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

At the end of the first day, we got to Marshall, Texas. It is virtually impossible to drive through the state of Texas in one day, but Marshall had been our goal and we were thrilled. There was no problem getting a hotel room, which raised some red flags in my mind, but we both donned latex gloves, carried our luggage into the room, and then I took command. Nothing was put away or set down until I’d disinfected all surfaces, switch plates, electrical outlets, door handles, and bathroom fixtures. Once that task was completed, we walked across the parking lot to the Subway store, bought take out subs, went back to the room, and didn’t go out again until we left the next morning.

On Day Two we got to Effingham, Illinois just as the governor announced that all restaurants and bars would be closed for all but takeout food, effective at midnight. We followed the same disinfection routine on arrival at our hotel, as we had the previous day. On our way out to the Panera Bread across the street, we encountered five other guests in the hotel. One was an exhausted looking Canadian woman who warned us we had to get home before Wednesday when “Trudeau is shutting down the border.” This was Monday night, we had one day left to drive to get to the Detroit Windsor border, we’d make it.

We were the only people walking outside on the street; it was dark, cold and gave off an eerie feeling. The Panera Bread restaurant was warm inside, well lit, but completely empty. From a distance of six feet, we ordered our food, and carried it back to our hotel. It felt like we were actors in a Rod Serling movie.

The next morning, we were up early and drove the rest of the way home. We arrived at the Detroit/Windsor International Bridge at 3:45 pm, waited fifteen minutes to reach the Customs Agent’s booth, where we were asked the usual questions about what we were bringing into the country. A question regarding our health status was an add-on. The Agent handed us a one page, double-sided document from the Public Health Agency of Canada with instructions regarding self isolation. He asked if we understood that the Government of Canada expected all Canadians returning from abroad, to self isolate. Were we prepared to do that, he asked? We assured him we were. It seemed like a small price to pay to be back in Canada, where once again, we felt safe.

We live in a 55+ golf and RV resort built around a golf course. The resort contains about one hundred and twenty manufactured homes that could be lived in throughout the winters. Its streets are deserted because not everyone who lives here is back from the sunny south yet. But those of us who have crossed the border, have been instructed to self isolate. We are all self isolating. If we encounter one another on the street, each person intuitively backs away to keep a six foot physical distance from the other, we speak briefly and carry on. Each one declares how thankful s/he is to be back in Canada. Some people grumble that this is all a hoax, drama from the media. My response is always the same: “I hope you’re right, but just in case, let’s follow the government’s self-isolation and social distancing rules til we find out for sure.” This usually ends the conversation.


house on the Wildwood Golf & RV Resort

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


Continue to read part 2: Self-Isolation and Coronavirus

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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