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Pandemic Quarantine Hotels in Canada and Freaking Out in Recife

I was expecting Recife to be less relaxing than Natal or João Pessoa because it’s a much bigger city, but I didn’t know the stress would come from international news.

I woke up when the bus started to stop everywhere in Recife’s suburb. Most passengers got off, I waited until the final stop, the rodoviária. It was just as I remembered it, a block of concrete lost in the jungle. “It’s 60 reais,” the taxi driver said. “The bus station is far—”

“—no worries, I know.”

My Airbnb was an apartment inside the Ramada Hotel building. I was on the first floor in João Pessoa, I was now on the 18th floor enjoying a dizzyingly high view of Boa Viagem, one of Recife’s neighbourhood.

Boa Viagem includes landmarks such as “the stinky canal” (not the actual name), “the blue church” (also not the actual name but a convenient description), “the beach,” “the mall,” “the airport” and two endless one-way way avenues that can take you to other suburbs or to the historical section of central Recife

There’s also a lone palm tree between two giant towers I can see from my window.

The next morning, I started to identify to the lone palm tree when I checked the news and learned that coming back to Canada was going to be much, much harder than planned.

On Friday morning, Canada introduced a new measure on top of the pre-boarding COVID test—a mandatory three-day hotel quarantine with more testing and a price tag of $2,000, plus more quarantine at home.

Go ahead, blame me for going travelling IN THE MIDDLE OF A PANDEMIC!

I’ve always been vaguely afraid of being publicly shamed but I’ve always thought it would be for my questionable parenting skills, not for travelling.

Over the years, I received weirdly passionate emails from complete strangers blaming me for having two citizenships (“disloyal bitch!”), saying I hate winter (“And you call yourself Canadian!”) having a biracial kid (“Stupid white mother robbing your child from his heritage!”) or random hot topic parenting issue (not breastfeeding long enough, mark not being perfectly bilingual, etc.).

And now we—well “I” since Feng and Mark came back already—are being blamed and punished for travelling. It came out of nowhere—again, when we left, there was no Ontario lockdown and messaging was more around holiday family gatherings (as in “don’t even think of it”). Of course, we knew we were taking a risk but it was still accepted to travel. For fuck’s sake, we flew Air Canada!

And now it’s not okay at all. Various politicians and public figures were fired for “holiday travel” in January. Canada is punishing us. Some restrictions make sense. Testing at departure, absolutely. Hell, I did it voluntarily when we left France last summer. Testing upon arrival? Sure. Being locked up under police surveillance? Yeah, no. And paying $2000 to come back?

I freaked out. Logistically and psychologically, I can’t imagine being put in “jail.” Isolating at home isn’t the same (and it’s still questionable after two fucking tests… Canadians don’t get tested on a daily basis, do they!)

I don’t expect any sympathy but I find these restrictions very scary.

I think in time of crisis we all have a few trump cards. Maybe you have a steady job right now, which is good because many people are affected by COVID-related restrictions. Maybe you have all your loved one close by, which is also good because, well, it’s comforting. My own trump card is my ability to travel. I know how to travel and I know how to do it responsibly.

I’m saving my sanity. I can’t be with my French family, I can’t really work (… my clients in the tourism industry aren’t exactly thriving right now…), I can’t do anything and I hate winter. So I left. I left because I’m better off wandering alone outside in Brazil and stuck at home in Canada.

I called Feng.

“Yeah… well, if this is implemented next week, you won’t make it. Not even if you jump in the next plane. Not with pre-departure test.”

“I don’t want to be locked up.”

“Just enjoy Brazil. Don’t think about it for now.”

I’m trying not to. But I’m still freaking out—not just for me, not just for this trip, but about a world where you can’t travel.

Taken from R. Visc. de Jequitinhonha, Boa Viagem, Recife
Taken from R. Visc. de Jequitinhonha, Boa Viagem, Recife
Taken from R. Visc. de Jequitinhonha, Boa Viagem, Recife
Taken from R. Visc. de Jequitinhonha, Boa Viagem, Recife
Taken from R. Visc. de Jequitinhonha, Boa Viagem, Recife
Taken from R. Visc. de Jequitinhonha, Boa Viagem, Recife
Taken from R. Visc. de Jequitinhonha, Boa Viagem, Recife
Taken from R. Visc. de Jequitinhonha, Boa Viagem, Recife
Taken from R. Visc. de Jequitinhonha, Boa Viagem, Recife
Taken from R. Visc. de Jequitinhonha, Boa Viagem, Recife
Taken from R. Visc. de Jequitinhonha, Boa Viagem, Recife
Taken from R. Visc. de Jequitinhonha, Boa Viagem, Recife

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