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Published: April 27th 2020
The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow
Doing ISO by the river in Chilliwack, BC
This has got to be the weirdest situation we’ve ever found ourselves in, eh?
As global citizens, we gotta do our part. Stay home. Practice safe distancing. Wash our hands. Remain calm. Be respectful. Help neighbours.
For me, it all started when a very stern looking Justin Trudeau stared into the camera and said, "...and to those Canadians abroad, it's time to come home now." Our virile Prime Minister's expression told me he might know something I didn't.
But what if you have two official homes? Should I stay or should I go? To be honest Justin, I’d much rather stay in Mexico and wake up to glorious sunshine.
Decision: Hunker down, see what happens.
A month in and things were good in Cabo. No reported Covid19 cases. Then a plane load of American college students came down for their spring break and left behind vomit and empty red solo cups and covid19. Still, only a few cases popped up. Some restrictions and closures were announced as a preventative.
Things only got a bit dicey when my flight in May was unceremoniously cancelled. Then my medical insurance lapsed. I had survived the swine flu outbreak
Trails are Open
ISO is hard. Finding an empty trail to hike during the day is priceless
here in Mexico years back. Could I be two times lucky?
My decision to return to Canada came after a few dodgy incidents occurred around my neighborhood that made me flash back to previous experiences after disasters hit Los Cabos. Pockets of looting and random assaults, targeting just Gringos.
The community center I volunteer at and grow food for had devised a contingency to hand out food parcels to our local families should things get desperate. It was a small reassurance for my broken heart as I reluctantly packed.
I shelled out more money than I’d like to admit and managed to find the last seat on the last airplane out of San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, and arrived back to Canada, with little fanfare.
Since then, the world has gone off, like sour milk.
Me being a social introvert, I live for isolation. Quarantine is a breeze. As much as I love people, I quite easily can go days upon days comfortably without talking to another person.
My 14 day mandatory traveler’s lockdown went by in a flash, I could have done another 14. But then the call came and I was told
Glorious Spring in Chilliwack
Still can go hiking alone during the quarantine
I needed to report back to work. That too was mandatory.
As usual, my employer did not pre-plan or react timely to this imminent threat...they’ve always been a bit Trumpish that way....and now they are in massive damage control.
Most of my shifts are in the intensive care unit aka Covid-19 wing of the local hospital, up to my eyeballs in PPE, watching a ward of people on ventilators struggle to breath. It's terrifying.
These are difficult, uncomfortable times. We all have to do our part. Besides, we’re Canadians, so we’ve got this.
After each shift, I strip off my uniform at my car, put it in a garbage bag, wipe down everything with industrial sanitizer, and drive home. Sometimes I have a little cry. Like all front-line essential workers, I'm just trying not to get sick. Trying not to bring it home to my loved ones. Trying not to go a little nutty.
Instinctually, in times like these I would just run away. Go travel. But the jokes on me. International borders are closed and there are no planes in the sky. So, I do the next best thing. I go hiking. It’s the
Fields of tulips with no one to look at them. Usually hordes of Insta photographers are posing their hearts out. Not this year.
only way I know how to decompress in this new restrictive world.
If you’ve never been to these parts of Canada, you’ll be super impressed by the amount of forested hiking trails we have less than five minutes away from downtown Chilliwack.
Depending on the day, I try to pick unpopulated trails so I can practice social distancing while enjoying the fresh air and the beauty of nature all around me.
Speaking of. I thought it was an anomaly, but something magical is happening to this world. Did you notice? It is becoming quieter, less hectic. The skies are bluer. Clearer. The air is fresher. More birds and critters are venturing out.
Apparently they can see the Himalayas in Delhi. First time in 30 years! And in Beijing, you don’t have to chew the air first, you just breathe it in.
Is Mother Earth finally getting that much needed break from her 7.8 billion asshole children?
Amongst all the negativity that comes with a pandemic, is it too soon to think we all could take away something positive from Covid19? Hell no.
