Flight from Coronavirus – and Return to Canada (part 1)

Bob and I were enjoying one of the best-weather winters in South Texas in many years. We planned to stay til April 1, as we always do, but in early March the coronavirus news just couldn’t be ignored any longer.. Our adult children back in Canada, were urging us every day to come home NOW. My fourteen year old granddaughter, Ella, texted me to say in awe “Gramma, guess what? Our school is closed for the next three weeks.  March break starts next week and any teachers and students who are going out of the country for the week have to self isolate when they come back.”  I had been reading, somewhat distractedly, about this Canadian government requirement, but her words brought them home to me in a sledge hammer kind of way. The very next day, the company which owns our Texas retirement resort suddenly announced that all group activities of greater than 10 people were banned. That was the day we decided we had to leave ASAP.

Many of our American neighbours also decided to return to their home states, and many of our Canadian friends decided to stay on. Some were coerced into staying by scheduled repairs to their trucks or trailers; others who had no home but their trailer or motor home, had nowhere to go. Most RV parks in Ontario don’t open til May 1. But other Canadian travellers just weren’t ready to leave the beautiful south Texas weather. This made no sense to me; I did not want to get stranded in the US with expired out-of-country travel insurance.

We spent two days putting all our outdoor furniture in the shed, packing the car, and emptying out the fridge. The day before we left, Bob drained the hot water heater and in the morning, turned off the water supply to the house. Those two days did not hurry by, the way they had over the past four, carefree months. We worried about how to protect ourselves from exposure to the virus every time we got out of the car over the three day drive home. We had breakfast and lunch food in the cooler, but we’d have to stop for gas, bathroom breaks, and for the two nights we’d have to stay in hotels. The basic infection control plan we devised was immediately thwarted by lack of supplies. We couldn’t buy disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizers or toilet paper! The store shelves were empty. We could manage without the latter, but the former were critical to our plan. I googled a recipe for home made disinfectant, only to discover that the main ingredient, bottle of sixty per cent plus alcohol, was elusive. When we finally found it, we bought enough for our friends who would also need it. Once mixed up in a concentration of two parts alcohol and one part Aloe Vera, the disinfectant was caustic to the skin. Luckily, Bob found  some disposable latex gloves and we were set. We left Texas on the morning of March 15, just as rumours were brewing that the Canadian Government was getting ready to close the border between Canada and the United States. Our kids urged us on, texting regular updates for the next three days. We far exceeded my comfort zone by driving six hundred miles each day, but we were both afraid of what might happen to impede our return so I agreed to hurry.

MORE pages to follow: click the page numbers below!
house on the Wildwood Golf & RV Resort

Our house on the Wildwood Golf & RV Resort in Essex, ON

Barbara Tiessen is a retired RN who lives with her husband in southwestern Ontario but winters in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. She researched her genealogy, wrote and self published The Schoenfeld Russlaender: A Mennonite Family's History in 2015. More recently her interest have focused on writing short stories.
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