It’s official, we have returned home.
I’m currently sitting inside our humble abode amongst the hills, wearing some comfy activewear after a workout on the deck. I just ate some overnight oats with mango, as I listen to the sweet ‘hold’ music that myGov has graciously forced upon me. And when I say myGov, I’m hoping to soon have a positive outcome from Centrelink. And when I say Centrelink, I mean that I am completely and utterly unemployed.
Let me back up a bit, as most of you are aware (and if not, you have literally been living under a rock, about fifty feet down, in the middle of the desert), that COVID-19 has paralysed the economy and sent everyone into isolation. The virus has caused a drastic change in our plans, alike most, where we are simply taking life as it comes. I’d say we’ve done an above satisfactory job of staying calm and dealing with this logically.
Jordan and I were perusing through some of the shops in Whistler village when we overheard “Have you seen the emails? How about Vail closing the mountain..”. Yeah, a major shock to the system. Vail Resorts, the company that Jordan and I work for (or did work for?), the company that operated Whistler mountain and Blackomb mountain. The number in the red notification bubble, over the mail icon on my phone, grew and grew.
The next day we were called into work, at the roundhouse on top of the mountain, for a full clean and pack down of the restaurants and kitchens. Most of the emails suggested reevaluation of the sudden closure in a weeks time, but I remained wary. The packing up was extensive and not something you’d go to the trouble of doing unless you were shutting down for a while. Before boarding my beloved gondola back into the village, I said goodbye to the space I’d worked in for the past few months and made sure to take in the incredible view, knowing full well that I wouldn’t return this season. Content, I stepped in the gondola and enjoyed the ride one last time.
Our return flights were booked for approximately six weeks time, which was too far away. We decided ten days from then would be good, thinking that Vail may open the mountain again and we’d get a couple more snow days.
A couple days went past, as we learned that we had officially been laid off and the closure of the mountains for the rest of the season. The Core gym, that we attended daily, soon closed too, along with many of the retail stores and eateries. Whistler village was a ghost town. In light of very recent events, Jordan tried to see if we could change our flights again, with worry of not being able to return home. The prices had raised considerably and it was almost impossible. Luckily, Jordan didn’t give up and we secured seats on an earlier Cathay Pacific flight.
It was a long five days of hoping; hoping our flight wouldn’t be cancelled or and that we could still get out of Canada, hoping that we could still enter Australia and that we wouldn’t get sick, hoping that we wouldn’t get stuck in another country and that our bus to Vancouver wouldn’t cancel. A long list of hopes and a lot of prayers.
- Our bus did cancel, but we booked a different one.
- It snowed the morning we left. Our taxi driver informed us that road clearing had stopped and hopefully our bus would still go to Vancouver. The snow stopped for thirty minutes and begun again once we were out of Whistler.
- My amazing friend and inspiration, Brooke, farewelled us at the airport with a smile and an elbow bump. Our flight was delayed in Vancouver due to a medical emergency on the previous flight. We sat near the gate, as we watched two paramedics, ten or so police officers, two detectives and a handful of flight staff and cleaners wander on and off the flight bridge. The airline gave us food vouchers to use whilst we waited. The pilots made up time and we arrived in Hong Kong with time to spare.
- The Chinese government declared they were closing their borders. Our flight left at 12.05am, past the deadline, but was luckily exempted. The flight was also quite empty, they didn’t even bother bringing the food and drink carts down the aisles. I was able to stretch out across some seats and get some sleep.
- Our Sydney leg did cancel, but it was redirected to Melbourne. We moved through customs swiftly and munched on some hungry jacks in the domestic terminal. After passing the time with a couple games of ‘shitswitch’ (a game I learnt from Jordan and his best friend Jarred, where you use a normal deck of cards to play UNO and the winner is dealt one less card every round until someone has no cards left), a flight attendant came around checking the tickets of the ten or so people waiting at the gate. We learnt that they needed a minimum of two passengers in the exit rows to legally operate the aircraft and were struggling to find suitable occupants.
- Luckily, we arrived in Adelaide, and were chauffeured to our home in the hills by a double masked, sanitiser enthusiast and very kind mother-in-law. They issued everyone on the plane with forms regarding our compulsory fourteen day quarantine, that we filled out and handed to the police officers awaiting us as we disembarked the plane.
- Our house was super clean and our cupboards were filled with food. All our plants were thriving and Jordan’s grandma, Nana Di, had stocked us up with toilet paper and plenty of gluten free pasta and bread.
It’s day five of quarantine and we are very much delighted to be spending our isolation in our wonderful home. Coming back from a working holiday really highlighted the areas of my life that I am grateful for. From the pretty average work, expensive groceries and rent, and just lack of ‘things’, is not something that I was used to. On the first day of quarantine, I just felt completely overwhelmed with happiness. The property that I live on is wondrous, we have collected so much cool stuff over the past years, we have our own space, we are close to and with family, our families support is epic, we can smell and hear, taste and see, we are healthy and able to move around however we like., We really are so lucky and blessed to live where and how we do and I hope I never forget this feeling.
On another note, I am super sad not to be tearing up the slopes on my Nidecker board and I’m already planning a trip to visit another mountain this year. Hopefully the corona virus will settle down soon and we can continue what we enjoy and do best.