Maybe it’s that reboot everyone needed to reassess what is really
Toilet Paper woes.
Not one package anywhere!
important in life.
Time to take back the controls. Make family connections. Get back to basics, and get off this capitalism rollercoaster we’ve been on since the 90’s. Buy local. Plant a garden. Barter. Live simply. Use alternate energy. Save the. Gulp. Planet?
Yet you turn on any news media and they are all about conspiracies and economical bail outs and fear mongering. In a time where we need to come together, everyone feels obligated to pick a side.
I actually saw the words “Great Depression” floating in mid-air above the news anchor on this morning’s newscast while I ate my Cheerios.
Millennials are like, “I’m already on meds for that.”
Meanwhile, the Baby Boomers are doubling up on toilet paper, checking their food hordes and digging out their bunkers. They remember.
And what about that flaming insanity called Fox News debating whether covid19 is sexually transmitted, while at the same time summarizing their plans to sue Wuhan for economical damages, only to be interrupted by their tangerine president, who is currently recommending dettol smoothies? On a loop. Going round and round. Making people like my 76 year old father slowly go insane.
Look Up, Look Way Up
Nature all around. The air seems crisper, the colours more intense. The Earth loves the human ISO.
If I could wish for one thing, it would be no more sensational news coverage. Either that or I’m going to need a tinfoil hat to block it all out.
Meanwhile, I have to figure out how to buy some toilet paper seeds to grow in my back garden. Stat. How shocking and sad is it to walk into any grocery store In Chilliwack these days and find the shelves empty. Come on people. No one needs to hoard, price gouge, or profiteer. In Canada? Shame on you.
Just know, the end is NOT nigh.
Like I was saying, minus the serious lack of TP here in Canada, the pandemic lockdown has been very productive for me. It’s now mid-May and these two months have flown by. Here in Canada, I’ve renovated a spare bedroom, done all my garden chores, read 5 dusty hardcovers from the pile I never ever get to. Almost finished Netflix. Pruned an entire vineyard.
I’m not supposed to, but I sneak out of the house and drive to the park entrances so I can go for my daily hikes. While I plod along, I daydream about places I have yet to
Teapots at Teapot
Us Canadians have a fun sense of of whimsical. There are over 1000 teapots all along this trail.
visit in this world. I take in all five senses around me, and an incredible feeling of calm and wellness envelopes my soul.
Teapot Hill is my old standard. Nice little jaunt up a 5km loop with a vista view of Cultus lake at the end.
Chilliwackeans have been making thIs trail, whimsical. At Teapot Hill. Teapots. Thousands of them. Right along the overgrown but well-trodden trail, some hidden in plain sight, some arranged painstakingly by parkour athletes. It’s like Alice in Wonderland on steroids amongst the mossy old growth trees. i usually spot a teapot I’ve never seen before on each venture. It makes me smile.
One summer a few years back, the City of Chilliwack bylaw officers tried to put a stop to this practice by removing all the teapots and posting cease and desist notices at the park. Not even a month later, hundreds of teapots reappeared, some in even cheekier arrangements, hidden in plain sight.
More threatening notices from the city were posted in all the local newspapers. More teapots materialized. At one point, for every teapot removed, five more would magical reappear. The city of Chilliwack finally gave in.
is great for that.
Although I wish I could be planning my next trip. Right now, life is on hold. And that’s ok.
Don’t despair my fellow travel bloggers. We’ll be traveling again in no time, and writing the hell out of it.
In the meantime, I wish you all a healthy few months, and a virtual hug for all those in essential services, and whether you are home or abroad, please be safe.
Cheers from Canada
Andrea aka Cabochick
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Hi Andrea, It's lovely to hear your warm & thoughtful comments through the ether. Here in the UK I am struck by the contrast between the quiet resilience of the general population and the panic-stations coverage in the news. If I had been abroad at the start of this I am sure I would have chosen to hunker down for the duration, a decision I would be severely regretting by now. Thank you for your service. Stay safe, stay kind.
