The Scramble to Get OutFebruary 26 in Peru ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C
I just returned home after a very crazy 4 days. I’m back in Canada and I’m fine. I have to maintain a 14 day period of self-isolation. No contact with other people closer than 6 feet and no going out. Sheryl is sleeping in the other room, and we are disinfecting everything either of us touches in common spaces.
I am sporting a cold though. I got a cold when I was on my birding trip. The guide was wonderful but had some pretty poor hygiene. He would blow his nose and sneeze into his hands... I was within 5 feet of him for 5 days straight. It would have been a miracle if I had not gotten his cold. There is zero chance that he had the corona virus. It hadn’t hit Peru by that time.
In any case, with things getting worse last week, I decided on Friday to change my flight from March 24th to a week early to Tuesday, March 18th. It was relatively easy and American Airlines said they were waiving change fees for flights. I arranged to have my classes only on Monday and Tuesday because my flight was late Tuesday night. All was good.
On Sunday at around 4pm I was looking at the news from Peru and the President decided to close all borders into and out of Peru by midnight on Monday. They would be shut down for 15 days (at least). After trying to call the American Airlines number in Peru and the call kept getting dropped, I felt resigned that I would have to stay on through the added days. Karin, the woman I was staying with was happy to have me stay on. Her apartment is incredible. There are worse places and situations to be stuck in and to extend my summer and Spanish classes. But I wanted to go home. If I did actually contract the corona virus in Peru, who knows what the healthcare system would be like.
I contacted Sheryl and she was nothing short of amazing. She got me a flight out for 7am on Monday morning that went to Miami then Los Angles then Vancouver and finally to Victoria. It was three separate tickets with an overnight hotel in Vancouver but... I could get out.
I had to pack everything up that night and get a cab to the airport at 3:15am. I felt bad. I was leaving Karin with a bunch of food, laundry, and garbage to deal with. I had planned to not just clear out properly but also hose the place down with disinfectant so she would not get my cold. I had to dash out without getting her the gift I was planning to give and only about an hour and a half of sleep.
It is usually a 45 minute drive to the airport and they said having 3 hours in the airport was a good idea for international flights. I thought it was overkill but... I am so glad I got there at 3:50. It took over an hour just to check in my one bag, another hour to get through customs and immigration, and finally another 30 minutes to get through security to the gate. I had about 10 minutes to sit before boarding for my 7am flight. OMG! It was soooo stressful.
The airport was full of people trying to get out of the country. I was sad for them but so relieved that Sheryl made it all work out for me. The flight out of Lima left 35 minutes late and it took over a half hour to collect my bag from baggage claim to get through customs in Miami. Needless to say I missed my connection to LA. The woman at the baggage counter had the gall to tell me that I had missed my flight (with the emphasis on “I”) - like I had anything to do with it. She also was unhappy that I had so many flights and so many changes registered. She rebooked me on a standby flight at 7:35pm to LA. Of the 20 or so on the standby list only 7 people got on the flight. I was number 6.
I got into LA and was exhausted. Sheryl had cancelled the Vancouver hotel and had found me a hotel in LA for the night. It was a lovely room. After only getting about an hour of sleep the night before, I crashed shortly after arriving at 11:00 and set the alarm for 6:30am. I figured I would be able to eat breakfast in the hotel (complimentary) and get the (free) shuttle to the airport for my 9:25am flight to Vancouver. Worked out beautifully. The airport was pretty empty for LA.
I arrived in Vancouver on time. My Nexus card didn’t work (again - this is supposedly so I can get faster screening). They took pity on me and got me into the Nexus line for a speedy exit to the pick up location where Sheryl was waiting with my lunch and coat in the back seat. No contact - beyond social distancing to self-isolation. No hugs. No kisses hello.
We drove to the ferry and stayed in the car to avoid sitting with other people. I got home exhausted with mixed emotions. I’m so happy to be back in Victoria. Sad that I had to cut my time in Peru and so abruptly. I miss the summer warmth and the new friends I have made in Lima. I am thrilled to be drinking water out of the tap. I am happy to see Sheryl. The weather is beautiful and sunny here now and spring has really sprung with early flowers.
I am feeling shell shocked and have been crying on and off throughout the last 55 hours. The whole process of fleeing a country because my options for health and safety were closing was overwhelming. I started to set myself up in the master bedroom for my 14 day isolation period. Sheryl stocked the fridge with food and set out dishes and other stuff for me. I just am so grateful that I had the support from Sheryl, the means and frequent flyer miles, and hotel points to come home. I also had a very wonderful alternative if I had had to stay in Peru for an added couple weeks. I just can’t imagine what it would feel like to have been stuck without an option of a way to leave or a place to stay put.
After a decent night’s sleep. I might feel like a human being again.Read more