Pandemic Experience

 Thank you Steve.  We are glad you made it back to the USA and could share your story with us.

 

STEVE PENCE
COVID EXPERIENCE IN EUROPE

I just finished reading Greg Meister‘s summary of his journey to Haiti and was reminded that Les Ehrsam asked me to write a little something about my travels. That was nine months ago at our Christmas luncheon at the Pine Valley country club (thanks Patty and Gary Lydy). Sorry for the delay Les, but I was traveling :-)

Marie-Eve and I see our daughter, son-in-law and grandkids in France each year. Our granddaughter was finishing her senior year abroad in Rome and our son was doing a walkabout in Turkey so we thought we would all meet someplace in France.  We planned six weeks, made all reservations and landed in mid-March, along with, you guessed it COVID-19 warnings throughout Europe.

After one week, the warnings turned into official French public health dictates. My daughter and family had to sign statements of purpose for leaving their house even to walk the dog. The fine for nonobservance was 100 Euros first offense and 1000 for the second.

So, we decided that we should go to Germany and do some genealogy. The Pence family came over from Germany in 1749 on a boat called the Phoenix. They had lived in Böhl-Iggelheim, a small town not far from Heidelberg. So we went to the cemetery there but could find no tombstones. We did talk to some very helpful Germans but decided to return the next day as it was getting dark. Approaching Heidelberg, The traffic was still going 100 mph but there was something different, very few cars. Market Platz was almost empty, so we did the respectable thing and had some beer which, of course, made us hungry. The meal that we ate was just outstanding and the service supreme....but the restaurant was empty except for us. They even played Frank Sinatra‘s “Stangers in the Night”. Mon Dieu...quelle ambiance!   Next morning, CNN......German borders are closed indefinitely starting today! We tried to cancel our reservation for the next three days but were not reimbursed. In all fairness, the hotel said it would credit our account the next time we came.

At any rate, we got into our Peugeot and hightailed it back to Paris at 90 mph. The US had canceled our flight home to Indy. We had to find another which we did after much angst and accompanied many study-abroad students back to the states.

I’ve been in riots between Sunni and Shia medical students in Pakistan, post Six Day War shooting in Jerusalem and I’ve landed in Istanbul with no lights and put up in houses of ill repute in Beirut, but I have never feared being kept out of the US until last May. I bet my great great great etc. grandfather is rolling over in his grave knowing that His great great etc. grandson couldn‘t find him.😂 

Hope everyone is coping with Covid; all the best and remember the 60th is only three years away.

 

Steve