Thank you for your kind words Mark. Hopefully this is just a blip on our path and we will move forward, get back to traveling and meeting other kind souls in this world. I think you Brits say, Keep calm and carry on? The British had it right all these years.
If there is no one around to see it, did it really happen?
The intrigue of this virus it is that it cannot be seen, heard, smelt, touched or tasted. It hides, ambushes and strikes the unwary, the unlucky, the vulnerable, the non-isolating, the many. Yet its greatest strength is it is uncertain...we do not know when it will pounce, whether a vaccine will be found, whether we or future generations will be around to say if it truly happened. So...as the Number One choice for music at funerals in the UK tells us...don't grumble...just purse your lips and whistle...Always look on the bright side of life! Hang in there Andrea and keep up the essential work. You are a Champion.
I always knew you were a fellow Monty Python fan! I’ve found myself whistling that very tune when the chips are down. Hope you and the missus Denise are staying safe...and Dancing!!!
D MJ Binkley
Dave and Merry Jo Binkley
Writing the hell out of it.....
A good description of things we are all dealing with. I am a social butterfly but have been surprised how easy it has been staying home and reflecting on our world. It is fantastic watching the pollution clear up and animals roam free. Thank you for sharing the story about teapot hill. How lovely. I hope to see that some day.
I’ve thought of you both during this crisis. Wasn’t sure if you were working. Glad to hear you are doing well and finding the time off not too isolating. I do hope you come visit Canada one day. I’ll take you up ol’ Teapot Hill for sure!
Greetings from rural, mountainous Colorado where we wait patiently for the snow to peel off and open up higher places. Normally we would be running off to the Utah high desert while looking forward to trips to Costa Rica and Italy instead of making beautiful tomato seedlings and canceling reservations all over the globe. What would we give for stern, virile glances from Trudeau right now, the thought makes me swoon both intellectually and politically. Alas we have more than one plague to deal with right now. Every plane traveling from LA and Phoenix to anywhere typically flies through our airspace, now only a contrail or two in the sky during the day - I think the stories of what happens when Earth's 7.8 billion idiot children stay home for a while are amazing - in some places we can witness a post-human world while we're still in it. Fascinating. Sending best wishes from your neighbor to the south! Alisa :)
Well Hello! So glad to hear from you and so pleased you have hunkered down with your tomato plants for the time being. Stay safe! Costa Rica and Italy will always be there. I think we all are being given a gentle reminder that there is no place like home! Who knew Mother Earth was actually the Wizard if Oz?!
PS, thank you for fighting the good fight on the front lines. I have several friends and relatives working in ERs and have heard first hand how their lives have changed and the emotional and physical challenges they are facing. Take care of you.
Oh yes! Bless all the ER and hospital staff. I watch them up close every shift and they are exhausted but still fighting the good fight. Honestly such amazing, dedicated people. The stuff they do. They are my heroes.
John and Sylvia
John Wallace & Sylvia Bowman Wallace
I cried when I read this blog
Hi Andrea. Although it is some years since I worked in ER, I do remember the tragedies and the sadness. Thank you for posting this blog.
Thank you for all your service those many years. I stand by and watch as the most dedicated ER staff work diligently on the sick criminals I bring them. Their compassion and top notch care always makes me tear up. Health care workers are a special breed and deserve all the accolades. Bless them all.
Andy and Ali Bell
Loved the teapots
Andrea, great to hear from you - you never fail to raise a smile. Much respect for all you are doing at present - you had Ali wringing her hands with guilt. Stay safe and fingers-crossed that this will not be a very (very) lengthy merry-go-round. What weird-fish would want to remove the teapots? So glad they prevailed. Best wishes from sleepy (long may it stay that way) Tad Lo, Andy n Ali.
