'Like the Terminal': Tunisia-based American author stranded in Paris airport by coronavirus pandemic

'Like the Terminal': Tunisia-based American author stranded in Paris airport by coronavirus pandemic
American author Mark Gonzales has chronicled his struggle to go home to his children in Tunisia amid flight cancellations and quarantines imposed by the coronavirus pandemic
2 min read
08 May, 2020
Mark Gonzales has been trying to return to Tunisia [YouTube]

Author Mark Gonzales has been trying to return to Tunisia since the beginning of March but has been unable due to flight restrictions from the US due to coronavirus.

He has shared his struggles in a Facebook post that has since become quite popular.

“Ever see the movie, The Terminal, with Tom Hanks?” Gonzales, who is a poet spending his time travelling between Tunisia and America, wrote.

“Quick overview. Since March (7 weeks) I’ve been in California, unable to get to my little ones and love in northern Africa, due to Covid-19 lockdowns. I’ve tried only to have 6 flights cancelled.”

He went on: “Three days ago an opportunity arose. I took it and left for SFO [San Fransisco International Airport] at 2am, caught a flight to the East Coast with a brief layover in an empty airport, than off to Paris where I was to catch a flight to Tunisia.

“In Paris, I was told I could not board the plane. While Customs had my name in Tunisia, the flight didn’t have it in Paris, so the agents couldn’t let me on. They apologized and gave me a phone number and said if/once it’s sorted out I can board the next, which is the 9th (2 1/2 days from now).

“Only challenge is France is under lockdown, with non-nationals not allowed to enter so leaving the airport isn’t allowed. So this is my hotel – ‘hotel Charles De Gaulle’ that i have almost entirely to myself.”

Many airlines across the Middle East and globally have cancelled flights in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and disruptions to travel are widespread, leading to flight cancellations, quarantines upon arrival and other restrictions placed on movement.

It is not unusual for flights to be cancelled to Tunisia in the wake of the virus. In March Britons were stranded in Tunisia after aircrew with TunisAir refused to fly to Europe – which is at the centre of the global coronavirus pandemic – as a result of concerns over coronavirus.

Gonzales continued: “One day I’ll laugh about this. Show my kids photos of empty airports and the occasional passenger in a hazmat suit.

“I’ll tell them I pretended the entire airport was my office because I was the only one there.

“Maybe we’ll remix it as a movie - A COVID19 version of the terminal, with a Muslim father trying to get to his family and little daughters during Ramadan when a global pandemic occurs.”

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay connected