This image does not look anything like Pennsylvania, and that’s because it’s taken along the Dender near where my mom lives. Just under four weeks ago I finally managed to make my escape from the US, and touch Belgian soil – first time back since 7 Jan. 2020. Miracles still exist, because the very next day after I got home, the news of Omikron (Omicron) broke. We all realised how just one small thing can throw off the plans that were in the works since mid-October, when the US government first gave a firm date for reopening its borders, allowing me to return after a potential visit to Belgium. The borders have remained open, but I feel the need to add “so far!”
I’ll need a few more miracles: as a Belgian citizen registered with the New York consulate, a Kafka-esque situation has developed around my e-ID. I was extremely lucky a friend extracted the piece of paper from my flat in the US with the PUK code. The alternative was to send the codes to… the US consulate where my ID is issued. But (see final paragraph below) I won’t be in the US for months and as a Belgian citizen I need the e-ID: to have my test results delivered before I can board a plane! Fortunately, that circular nightmare was avoided and after a trip to a nearby town hall the chip is activated. Now I need to find out where to correct my birth date for the Covid-safe ticket, because there’s no online option to do that. At least I’m not in a hurry to go out dining and wining. It’s also still a mystery to me how I can register in Belgium for my booster jab: the online registration sites don’t even allow me to register, because my domicile is not in Belgium.
But for now, I can enjoy a well-deserved break on home soil. After our fourth pandemic semester I can feel my batteries recharging, courtesy of the exquisite care from “the mothership”.
I don’t quite know when I’ll be back in the US, thanks to a borked immigration system that takes ages to deal with my visa, something that used to be a 2-week process. But mom and I are enjoying our time together, and for once it’s ok to have bureaucracy grinding to a halt.