home sweet home

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.

The trip:

  • 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.

IMG_1842

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.

the honeymoon comes to an end

A celebratory mimosa, bacon pancakes and black coffee (apparently fried rice for Jordan) went down well as our last breakfast of the honeymoon. You couldn’t keep us out of the water that morning. We absorbed every last bit of Vanuatu, snorkelling, paddle boarding and appreciating this wondrous island.

_MG_3569

On our way out of the resort, we were escorted right to the shuttle bus and seen off by all the staff that were currently on. The bus ride to the airport was quiet. Neither of us wanted to go back home, knowing the biggest time of year awaited us at work and the aftermath of the wedding, and also the stresses of our new house We sat in silence, hand in hand, staring out the window, just wanting to catch a plane to another country, keep on travelling. Unfortunately, time, funds, commitments and responsibilities were slightly more important than wearing nothing but underwear inside a little hotel room as it rains, looking over the Seine river reading a book or snowboarding in Whistler, flask of fireball in hand. It was peaceful though. We watched everyone go about their day to day and got to see some of the towns that we quad biked through, again.

The airport was packed. There were three flights leaving all in the space of two hours. Once we past through security, everyone funnelled into this tiny little departure lounge with a 5mx5m duty free shop, two tacky gift shops and a counter that sold ice cream and alcohol. The rest of the room was filled up with people. Lots and lots of sweaty people frustrated and annoyed that the flights were delayed. We sat on the floor in the corner of the room, as all the seats were taken – the door to the VIP lounge would open every couple minutes, forging a gust of cool air our way, making it bearable. Once we finally boarded our 110 minute delayed flight to Brisbane, we checked our connecting flight to Adelaide. It didn’t look like we were going to make it. Up in the air, everyone had gotten so hungry, including us, that they sold out of basically all their food.

As we were landing, the hosts went through all the connecting flights and ones that were cancelled. We still didn’t know what we were doing until we got off the plane. Someone was holding a sign with our name on it. As we approached, she proceeded to hand us a bundle of papers including a cab fair card, times for bus shuttles, a $50 food voucher each and our booking sheet for our hotel room – SCORE! The airline had organised us a hotel room to stay in for the night, as we had already missed our flight. When we got to the hotel, we made sure to use the entire $100 on delish takeout from the joint restaurant downstairs and even watched a movie, savouring an extra night of the honeymoon. Pitifully, we had to get up really, really early the next morning as they had placed us on the earliest flight back to Adelaide.