KEARNEY Mary and Ron Scott had traveled to 75 foreign countries before their last trip an 11-nation round-the-world journey that they concluded March 16.
The couple is back home in Kearney, but they must log another several days in self-quarantine before theyre free to leave their house.
The Scotts departed on Jan. 3 and intended to travel for three months. The first 10 weeks carried them to beautiful and exotic places. There were few signs of the COVID-19 pandemic that might have prompted them to abandon the trip that they had been planning since October.
Some airports were scanning travelers for fever, and the couple had to fill out health forms, but otherwise the trip seemed mostly worry-free, they said.
Nobody was wearing masks. We were ahead of it. We were surfing the coronavirus wave, Ron said.
A dose of reality finally struck as Mary and Ron headed toward Cartagena, a city on the Atlantic coast of Colombia. From there they planned to visit Ecuador and Panama before returning to Kearney.
Travel bans made the remaining Central American stops an impossibility, so the couple faced a choice: Travel elsewhere and risk being marooned in international airports or return to Nebraska.
Mary said, We woke up on March 16 and said, We better go home.
Since their return theyve been passing time mostly indoors, but theyve taken a few neighborhood strolls keeping their distance from others.
After more than a week in isolation, the couple was happy to share some of the details of their journey, which took them to Hawaii, Bali, Singapore, Myanmar, India, Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Dubai, Portugal, Canary Islands and Netherlands.
Amsterdam wasnt on their itinerary until the Scotts began searching for flights back to Kearney.
Most of their trip took them to places that arent well-known among American travelers, and they didnt encounter large groups of tourists until Portugal. Otherwise, the Scotts visited the worlds tallest building, saw the legendary Taj Mahal in India and witnessed what Ron described as ... weird-looking rocks on beaches in the Seychelles.
They also were able to share part of the trip with friends from the Kearney area.
Chris Raymond, who grew up in Kearney, works in public health and lives in Jakarta, Indonesia. He hosted the Scotts in Bali.
They also met friends Marsha and Jim Fairbanks of Shelton and shared time in Myanmar.
David and Carolyn Fairbanks of Lexington hosted them in their Hawaii home.
Myanmar was the strangest place. We took a balloon ride over a big area with many Hindu temples, Ron said. The pilot radioed to the chase team Landing in field one. ... and then he said, Landing in field two. ...
We cruised on a river. It was just so different, the jungles and temples, and the people were so friendly, Mary said about Myanmar.
All the kids were giving us high-fives while we rode by, Ron said about scooting around in three-wheel taxis called tri-shaws.
The Scotts planned their trip with a company named Air-Treks.
Mary said, Thats all they do is trips around the world. They were so good to help us when we had trouble. We are so grateful.
There was something very liberating about doing this on your own, Ron said, and also somewhat scary.
Mary and Ron said the two weeks in self-quarantine will be a part of their memory. Theyve been passing the time in various ways, taking their temperature each day, walking in the neighborhood and waiting for their daughter, Kathy Bokenkamp, to drop by with food.
Married 52 years, the Scotts said their longtime motto has been, Travel when you can. There will be a time when you cant.
Mary said after the coronavirus adventure, that may change.
Go when you can and get home when you can. Thats our new motto, she said.
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