When we arrived in Dubai, we found the Emirates desk, where they provided vouchers for a nearby hotel, which included a free meal. After a short wait, a van took us to the very nice hotel. It was wonderful to take a shower and crawl into the luxurious bed.
In the morning, we used our meal vouchers to get breakfast at one of the hotel restaurants. We got a kick out of the name of another restaurant in the hotel, Cactus Jack’s. When we lived in Uvalde, Texas there was a Cactus Jack’s restaurant there. The combination of a Tex-Mex restaurant and the middle eastern architecture was interesting.
When we got to the airport there was a further complication. Because our flight from Aukland to Honiara was not a regular scheduled flight, it was not obvious that we were just transiting New Zealand, whose borders are closed to non-citizens. Although we were holding transit visas for New Zealand, the airline ended up having to call New Zealand immigration so we could talk to an officer there to get the proper permit code for the airline to allow us on the flight. We were very thankful that we had arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare!
When we finally arrived at our departure gate, we caught up with our friends, Katena and Altruicia. They have been earning their masters degrees in Dallas and were on their way back home to the Solomon Islands where they serve on staff at a Bible school. They had traveled to Dubai via New York while we flew via Los Angeles. From Dubai, we flew to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Upon arrival in Kuala Lumpur, we sat on the plane for about 90 minutes while it was refueled and a new flight crew came on board. A few more passengers bound for Auckland joined the flight and we traveled on to Auckland.
When we arrived in Auckland, the Honiara-bound passengers were asked to disembark first. Once off the airplane, we met by New Zealand airport officials. We were lead to an isolated gate area in the airport. Medical personnel checked our temperatures and Covid tests from the USA as well as asking us questions about our health. Solomon Airlines agents insured everyone had the proper ticketing.
In Auckland, we met up with a colleague from Europe who was also returning to the Solomons. The 3 of us are the ‘guinea pigs’ for our group, as there are others that are eager to return to the Solomons as well.
The flight into Honiara was significantly more full than our other flights. There was no ‘social distancing’ here, though everyone was required to wear a mask and the crew took what precautions they could. Finally, we were on the last leg of the journey ‘home’!