointment times were very loosely adhered to, if they existed at all, as I took my place in a line out the door that seemed excruciatingly long until I looked behind me halfway through: Americans in their neon-colored waterproof gear as far as the eye could see.

On a side note– my friends all commented on how they were seeing (and hearing) American tourists again for the first time in many moons. Nature heals herself. It’s truly beautiful.

So we went from crowding in a line outside to being asked to social distance by 2 meters once we got inside. Eventually you get to a reception area where they want to see– you guessed it!– another f*cking barcode, and then you were allowed to go find a Viking to swab your nose.

My Viking was very pleasant and as awkward as I was so I feel like we bonded as he shoved a Q-tip down my throat and used another one to stab my brain. That being said, I feel like I have an intimate connection with everyone who’s given me a COVID test, on account of the fact that they’ve all stabbed my brain.

A few hours later, I got an email with an official letter stating that I do not have the ‘Rona. Hip hip hooray! Which meant I could return to Delta’s website and fill out their little form pinky promising that not only do I not have the ‘Rona, but I could PROVE that I don’t have the ‘Rona.

The next day, I went through border security at Keflavík International Airport, got on a plane to JFK, went through THEIR border security, got in the TSA line (I forgot that you had to go through security again and I’d bought a big ass bottle of water in Keflavík, so I drank that entire son’bitch in the span of like 45 seconds), went through TSA security, and got on another plane which went to another airport where I got off and onto a taxi.

Guess how many people asked to see my $70 PDF stating I do not have the ‘Rona?

ZERO! ZERO PEOPLE CARED TO SEE PROOF OF MY $70 COVID TEST. Biggest waste of money ever. And I paid someone once for a medal that says “I have been in Iceland” because I thought it was funny, so I know a thing or two about wasting money.

But, on the plus side, I finished a short story, started another one, had some moderately successful stand up gigs, saw a volcano, and had a glass of Víking Rökkr after they had previously discontinued it. So all in all, it was a pretty good trip, and despite the extra little hurdles related to COVID, I would do it again.

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