From the US, to quarantine, to home: SA man's long journey to be reunited with his wife

2020-05-13 05:25
Matthew Kalil on his journey to get back home and to his wife. (Screengrab: Video supplied by Matthew Kalil)

Matthew Kalil on his journey to get back home and to his wife. (Screengrab: Video supplied by Matthew Kalil)

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It has been a journey of love - back home on South African soil and into the arms of the woman he adores - for one Cape Town man who has been given the all clear after returning from the US.

This was the story unfolding on Tuesday as Matthew Kalil edged closer to the day he has dreamed of since the lockdown began: Being reunited with his wife.

He told News24: "My journey began in a small town called Fairfield in Iowa. I was working on the David Lynch Masters in Fine Arts [MFA] programme in screenwriting as a professor. I had arrived in January, and was waiting for my wife to join me on 2 April. 

"But then international flights were cancelled. I didn't know when I'd see her again. So I decided to take this repatriation flight back to her."

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His journey began on a single-propeller plane to Chicago. Then a commercial flight from Chicago to Washington DC. There, he spent two nights in a hotel.

The official repatriation flight followed. And then began quarantine, at the Capital-on-Park Hotel, provided by the South African government.

On Tuesday, Kalil was released after being tested for the coronavirus, and receiving a clean bill of health. 

He said of his journey: "It's been tough having to totally let go and trust the process. There is so much unknown: don't know if you have a ticket on the plane; don't know what day you will leave; and also don't know when test results will be back. Will you be negative, positive? And all that stress and worry take a toll. I think I have many more grey hairs now for sure.

"Then there is the financial cost. I reckon this whole thing: repatriation flight, flights to DC, hotels, car trip to Cape Town… All in all, it's close to R25k I recon. But it's worth it.

"I also couldn't sleep. Not just jet lag but also the stress. And then the strain of so many days in airplane seats.

ALSO READ: DA calls on Dirco to use its budget to help stranded South Africans abroad

"The mental strain of being quarantined for so long was surprising to me. It really takes a lot to keep positive and keep believing. I don't mind if the whole world goes up in flames as long as I am with the woman I love when it happens," Kalil told News24.

At the time of going to press, Kalil was still in Johannesburg, "hoping to get to Cape Town as soon as possible".

"I'm going to fall into her arms. I have waited so long. I have taken such a battering. I just want my wife's arms around me once again."

Read more on:    us  |  cape town  |  johannesburg  |  coronavirus  |  health  |  lockdown
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