When the coronavirus pandemic brought the world to a halt in early 2020, travellers Katherine Rose Bridges and Dawson Davis Jr decided to continue their South American trip, thinking the virus crisis would last just a few months. Now, almost two years after they first landed in Buenos Aires on a journey of exploration, they’re finally heading home – with a beautiful baby daughter in tow.
The travelling binational couple – Katherine is British, Dawson is American – have spent the bulk of the pandemic in Argentina, partly stranded and partly by choice.
The voyage began in June 2019 when the couple flew out to Argentina, before heading to Santiago. They then stayed for six months in Lima where they adopted Barney, a Schnauzer dog who joined them on their travels (Dawson jokingly describes the beloved family pet as “Katherine’s nutless luxury item.”)
Tired of capital cities, they flew back to Argentina in January 2020 and settled in Mendoza, enjoying just two months of freedom before government restrictions kicked in.
“We just assumed — as everyone — that the quarantine would end and everything would open up a bit more, and it kind of... didn’t,” laughs Katherine, who worked as a neonatal nurse back home in the UK.
When Katherine fell pregnant in June during the strict Phase 1 lockdown, the couple began to prepare for the arrival of their baby girl from their temporary AirBnb home, tracking down English-speaking doctor Fernando Vera, who saw them throughout the whole journey.
“We were super excited, we’d wanted a baby for a long time and we knew that we can’t just wait until all this ends,” said the 30-year-old mother.
Not everything went swimmingly, however. The pair, who both work remotely for a UK startup, contracted Covid-19 during Katherine’s second trimester of pregnancy, though thankfully they recovered.
Free of health complications, baby Beatrice was born on 18 March 2021 at the Hospital Español de Mendoza, making her an Argentine citizen by right as ‘sangre de la tierra’ (literally, “blood of the land”).
Now, as a family of three different nationalities, certain complications have come into play. Even receiving Beatrice’s DNI posed a problem, since her non-Argentine parents could not receive it without their own national identity number. Lucky for them, the postman who delivered the card was willing to put down his own.
With this dramatic Argentine chapter of their life now coming to an end, even returning to the UK has also proved difficult. Baby Beatrice cannot enter the country with her Argentine passport, nor obtain a British passport beforehand.
“We’ve applied for emergency documents, we’ve been to the Embassy, there’s no clear answer, there’s nobody staffed at the UK Embassy [for passports]. They have a phone outside that takes you to a call centre who couldn’t care less about what you’re talking about,” said 36-year-old Dawson, who is a former US infantryman.
Since Argentina is listed as a ‘red’ risk country, the family must first go to a green or amber zone for 10 days before the UK will allow Beatrice and her American father in the country.
After their original flight to Madrid was cancelled, the family has now booked a flight to Amsterdam, though they will be unable to leave the airport while they wait 48 hours for a flight to ‘green’ Ukraine, where they will wait out the necessary 10 days.
It’s all a lot of travelling and quite a lot of upheaval. Neither of the proud parents are quite sure how it’s going to go.
“It's hard to figure everything out. I mean it’s not easy, we’re kind of winging it and really kind of hoping on human kindness. We’re just trying to get home,” says Katherine.
The couple’s travels won’t end when they finally reach UK soil, though luckily that’s just the way they like it. After introducing their daughter to the British side of the family, they plan to sail a boat around the Mediterranean, continuing their remote work from abroad. The couple then hope to cross the Atlantic and continue their journey, throughout the Carribean and South America.
One thing’s for sure, though. They’re committed to coming back to Argentina to one day show their daughter where she was welcomed into the world, in the middle of the pandemic that no-one is likely to ever forget.
The couple will likely obtain their own Argentine documents in order to enjoy unrestricted time in the country. After all, says Dawson, despite being here for nearly a year-and-a-half, they’ve not really had the chance to see much of the country.
“I definitely want the ‘extranjero’ ["foreigner"] DNI to be able to bring her back here,” says Dawson. “We want her to know where she’s from.”