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Trevor’ed Again! Nomadic Backpacker In State Imposed Quarantine In North Macedonia

The grim reality of traveling in 2020.

North Macedonia
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I am half-way through ’14 days of isolation’ in Skopje, North Macedonia.

Having been stuck in Kenya for almost four months, I took an evac flight from Nairobi to Belgrade via Amsterdam.

Since then I have been travelling slowly around the Balkans, wearing my mask and practising social distancing.

Of course, it’s not possible all of the time unless you live in a cave and grow your own food.

I knew the cases were on the rise and I upped the ante regarding social distancing but my luck ran out!

You do what you can but you cannot control what others do and eventually you will meet someone who was reckless or just unlucky.

There is nowhere you can hide. It will get you eventually.

I turned up in Skopje and a guy in my hostel had just been for a test as he was going to Greece via Bulgaria.

The next morning he checked out and went to pick up his test result before continuing.

At around 7 pm, the owner of the hostel came to inform me that the guy going to Greece had tested positive for Covid-19 and that I was required by law to isolate for 14 days.

Guilty by association.

The owner was angry with him for staying in a dorm room but I said, “You could be positive, I could be positive. Without taking a test, we just don’t know for sure.”

He said that there had been a handful of travellers this season who had taken the test before crossing certain borders but he was the first one who returned a positive result.

It just so happened that he had a few private rooms upstairs separate from the hostel. Even with a bit of a discount, the room charge still hurt!

But what could I do? I just had to suck it up.

Double bed, own bathroom, Wi-Fi, TV, and balcony but no place to prepare my food. Dang. I didn’t even have a kettle.

So the owner told the health department of my new location and they answered my question regarding the possibility of going to the shop to get supplies.

This was a firm, NO. I would have to order it through some food delivery service with which they would help me.

And, of course, I knew about the likelihood of random checks. I had enough problems — I didn’t need problems with the local authorities, as well.

Rather ominously I was given the number I should call if I developed any symptoms.

I imagined that the days were going to be long and boring, but actually they aren’t too bad. At least not yet.

One way that I stayed sane in Kenya was by creating mini-projects, primarily on my blog. I wrote heaps, read a few eBooks, started cooking.

This time around I had plenty of editing to do.

This 14-day isolation was same same but different. I was bound to my room. At least I knew it was for only two weeks and not a never-ending wait like in Kenya, but for someone who likes doing stuff not being able to go out was soul-destroying.

I practised some deep breathing techniques as seen on YouTube by Wim Hof.

This is the reality you face when you live on the road; always in a country that is not your own and something like this happens.

How I wish I had stayed more nights in Prilep.

I worried too about what would happen if I developed symptoms. What would I do? Would I make the call? Or just hide here hoping I was strong enough? And if not?

And seeing as the guy was positive, did this automatically mean I was too? I had kept my distance from him but how much does it spread in a room over a night? He wasn’t showing any symptoms and if the primary way it transmits is through breathing in infected water droplets, he wasn’t sneezing either.

Noticeable parts of the first week:

Day 2: I had a bit of a panic attack. My heart started racing. Too much cola probably. I was also wearing my lightweight duvet jacket inside, as I had the door to my balcony wide open, and it was a bit chilly and I got all sweaty. Was it Covid or the mind playing tricks? It’s natural to think the worst, isn’t it?

Am glad I had a friend to call. Thanks, Sarah.

Day 3: The Health Department called me up, doing their job, making sure I knew the rules of isolation etc and on showing signs of symptoms I was to call them and that I would then be tested, and if I needed to be hospitalised it was all covered under their health service. What a relief!

And apparently, after the 14 days I am free to go. Just like that. Though I am required by law to mask up when I am around others. No worries there. I’ll be wearing double masks.

So I carry on sitting it out.

I always have at least one worry! Hoping that Skopje doesn’t go into lockdown before my days in isolation are up. Now that really would be a disaster.

Filed under: Epidemics, Macedonia

About the Author:

World Traveller – Global Nomad. Former electronic technician, racing cyclist, barman, mountain runner and mailman. Now perpetual vagabond. Blogs at Nomadic Backpacker. has written 10 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Trevor Warman is currently in: CDMX Mexico

34 comments… add one

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  • VBJ October 21, 2020, 6:19 pm

    Dude, that sucks. Oh man. That’s completely outside of your control. What if you had something to do or somewhere that you needed to be? Risky stuff traveling in 2020. But you are getting some dumb stories to share for the long haul!

    Would you of had to quarantine if you weren’t staying in a dorm? Did the entire hostel have to quarantine?

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    • Trevor Warman October 22, 2020, 1:11 am

      Yeah, it sucks. If I had of had plans they would have to have been binned.
      I think we were just 3 in the hostel for the duration that the covid guy was here. All sharing 1 dorm. He left before 8 am. Then I was out all day, met new guests in the kitchen and it wasn’t ’til 7 pm that I was informed.

