‘Food is good, but it’s a lonely place to be alone’


The food is good at the CNMI COVID-19 quarantine facility, but it is a lonely place to be alone, especially when you’re used to having your family around you all the time.

Community advocate Jack Muña acknowledged, though, that being placed in quarantine is necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the CNMI.

In sharing his experience of being isolated from the population through the mandatory five-day quarantine for arriving travelers at the Kanoa Resort Saipan, Muña said it is not easy and uncomfortable to be in an isolated situation, but travelers must bear in mind that everyone is doing this quarantine process to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Everyone must do their share, responsibility, and sacrifices if we all have to make it through this pandemic and God knows when this is going to end. It is a tough world we live in,” he said.

Muña arrived at the Saipan International Airport last June 5 at 5:10am from Guam on a United Airlines flight 174.

He said the COVID-19 team then escorted all the passengers inside the airport and processed them. With so many passengers on that flight, Muña said it took them about two hours before they were transported to a mini-bus to the Kanoa Resort.

At the hotel, he said they were lined up to take the COVID-19 specimen test and then escorted to each assigned hotel room to start the quarantine.

“I was kind of lucky to have a room on the fifth floor overlooking the beachfront,” he said.

In the moment before sunsets, he would watch the beautiful sight of the sun disappearing over the west. At night, he said, it gave him the sense of relaxation looking at the glittering lights of the five military ships anchored off the Saipan lagoon.

In the morning, he said, they are served breakfast, usually consisting of rice, scrambled eggs, sausage, fruits, and two bottles of water. At noon, he said the menu changes, and in the evenings they are served barbecued ribs, chicken, hamburger steak or shrimp, and salad with dressing.

“The food is good and enough to satisfy your appetite,” he said.

Muña said he is satisfied with the food that were always served on time.

He is also very satisfied with the courtesy of the hotel’s staff.

Strict regulations include not being allowed to go out of one’s designated room and not using the balcony at any time. There is no smoking nor drinking of alcoholic beverage.

“You don’t see anyone except only when breakfast, lunch, and dinner are delivered to your room,” he said.

When retrieving the food, they must first put a chair outside by the door for the server to place the food on the top of the chair, Muña said.

He said they would hear an announcement through the PA system that the food is ready to be retrieved and to bring back the chair inside the room.

Muña said they put their trash once every evening after dinner outside their room and next to their door for pickup.

“All in all, it is a lonely place to be,” he said.

To keep himself busy, Muña would read the local newspapers or watch TV most of the time. Most importantly, he would exercise every morning.

He said on the fifth day of the quarantine, they were tested again in the morning. As his results were negative, he was then released from the quarantine facility to go home—at no cost to him.

For Muña , it was an experience of lonely isolation, especially if someone tests positive and is quarantined for another 14 days .

“But the good part [is] you can call the outside line through the front desk and you can talk to your family or friends…if you don’t have a cell phone,” he said.

To those planning to travel, Muña advised them to be prepared and always try to have a good state of mind to go through the quarantine process.

He said they must make sure to have all the required vaccination records, CNMI mandatory declaration form and confirmation numbers, passport, and other documents required for entry to Saipan.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com
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