I woke up before the alarm rang with a sense of dread and urgency. “Where do we go today, again? Oh right, Canada. Shit.”
I got dressed and rushed downstairs for a last, quick walk around the block. It was still early and people in the street looked about as happy as I was—September 1 was back-to-school day for students, back to the daily grind for millions of French.
I sighed. At least, technically, we were travelling and I would get to see Feng by the end of the day, one of these endless days that stretches between continents and time zones.
But first, I had to make sure to catch the 10:31 a.m. bus to the airport.
“Mark, put on your shoes! WHY ARE YOU OPENING YOUR BAG? Nobody is opening anything I packed!”
Packing is a tedious chore, and packing my backpack plus Mark’s is double the fun. It should be simple, really—clothing, toiletries, electronics and cords. But the concept of dirty and clean pants is apparently confusing (“Mark, you can’t pack everything, you still need clothes to, you know, travel”) and there was always something to add, from marbles to a copy of Lonely Planet France Mark insisted on taking for the trip.
I thought he was going to ask me to pack the cat at one point.
As for me, I was trying to figure out how to fit a few Lindt chocolate bars in my backpack—priorities, I know.
“All good? Let’s go!”
Once downstairs, Mark turned around to say goodbye.
“Because you’re going to cry?”
We did catch the 10:31 a.m. bus and arrived at the airport 20 minutes later. We joined the Air Transat lineup to get our boarding passes, then we went through security and border control. The airport was busy but the whole process was pretty smooth.
“We would like to remind all passengers that masks must be worn at all times during the flight to Canada.”
Honestly, at this stage, I’m not sure what’s the point considering we were all maskless at the airport and we would be again—up to you, obviously—when arriving in Canada. Whatever. I’m more annoyed with other remaining COVID measures, namely the ArriveCAN app. Why do I have to keep an app on my phone just to enter Canada? Why do I have to risk a 14-day quarantine if I don’t fill it out 48 hours before flying? What does it have to do with the pandemic, exactly? How does it help?
That said, other than certifying about a million times that we don’t have a fever and any symptom whatsoever, travelling is much easier than it was in 2020 and 2021—no more quarantine if vaccinated, no more pre-departure and arrivals tests (except if selected once in Canada).
It was a different aircraft this time, not a 2x4x2 seating arrangement like when we came to France, but a 3x4x3 and the plane was full of crying babies.
Or maybe I was just in a bad mood because I didn’t feel like coming back to Canada.
Once we landed, 7.20 hours later, a long series of lineups started. First to deplane, because we had to take a bus to the terminal. Then upstairs, in the terminal, long before border control. Then at the self-service kiosks for the custom declaration, then at passport control, then around the luggage carrousel where it was complete mayhem with hundreds of luggage scattered everywhere waiting for their owner presumably stuck in a lineup, then at the final custom control point.
Feng was waiting for us and seeing him was the highlight of the day.
We’re back, and I’m not sure what the months ahead will hold (but apparently, no one knows these days, so…).