      The owners run a cafe downstairs so it’s not like they are in the hostel all day. They weren’t made to close.

      And by law, I was in ‘close’ and ‘prolonged’ contact with a confirmed +ve.

      Until now I feel ok. ,:))

      So the moral of the story is to avoid going to a country where you need to take a pre-test cos if you return a +ve test result, bam! Even if you think you are -ve.

      And avoid others who are going to take a test.

      And how many were in contact with this guy before he tested and how many +ve have I unknowingly met? These questions remain unknown.

      The plain fact is that I was in contact with known +ve case. Period.

      Life is fun eh!

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      • VBJ October 30, 2020, 12:06 pm

        Man, things keep getting more ridiculous. I wonder when it’s going to sink in that 99% of positives don’t have any significant symptoms and that this is something we’re just going to have to live with … like every other disease. But this isn’t looking likely.

        “So the moral of the story is to avoid going to a country where you need to take a pre-test cos if you return a +ve test result, bam! Even if you think you are -ve.”

        I agree completely. If you test positive then the state can do whatever they like with you … and there is a HUGE rate of false positives.

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  • Sarah BB October 21, 2020, 6:30 pm

    Pleasure, call any time. Hang on in there dude – it’s boring as hell self-isolating but you seem to be in a good spot for it – having a balcony is a blessing right! Fresh air is everything!

    I’m impressed they are so organised, unlike my experience of the UK, and very cool they would cover any test and medical stuff should you need it, that is the way to make sure people actually report symptoms and get help when they need it – not that you will. But a relief all the same – one less thing to worry about.

    Hope the next week goes fast now your WiFi is back on. Binge watch away and rest up, before the next dash for freedom.

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    • Trevor Warman October 22, 2020, 1:14 am

      Cheers Sarah. I’ve binge-watched 2 seasons of Jack Ryan so far.

      Almost 1 week since the first contact.

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  • Trevor Warman October 22, 2020, 6:45 am

    Here’ s a YouTube video clip back dated to day 3. . Its day 6 now…or 7 depends on when the authories say it began.


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  • Jack October 22, 2020, 8:33 pm

    that just sucks. I assume he was asymptomatic. The problem with testing people who aren’t sick is that they may be a false positive. If you test 100 healthy people, you’ll likely get 1 person who tests positive who isn’t positive. That’s for a 99% accurate test.

    So keep your chin up and don’t worry unless you start showing real symptoms. Maybe he wasn’t even really positive?

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    • Trevor Warman October 23, 2020, 1:22 am

      Yeah False +ve s are confusing and the need from some countries to double test.

      Many be I’m using up another of my 9 lives.. praying here.

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      • VBJ October 30, 2020, 12:27 pm

        I haven’t confirmed this, but some in the medical field are saying that other coronavirus infections — such as the cold — can trigger a positive Covid test as well.

        It’s all a mess.

        Rather than mass testing, contact tracing, and quarantining a world full of healthy people, developing infrastructure and systems to protect those who are at risk would probably be the better way to go.

        Maybe not … but what the rest of the world is doing outside of Sweden and a few other countries clearly isn’t working.

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    • Trevor Warman October 26, 2020, 3:50 am

      Am interested in the deaths. Or very badly affected people.

      Any sites listing the data re % of people who died and had underlying/known conditions? And the others whose condition was not even known about.

      am on day 10 weeeeeeeee . Counting down

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      • VBJ October 30, 2020, 12:40 pm

        In the USA it’s like 94% officially. So roughly 10,000 people died of pure Covid, assuming the data is correct.

        From the hog’s mouth:

        “For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death.”

        58% were 75 or older.

        22% occurred in nursing homes.

        Almost everyone who is not elderly or has a severe pre-existing health condition will be fine if they get it. In fact, it’s probably best for the young and healthy to act as viral shields rather than being backed away in their homes waiting for a vaccine that may never come.

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    • VBJ October 30, 2020, 12:24 pm

      I agree.

      The antibody test is screwed up too, being wrong up to half the time:


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      • Trevor Warman October 31, 2020, 11:46 am

        Alpaca Liz from North MI said her friend got +ve again and had a -ve in between the 2+ve s what happened to her antibodies?

        Temperature zapped 2x today… (found the Decathlon store yay for small miracles and thicker socks. And when going on the Metro)

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        • VBJ November 2, 2020, 10:12 am

          Yeah, we can’t trust those tests. They supposedly pick up all kinds of things and turn up positive results. I imagine they probably also show false negatives too. Funny how backwards this entire Covid thing has made our societies look.

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  • Michael Robert Powell October 23, 2020, 9:08 am

    Hi Trevor

    Sure, you’re be fine.

