Saturday, May 16, 2020

When the world got a virus

 I have been extraordinarily lucky with timing. I left Japan late February, spent 4 weeks in Australia catching up with family and friends, travelled interstate to go on a tramping trip, then flew back to NZ just before they closed the borders. Don't get me wrong, I was acutely aware of the escalating situation, taking considerable care with distancing and personal hygiene in public places during my entire time travelling back from Japan and whilst travelling in Oz. Then 2 days before I was due to fly back to NZ the NZ Government introduced mandatory self isolation for all international arrivals. 

I had to make a decision whether to return to WA, or stick with my original plan, knowing that it would be highly likely borders would close completely and I would be stuck living wherever that was for the next 12 months minimum. I didn't know whether the NZ ski fields would even open for the winter, especially as ski fields were rapidly closing all over Europe and North America as COVID spread rapidly. 

I decided to continue on to NZ, knowing I wouldn't be spending my summer windsurfing in Geraldton, or skiing in Japan. A summer of tramping in NZ sounded like a perfectly good alternative, although you could be forgiven for noticing I need either a significant eye injury or a world pandemic to keep me away from either of the above!!

Of course things escalated pretty quickly once I got to NZ. I travelled on my Kiwi passport, washed my hands religiously whilst passing through each airport terminal and flew to Queenstown on an almost empty plane. I was met at Queenstown Airport by health officials who took my details and informed me of my need to self isolate, and quarantine officials did their usual thorough job of inspecting and cleaning all my camping gear. Karen, my flatmate in Wanaka, had kindly driven over to pick me up, and I patiently sat in the back seat to stay distanced and waited in the PaknSave carpark whilst she did my grocery shopping! Karen's summer flatmate was also in Australia on holiday, but she decided to stay there so I was able to move back into my old bedroom.

A week later the entire country went into Lockdown. Level 4 for 5 weeks, and a further 2 weeks at Level 3. Aside from going to the supermarket (after my mandatory 2 weeks at home were over) we were restricted to low risk activities close to home. That meant walking, running, cycling....packrafting not allowed.

I decided to start jogging to improve my fitness, but a week into that I jarred my back and spent the next couple of weeks in pain without access to my trusty masseur Marlene who would have sorted it in no time. Instead I stretched and went on walks along the Clutha River.

I celebrated my birthday during Lockdown. Karen baked me a cake, and I purchased a nice bottle of champagne. 

And in another example of needing a world pandemic to get something done, I asked my neighbour in Geraldton to find a hard drive full of video footage and send over to me. Then I sat down and began editing a trip to Tanzania I did with my good friend Naomi back in the early noughties, before she had kids. She is hoping to see the footage before her kids leave home!

Unfortunately the lockdown didn't last long enough. I got to a point where staring at a computer screen all day began to drive me bananas, and as we transitioned into Level 3 we were able to go on longer walks, and include a couple of other people in our bubbles. Sue and Graham lent me an old bike they had lying around, so that gave me a few more opportunities to get out of the house. The editing project is about 3/4 finished, and I have no idea when I'll get back to it....

I did a few day walks. One up the Fern Burn with Karen and her friend Deb.

Another up the adjoining Motatapu River track.

And then once we went to Level 2, I packed my bags, put on the tramping boots and headed up the Matukituki Valley for a multiday tramp.

That's next!

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