On February 1, 2020, Babi Milani escaped the blistering, Brazilian summer to hop on a plane to Florida. Sporting the biggest smile she had worn in a while, Babi was inching closer to seeing her long-distance boyfriend for the first time in months. The plan was to stay with him until March 14 while she visited and participated in the Disney Princess 10k in Orlando, Florida, that is until Covid-19 changed her life, and Babi was forced to trade in her running shoes for a pair of house slippers.
Babi had previously completed the Cultural Representative program with Walt Disney World, where she worked as a Guest Relations Hostess. She lived in the United States from August 2018 until August 2019 when she returned to São Paulo, Brazil.
With Covid-19 worsening around the world, Babi’s flight home was canceled. Like many, she rebooked the flight with little care. It wasn’t until her second flight got canceled that she began to wonder if she was going to ever make it home. The United States had closed its borders, evoking fear into an already anxious girl. Babi was faced with some tough decisions, one being if she would need to ask for an extension on her visa or not.
Her time in the United States was different than she had imagined. She wasn’t hopping around from one Walt Disney World theme park to the next or socializing with the friends she hadn’t seen in months. Instead, she was stocking up on toilet paper, watching the news, and shopping on Amazon for cute couples masks. The initial vacation had turned into what some would call a nightmare. Being away from Brazil made communicating with her family and friends difficult. Although she was able to speak to some people using FaceTime, it was disheartening seeing them not abide by CDC guidelines and quarantine rules.
After five stressful months and an accommodating airline, Babi made it back to São Paulo, Brazil without having to extend her visa, bringing with her an experience she will never forget. Due to her mother being high risk, she hasn’t been able to visit home, just yet. Babi has decided to quarantine herself at an apartment on the beach for 14 days until she is able to get tested and be sure that she won’t infect anyone. The situation in Brazil is continuing to worsen with talks of the country becoming the next epicenter. As of July 19, 2020, Brazil has had 2,098,389 confirmed Covid-19 cases, directly behind the United States with 3,781,985 cases. The number of cases is not the only similarity to the United States. Brazil is also under scrutiny for its response to the virus.
“President Bolsonaro failed to take seriously the need to mitigate the potential impacts of the pandemic, ignoring scientific findings that were against his beliefs and showing more concern about an economic recession than the spread of the virus” (Urban & Dinaz, 2020).
President Bolsonaro recently “watered down” a law requiring mandatory masks stating that it was unconstitutional. A few days later, President Bolsonaro tested positive for Covid-19.
“Our President is a joke…There is so much denial on his part and nothing has been done since the pandemic started”, explained Babi.
What started out as a quick summer getaway ended up lasting until the Brazilian winter. Adjusting to her new normal, Babi is unsure of her future and when she will be able to visit the United States again. Only time will tell and an end to the pandemic. Babi believes that everyone should wear masks to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, regardless of what President Bolsonaro says.
“It doesn’t hurt and still saves lives. I really don’t get people who make this such a big deal.”
Babi’s story is one that everyone can relate to with Covid-19 changing the lives of people all over the globe. The only way for 2020 to recover what it has left is for everyone to listen to Babi and wear masks.