    May I suggest a few ales to reinforce the psychology of a strong immunity and mediate any stress.

    Yeah, 2020 is definitely a lemon for travel (unless – ironically, you’re in China).

    Meanwhile, maybe sleeping in dorms should be avoided until Covid disappears?

    Stay sane, stay safe!

    Regards – MRP.

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    • VBJ October 30, 2020, 12:32 pm

      Yeah dude, stop being a cheap ass and stay out of the dorms! haha.

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      • Trevor Warman October 31, 2020, 11:48 am

        I need an income but have taken advice on board am in a basement double room in Taksim.

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        • VBJ November 2, 2020, 10:12 am


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  • Trevor Warman October 26, 2020, 3:26 am

    @mrp. Yes time to ditch the dorm idea.

    4 days left. Thursday is my last. Friday i am outta here like asap…

    Egypt needs a covid test to enter. But thats ok. Sent email to Kurdistan mfo in Erbil asking for latest updates.


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    • VBJ October 30, 2020, 12:34 pm

      I want to hear the stories from there, for sure, but that part of the world could end up being a trap. I’d recommend sticking to where you can live free, but living free often doesn’t produce good stories. So by all means, go get Trevor’ed in Iraq! (Just send me the stories! haha)

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    • Sarah BB October 30, 2020, 1:28 pm

      Kurdistan?!? Really? I mean the whole world is fucked right now, so could be as good as anywhere. Even Sweden is changing its tune at the moment ;-( Few places left in the world that are anywhere resembling free? But we need to plan our next moves carefully, could be Trevor’ed there until next May at this rate when the world starts opening up again.

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      • Trevor Warman October 31, 2020, 12:02 pm

        I need new countries not just to get to 100 but i need something to inspire my mind. Variety is the spice of life Hence the reason to stay in Taksim this time. Wanna go Mt Nemrut, Mardin which are on the way to Kurdistan … and Pammukale. I only get 90 days here in a 180 day period.

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        • Sarah BB October 31, 2020, 1:05 pm

          I hear ya. Sounds like an interesting route. Thankfully the 90 day rule doesn’t seem to mean too much during a pandemic. I need to rethink my route after Sweden, sounds like the UK will be locked down by the time I’m due back and Spain is headed for home confinement ;-(

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          • Trevor Warman October 31, 2020, 2:00 pm

            Tough descisions need to be made

            I will give it time here…. and poss bugger off to Cairo at one point. lol then i could fly to KENYA and continue my merry way.

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            • Sarah BB October 31, 2020, 3:36 pm

              IST & Cairo sounds pretty good right now. Safe travels. I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place if I step foot anywhere I call home – motherfuckers!

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        • VBJ November 2, 2020, 10:13 am

          You’re doing it! Cool. Let us know how it goes!

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  • Trevor Warman October 28, 2020, 11:42 am

    Hey folks: Update on this isolation crap:


    I believe one needs a certain amount of tenacity to deal with the world these days especially when one has no bolt hole to return to and must stay on the road.

    Situations like this can be avoided by taking precautions, avoid dorm rooms, social distancing, avoid needing to take a test unless absolutely necessary or you are 100% sure you are -ve (it’s not like taking an AIDS test where you are anonymous) or avoiding those who are going to take a test as you will be guilty by association.


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    • VBJ October 30, 2020, 12:42 pm

      “Situations like this can be avoided by taking precautions, avoid dorm rooms, social distancing, avoid needing to take a test unless absolutely necessary or you are 100% sure you are -ve (it’s not like taking an AIDS test where you are anonymous) or avoiding those who are going to take a test as you will be guilty by association.”

      I agree.

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      • Trevor Warman October 31, 2020, 11:39 am

        Am gonna do a post elaborating /expanding on this …

        do you want it for VBJ as its sort of a continuing story?

        Seeing as i am living proof of how one must travel these days its the same for all…. be careful where you get tested..

        Kurdistan Mfa didnt reply to me yet.

        Am safely in Turkey.. dodging earthquakes… Turkey is good as its a major air hub

        Short clip: https://youtu.be/0vyy8yRPNuo

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        • VBJ November 2, 2020, 10:10 am

          GOOD MOVE! Going to Turkey was a excellent choice.

          Yes, definitely, I’d love to run that story.

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  • Trevor Warman November 2, 2020, 9:06 am

    @Wade new post in ur inbox ;))

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  • Patty December 19, 2020, 7:03 am

    Yecccch! Trapped in Skopje, North Macedonia, the pollution capital of Europe (and in the top 10 for crime). I was also in lockdown in the balkans, but on a beautiful beach in Albania (check my blog http://peaceparadise.eu5.org/ for photos)! You’re now in Turkey? If you need another 90-days stay somewhere send me a message, dude.

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