I first heard about the virus – it was then called Corona like the Mexican beer – when we were in the Caribbean enjoying a winter get away. It was the beginning of March 2020, when a world-wide panic took hold of governments, the media and most annoying the airlines. Flights were cancelled, frantically rebooked just to be cancelled again; protocols were rolled out, mandates proclaimed and rescinded, leaving everyone in a state of suspended disbelieve and confusion. Is it Ebola or SARS, is it deadly and where is it? Contagion, respiratory failure and lonely, horrific death outcomes were all in the cards. Who has it, where does it come from, how do we safeguard against it?

            We were stranded on a small island and suddenly we had to figure out how to get back to Canada. Trudeau told everyone to get back home asap but when Air Canada cancelled all its flights it wasn’t so easy. We made it back on the last flight out. The airport in Grenada was pandemonium with people literally falling over each other to get on their respective flights out. I have never seen anything like it. Nobody had a clue what was going on and a sense of panic, mixed with fear and confusion permeated everything. Finally, flying at cruising altitude towards Toronto we relaxed. ‘It’s going to be okay. Everything will be fine.’ Nobody wore masks and a few rows behind us somebody was hacking and coughing. 

            At Pearson we found a place on the 3rd floor, right at the end of the terminal, where we could bed down for the night. We were not alone and lucky to find a bench that wasn’t occupied. Never mind a hotel. We were going to camp right here, in the terminal, ready to catch the first flight home, to Vancouver, at 7AM. A taxi from the airport to Horseshoe Bay, a ferry ride, and we were home again. Still, we had no idea what was going on and all we knew was that some nasty virus was infecting the world, putting people in hospital and even into the grave and travellers like us into quarantine for two weeks. We hunkered down and isolated as best we could. 

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Together we flail

We were sitting on a bench by the sea shore, six feet apart, enjoying the warm spring weather, breaking another silly law: drinking in public. That’s because one of Muriel’s and Camp’s neighbours complained to the town council about us sitting on Camp’s front porch, disrespecting distancing guidelines. I never thought I’d see neighbours denouncing neighbours, not for hiding illegal aliens, but for acting normal. Clare put it bluntly: ‘This virus outbreak will bring out the worst in people and the best. People will rally to help and support each other or rat each other out.’

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