Interview with Alex Wester: Travel during a pandemic.

Can you introduce yourself? 

I am a track and field athlete from Germany, specializing in long jumps. My Mother is from Ghana, my dad is from Germany, and I was born in Baku, the Gambia. So, I consider myself a citizen of the world!

I studied Sports Science at the University of Miami, am still working on this degree, but online in Germany. It better suits my training schedule, and I represent Germany. Growing up my dad would tell me that I needed to do something. So, when I was six, I did ballet, and hated it. Then I changed to track and field, also around the age of six. I love track and field. I spend about ¾ of time in training, and the other ¼ in competition globally. 

Where are you based out of, and what takes you abroad?

Even though I feel like a global citizen, my official base is Germany. My training and competition take me all over the world. Pre-pandemic, my training bases were in the US, Europe, and South Africa. During pandemic, Germany was locked down, so I traveled to Grenada, Ghana, and U.S. for training. Currently I in the U.S. on the ESTA program, which is good for 90 days. I am working with a personal trainer to maximize my health and performance.

You were one of the few travelers propping up the airline industry during pandemic, can you tell us where you went internationally since March 2020, and their entry requirements?  

I travel the same as before, for track and field, especially since Germany is locked down, I have to go where there is free access to exercise. 

In Grenada, I had to take a Covid-19 test and quarantine for five days.  There was masking requirements. I stayed for two months to train. 

In Ghana, I also had to take a test in advance, and a rapid test on arrival, after that I was good to go. I stayed there for four months to train. 

For the USA, I took a test three days in advance, and quarantined for 7 days on arrival. 

What were the common denominators to all these places you visited, in terms of Covid-19 safety requirements?

Temperature checks, testing, masking and quarantine are prevalent. It was difficult to travel with all the restrictions, online requests, and testing.  The official Germany foreign affairs site was good for me to do my research as it shows all the requirements in the world. However, requirements change every day, and the official website updates every three days, so I was still unsure about it. Also, many of the requirements have to do with where you have been in the past 14 days, so it’s a hassle.  To prepare for travel, I usually need a week ahead, to complete forms, testing, and other pre-departure reparation. 

Can you walk us through your travel preparation to meet with Covid-19 related travel requirements?

I look at official sites, like the German Embassy in my destination country, to see what is requirements for the country. If testing is required, then I book my testing appointment, then I book my flight. I just don’t want to not be able to make my flight if I do not get an appointment booked in time. 

Even though you travel to train, was there a standout destination you personally enjoyed visiting during your travels last year?

I would say Ghana. Two years ago, I was in Ghana. I love the big city in Accra, anything you can get anywhere in the world you can get there.  They also have beach, they have great Mahogany forests. They have the Baobab tree that you hear about from Madagascar! The people are really great: you think you are in the land of kings and queens. My grandparents and great grandparents are in Ghana.

Ghana also has great food! There are lots of seafood, lots of fish, right out of the ocean. My favorite dishes are Fufu and okra soup, or stew with fish or goat. We love rice bowls with ground nut soup. Their Malta beer is also great, or local one is palm wine, fresh from tree. The palm juice is sweet right out of the tree. When you leave it for a few days, it ferments into a wine.

What is your overall impression of travel during the pandemic?

All traveling is business traveling. It‘s definitely not as it was before, so in the future people will definitely need further assistance in travelling to navigate their life and still be able to provide for their families. 

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