Belgian couple stuck in Aruba for six months because of lockdown
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    Belgian couple stuck in Aruba for six months because of lockdown

    Credit: Walter Sietinga / Pexels

    A retired Belgian couple had no other choice than to extend their vacation from three weeks to six months after their return flights were scrapped five times due to the pandemic.

    Ronald Snauwaert and Gerda De Decker from Sleidinge near Ghent left Belgium for the tropical island on 3 March. Despite repeated attempts by the couple to get home, the fact that flights to Belgium had been cancelled meant they had to remain on the island in the Caribbean sea for the next six months. On 12 August, Snauwaert and De Decker were finally able to board a flight back to their home country.

    Fortunately, the couple was able to stay with friends for the entire 170-day period. Back home, their son took care of their home and garden. Meanwhile, the grandparents were able to stay in touch with family over Zoom and Whatsapp.

    Currently, the couple is quarantining for 14 days. When their isolation ends, they will be able to attend their daughter’s wedding on 5 September. “We really wanted to be back before that final date,” the couple said.

    “Thankfully, we were able to board a final TUI flight in the middle of August. At this time, all flights from Aruba have been cancelled once again.”

    Snauwaert and De Decker look back on their time in Aruba with little regret. “It’s a beautiful island, and the situation was more dangerous in Belgium because the virus affected more people here than on Aruba.”

    Thanks to their friends, the couple was saved from depending on restaurants and hotels. The only outstanding costs were made for medical necessities to treat De Decker’s diabetes (more than €210 per month), and for a “nice present” to thank their hosts for their hospitality. For their return flights, the couple had to pay an additional €1,100 in comparison to their original tickets, due to August being high season for summer flights.

    The couple plans to return to Aruba in Spring 2021.

    Amée Zoutberg
    The Brussels Times