We should have known in early February, when we evacuated my mom from China. We were in a small town in Colombia then with no running hot water, a world away.
When we crossed the border into Nicaragua, a doctor came running up to me frantically, but it turned out he was more concerned about my yellow fever card than anything else.
By the time we reached Panama, the stock market was crashing. In Costa Rica, the last stop on our South America trip, we saw tourists wearing masks for the first time.
We flew back to Boston on March 10. Days later, cancellation requests on our Airbnb started flying in. We went from 90% occupancy to zero.
In May, emboldened by the city’s new eviction moratorium, one of our tenants decided to stop paying rent, even though she still had a job.
By June, every airline had cancelled our summer flights but refused to refund us. Our stimulus checks never came, and our health insurance only covered us outside the US.
Boston never looked so empty. To be honest, we relished having the whole city to ourselves. We got health insurance, lived in our Airbnb, and went for long walks, watching our ghost town bloom into a veritable garden.
I filed a small claims case against my tenant, which I later won. Thankfully she left at the end of her lease and we found new, better tenants.
Aaron contacted the Department of Transportation and EU authorities about the airlines that were withholding refunds, which got us our money back instead of vouchers.
We dropped prices on our Airbnb and marketed to longer term guests. To our surprise, bookings started to return, not quite at pre-pandemic levels, but benefiting from a new trend – remote workers Airbnb hopping across the country.
I also got my mom two free flights from JetBlue in a giveaway for healthcare professionals, and we spent lots of time with family, making up for the last few years.
By fall the things demanding our attention had lightened up enough for us to start taking a few domestic trips. We went to Maine, Chicago, and NYC to see what life was like outside of Boston. Next we’ll head to Florida to work on a real estate design project.
Bumping into a neighbor in the elevator, he said, of all the people whose lives have changed, you guys have had the biggest change. It’s certainly strange to be stationary, but we’re grateful for our health and looking forward to traveling again.