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Sinai Has Been Closed For Over A Year Due To Covid-19. So Imagine My Excitement When They Reopened The Border Crossing!

We can’t just take off on the spur of the moment anymore. There is a new normal when it comes to travel. And it is an unwelcome development. Not only do we need our passport and the sunscreen, now we have to get a Covid test as well. But, we can try to make the best of the challenge!

One of my favorite “thinking” spots in Israel is in the Sinai. I head down there 2-4 times a year, and enjoy the opportunity it gives me to totally “disconnect”. I think about life, my business, my family and get hours and hours of uninterrupted reading time. I work remotely for a few hours in the morning and then my whole day is spent relaxing and pondering.

Usually when we go, I leave work late Thursday afternoon and drive to Eilat. There we cross Taba with the car, and get to our final destination (Dahab the last couple of times we were there) sometime around midnight. We reverse the trip on Monday or Tuesday afternoon (arriving home at midnight) and I head to work the next day. By the way, for some odd reason, none of our five children ever go to Sinai and quite frankly, they think that I am out of my mind……

Sinai has been closed for over a year due to Covid-19. So imagine my excitement when they reopened the border crossing! Granted it’s limited to just 300 people a day, with the border only open from 8am to 4pm, and a requirement to reserve places and tickets in advance. Nevertheless, my wife and I decided to go down for Independence Day weekend. We got tickets for that Thursday morning and after our Memorial Day services we headed out for Eilat. I had a hotel room booked for Thursday evening, and we planned to spend that evening at the beach until our Friday morning departure for Dahab.

Then – boom. On our way down to Eilat we got the results of my wife’s Covid-19 test (at the border with Egypt you have to have a negative Covid-19 test result just like other countries) and it was… inconclusive. Apparently, they hadn’t scraped enough biological material to get conclusive results. We were determined to get to Sinai so we called every available testing place and secured an appointment for four hours later in Assaf HaRofeh Hospital. It wasn’t cheap but I had already reserved everything in Dahab and I didn’t want to lose the reservation. Just then a clinic we had contacted in Eilat called us back. They were open until 11pm on Independence Day evening, they gave the test results in English, and their results were acceptable at the border! We made an appointment there, gave up our place at the hospital and continued straight to Eilat.

When we arrived, my wife jumped out of the car and headed into the clinic. Not 5 minutes later she came right back out, with tears in her eyes.

Apparently, the woman who made the appointment for us was a new employee and had given the wrong information. The first possible time we could do a test was Friday morning. But our tickets were only valid for Thursday which meant we had missed our window. There went our weekend. There went Sinai. There went my therapeutic disconnect.

My wife turned to me as we sat sadly in the car and asked, “Well what do we do now?”

This new normal excludes a spur-of-the-moment trip across any borders. We can’t hop down to the Sinai like we used to. People can’t just take last minute getaways to Greece. Or easily fly across the world to be with aging parents, or to welcome new grandchildren or share in simchas, a funeral, a shiva. With each country making its own rules and changing them frequently there is an element of stress added to travel that we’ve never experienced before.

But, I have never been one to dwell on the negative. With an eye on the silver lining of any situation, I always look for the opportunities. In our case, we had wasted most of Independence Day in pursuit of this darned Covid test, and couldn’t go back and celebrate with family and friends like we usually do. So I suggested to my wife that we call good friends and invite ourselves to spend the weekend with them. We had never done that before but we phoned anyway. They were thrilled to have us and we had a great time.

Since we were only supposed to return late on Tuesday, rather than just going back to work, I “hid out.” I didn’t update anybody that I was back. So, my office was still handling everything as if I was on vacation, and I was able to get a tremendous amount of work done. I got to take a real whack at my personal backlog in the office.

Moral of the story: life may not always go as planned, but rather than sulk – see how you can use the unplanned events to your best advantage.

Or in short, when life gives you lemons, make Limoncello – that delicious Italian lemon liqueur – it’s a lot more fun!

Jay Hait is a family law attorney specializing in divorce. You can download his complimentary e-books on divorce by visiting Jay Hait Law. Or email Jay directly at jay.hait@orcheidin.so.il or call Israel 077-200-8161 or USA 201-696-3947

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