Well hello you guys! Thanks for checking in, I’m glad to hear all is well on your end of the pond. Please stay safe in jolly ol’ and enjoy these days of ISO. Future travel awaits. Cheers!
D MJ Binkley
Dave and Merry Jo Binkley
The joys of blackberries!
When you are in travel quarantine you are forced to peer deep into your freezer, past the dried out fish fingers, and ta-da! Margaritas! ISO like this is a piece of cake!
As always, prolific writing
I am in Kyiv now. It started as business last year and has turned into a life. I also thought about return to the USA with the pandemic, but decided my fate is with winds and I feel comfortable with my choices. Love you're hiking daily to keep sanity. BC is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Peace and purpose. Take care.
Hi Eric! Thanks so much for the well wishes. Same to you. It sounds like you made the best choice to stay in Kyiv rather than return to the US at this point. Sometimes fate just helps things along. Be sure to stay safe.
Home and Away
People seem to know when to push back against an overbearing government. I think that is happening now in the States. The police can't arrest everyone!
Ah ha! You spotted my subliminal message under the teapots! Well done.
Glad you are making the best of the situation
And thanks for your service! Like you, I don't have a problem with social distancing, I have always been a bit of a loner anyway. But things are not so bad here. Borders between Holland and Germany have remained open throughout and social restrictions have been less strict then elsewhere (except for Sweden, where it's even less strict), plus living on the countryside there is more freedom anyhow. We have a huge garden, so plenty to do. In fact, nothing much has changed for me. I even managed to go down to Germany and visit my girlfriend, and she returned to Holland with me after, leaving only yesterday. It's good you are hiking around nature (and that you have that possibility), it all looks very beautiful.
Hi Ralf! Glad to hear you are making the best of the situation. I assumed the travel restrictions were stricter in Europe, so it’s a surprise that you can move around as you are. I agree, being in the countryside and working on a garden makes it feel like nothing is wrong. I love it. I do feel bad for those cooped up in the city apartments. After I completed my 14 day travel quarantine I did some vineyard work at my parents farm. Now that I’m back at work I cannot risk another visit/stay with them. In Canada, especially here in BC the crisis was managed very well and restrictions are now being lifted. I still can’t get used to lineups outside every store. It feels very communist!
Strange Days Indeed
Thank you for your very positive and honest travel blog during these strange times. Even though we are thousands of miles away here in the UK, so much of what you say also rings true here. I also noticed a strong comeback in nature, particularly with the birds singing, as the traffic and cars slowed down. I have also come to appreciate the smaller, subtler things in life. And I completely agree with you on your wishes for there to be no more sensational news coverage, I think many of us have come to a similar conclusion. Great blog Andrea, and thanks for the encouragement that we will all hopefully be travelling again soon, in the not-too-distant future ?
Waving to you from across the pond!
Hi Alex! Hope you and yours are keeping well. These are strange and difficult times, eh? I am learning the new normal and finding I can cope fairly well as my life already embraced social distancing. I do miss my extended family and friends, there have been milestone birthdays and illnesses I would normally attend, but cannot now. A simple hug seems almost foreign. And lastly I’m missing travel. As I’m sure all TBloggers are. I don’t even dare plan anything as to not jinx it. Take care, and thanks for the lovely feedback on my blog! Cheers.
Thanks Andrea. I agree also with everything you say here. It's comforting at least to know that such strange and difficult times indeed are shared, and that we are not alone. Me and mine are all well thanks, and I hope you and yours are too. I look forward to reading about the resurgences in travel when we all start travelling again, hopefully soon. Take care too.
Ake Och Emma
Ake Dahllof and Emma Holmbro
We'd love to go on that hike
We have also done a fair share of hiking this summer. The Teapot Hill seem to be a bit special though. We'd love to go there. So you are one of those who work in the ICU wards. I have heard enough stories about the daily life there to know that I do not want to get Covid-19. Take care. /Ake