After 2 months of being in America during the outbreak of Corona Virus in China, my husband and I decided to heed the call of our school to return to Guangzhou. We knew there would be risks associated with our decision. And it seems that the worst case situation has actually taken place for us. Usually my life is so charmed, how can this be?
Well, I got time to tell you. Lots of time. Like 12 more days in a shitty hotel room amount of time.
Let’s start with a little context with a favorite organization tool of mine.
Husband and myself. All people entering China from “epidemic areas” which includes the USA since a few days ago. Teachers from my school who were told to return by March 15.
As the pandemic grows in both Europe and the USA, it has largely subsided in China. The Chinese lockdown measures, albeit Draconian, have worked and life is returning to normal, schools soon hope to re-open their campuses. Daily international travel has become more and more difficult, with cancelled flights, transits blocked of different nationalities, among other things. My school specifically told their staff to return by March 15 so we could be ready to go back to work when the government allowed schools to reopen. There is a 14-day in country quarantine required before returning to work so the school wants boots on the ground.
The global pandemic has made so that the rules of the game keep changing. We left Portland, OR on Wednesday, March 18. We travelled through Vancouver, CA with a direct flight to Guangzhou, China. On that Wednesday Trump announced that the board with Canada would shut soon, maybe the next day? The flight to Vancouver was very empty but the flight to Guangzhou was completely full.
As we entered the plane, the stewardess handed each passenger a plastic bag full of stuff. This was our rations for the 13-hour flight: 2 small bottles of water, a variety of prepackaged rolls and cookies, 1 fun-size snickers.
When we arrived at the airport, we sat on the plane for over 2 hours and then it took another 9 hours of waiting, forming lines and filling out the same information on different forms before we were loaded into busses meant for different sections of the city for the night quarantine. All this time there was no access to food and water.
We are in a hotel room, room 1217 to be exact in a non-descript ugly hotel. I believe it is costing us $100 each night to be here. Take away, cheap and small portions of food are left outside our door 2x a day. The wifi is mostly non-functional. The TV is all in Chinese. Our window is locked shut, the heat is turned up too high. My supplemental food and instant coffee will soon run out. We were not prepared to be here for 14-days.
We are caught in quarantine here because our apartment complex refuses to let us fulfill our 14-day quarantine in our apartment. They have made up some excuses about potential work on water pipes, but probably it is just xenophobia. They don’t want to deal with us and scare the other people who live there who will assume we have the virus. My principal wrote a letter to our Board to plead with them to intervene, basically because if we are here for 2 weeks we can’t really work. And to my school that is my only and limited value.
I used to drink with the best of them, but I don't anymore. My life is so much better for it.
-Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp