From Vacation to Isolation
Part One of "Two Years Ago Our World Changed"
Part One of “Two Years of Uncertainty”
Two years ago, in March of 2020, our family went on the first real vacation we had been on in quite some time. We flew to a small island east of where we live to enjoy a quieter rest than the tourist-saturated beaches of Bali could offer.
It was a beautiful time together as a family, a true sabbath rest. We got up each morning to enjoy breakfast at the beach. As we ate, enjoying the sound of waves retreating from their early morning high tide, the fishing boats dotted the background, their owners catching some of the fish we would be eating later in the day.
Over the course of three days, we swam in the pool, walked the beach, attempted snorkeling (though the waters were a little rough, making all of us a little nervous), kneeboarding, and enjoyed a nightly meal and the rustic little seafood cafe not too far down the beach from us.
Before we departed for this vacation, we had begun hearing some of the first whispers about Covid, but none of us could have imagined what would soon be coming. During our last two days at the beach, we began to hear about flights being canceled, and the news surrounding this virus became noticeably more intense.
On the night before our return home, I saw a headline that shocked me—the National Basketball Association in the United States was canceling the remainder of its season! Not long after that, I received a text from our supervisor instructing us to return home as soon as possible and not to leave our home once we got there.
The flight and drive home were eerily differing than a few days previous, and everyone seemed more on edge. We made it home safely and began what would become, though we did not know it at the time, an extended time of quarantine and isolation. Having returned from spring break, our kids never returned to school. Our oldest daughter’s planned birthday party was canceled. I did not go to campus to teach, and all of our regular routines were put on hold.
The following month, April, we decided to return to the States on one of the few flights out of the country that remained. We found someone willing to drive us to the airport, quickly packed a few bags for what we thought would be a three-month visit to the States, and hastily made arrangements for someone to stay in our home each night.
The afternoon before our morning departure the following day, our first flight was canceled. We frantically searched for other ways to get to Jakarta. We were planning to rent a car and driver to take on the ten-hour journey when we got the news that seats were available on an early morning flight out of town. Again, we frantically prepared to leave our house at 4 am the following morning rather than after lunch.
The change of flights meant that our already long journey to the U.S. would now begin with a 16-hour wait in the Jakarta airport, an airport normally jam-packed with people to the point of being uncomfortable. On this day, however, the airport was nearly empty, many of the restaurants were closed, and sixteen hours seemed like a lifetime.
Our flight itinerary looked something like this:
1-hour drive to the airport
(Did I even sleep at all last night? I don’t think so.)
1-hour flight to Jakarta
(Everybody in the country must be on this.)
16-hour wait in the Jakarta airport
(…with an overtired two-year-old and nothing to do.)
9-hour flight to Seoul, South Korea
(18 hours away from home, and the journey is just now getting started.)
11-hour wait in Seoul airport
(I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so tired.)
13-hour flight to Seattle, USA
( 38 hours in…so now it’s time for the longest flight of the journey. I wish I could sleep better on airplanes.)
2-hour wait in Seattle airport
(Starbucks in Seattle is closed…this pandemic must be serious…longest two hours ever…not sure I’m gonna make it!)
1-hour flight to Portland, Oregon
(This plane is tiny. 54 hours since we left home and probably 78 since we last slept in a bed…sounds like a good time for a five-hour drive)
5-hour drive to Coquille, Oregon
(Nearly 60 hours from start to finish…did we really just do that?)
We arrived in Coquille, Oregon, where my parents and my brother and his family live. The Coquille Church of the Nazarene graciously allowed us to quarantine for 14 days in the basement of their church building which was not being used.
We watched a couple of seasons of Monk.
I read The Good Earth by Pearl Buck.
We played basketball in the church parking lot.
Our toddler learned to ride a little bike for the first time.
Our two teens continued online school.
We walked circles around the church property for exercise.
People brought us delicious meals.
We slept and eventually began to feel somewhat normal again, but this journey of change was only just beginning.
This is Part One of a series called “Two Years of Uncertainty."
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