Mr. & Mrs. MacGyver in Quarantine

Being locked away in a hotel for 3 weeks with just the basics has given us opportunity to come up with some creative solutions to some problems. Watch for more installments of  “Mr. & Mrs. MacGyver in Quarantine“.

Problem #1 Our rooms are quite dark. There is a window, but people walk past it and we wanted some privacy. 

The MacGyver Solution: Martha had a ‘lavalava’ (a Solomon-style sarong) that was about the right size to provide privacy while allowing light to enter from above. Fortunately, we had a couple of rolls of velcro ties that had been thrown in the suitcase at the last minute. We bunched up a bit of the curtain and the corner of the lavalava and pulled a velcro tie around them. The tie holds the lavalava in place and we can still open and close the curtains at night!


Quarantine Quarters


For the required 21 day quarantine, we are staying at the Pacific Casino Hotel. We had a limited number of places to stay and this hotel is quite close to our offices. Our colleagues can drop off things for us at the National Disaster Office for delivery to the hotel.

Unfortunately, we are finding that some things are not allowed – like mugs, plates, silverware. All our food comes in styrofoam boxes with plastic cutlery which is all going to be burned to diminish any risk of spreading Covid, if any of us test positive. 

We weren’t sure what to expect in regard to our room. Now that we are here, we thought others might be interested in seeing our quarantine quarters. The photos below provide you with a bit of a tour.

Our lounge room

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The photo is a little blurry, but then we were pretty blurry-eyed by that time as well!


Except for the residue of sunset on the western horizon, it was dark when we arrived in Honiara. It had been raining earlier in the day, so it felt extra muggy as we exited the plane. The high humidity feels like you are walking into a greenhouse.

Honiara does not have jetways.  Instead, passengers exit the plane, walk down stairs that have been rolled up to the airplane, and walk across the open tarmac to the terminal. We were glad that the rain had stopped.

Once off the plane, medical personnel stationed outside were waiting for us. There was yet another form to fill out and then we had to wait a good 20 minutes while passengers were ushered into the building a few at a time. 

Medical personnel asked us questions, checked our Covid test results and collected the forms we had filled out. A box on a table read, ‘place passports here‘. I was unprepared for that! It felt funny to ‘toss’ our precious passports into a box with a pile of other passports, but it was part of the protocol. They promised we will be reunited with our passports at the end of the 3 week quarantine.

Baggage claim was the next step and it didn’t take us too long to find our bags. We were thankful to see all 3 bags had made it through to Honiara safe and sound and without any additional charges! Customs officials were collecting the regular form that passengers fill out and we made our way to the exit.

At the curb, a flat bed truck was waiting to receive luggage. Tim loaded our luggage on the truck and we were directed to board a small bus for transport to the hotel. It was the 2nd bus in the queue and there were a couple more behind.

We sat on the bus while the rest of the passengers were processed, which took a while. Finally, when all the passengers were on board the buses, the caravan of the truck with the luggage and the buses slowly pulled out and on to the highway. We made quite the procession from the outskirts of town to the hotel with the yellow emergency lights flashing.

Because it was humid, the bus windows were steamed up. I peered through the windows trying to recognize landmarks, but through the blurry windows, it was challenging. 

The caravan arrived at the hotel and snaked through the parking lot and around behind the hotel to a parking area. The truck with the luggage drove up to the building and the first bus backed into an narrow alley between hotel buildings. The rest of the buses waited. We had no idea what was going on.

The radio on the bus was playing and at the airport we had heard the 8:00 pm news. When the 9:00 news came on, we realized that we had been on the bus for more than an hour. 

Eventually, bus#1 came out and our bus drove into the same area between buildings. One at a time, we were asked to get off the bus to be interviewed by another set of medical personnel. They filled out more forms and then we were given the first of four required Covid tests. 

After we had done that, we were walked to our hotel room. We had reserved an upstairs room with a balcony and a sea view, but apparently the Covid committee had decided the day before to rearrange the rooms and put all the arrivals from ‘high risk’ countries on the first floor. 

We were disappointed to not be in the room we expected, but at that point, we were thankful to be in our room and at the end of a long journey. From DFW Airport (Dallas) to our room in Honiara was about 68 hours.



The flight to Dubai was uneventful. It was nice to be able stretch out across 3 seats and get some sleep. 

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’!