It has been awhile since I wrote, but not a lot has happened. I had been in lockdown for almost 10 weeks when I had decided to take advantage of the repatriation flights that were offered. They were expensive and a logistic nightmare as I had to get from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town to catch the flight. However, we were till in lockdown level 4 and it didn’t seem as though things were changing anytime soon, so I decided to cut my losses and head home.
On May 7, I received a note from the Canadian Embassy that South African Airlines was offering a flight. I decided I was going to get on this one, but then they wanted a wire transfer and that is when things got complicated. The only way they would accept payment was through an EFT (Electronic Bank Transfer) and into a South African bank account or a US bank account. Being a Canadian citizen I had neither of those and could not transfer the money like that. A very nice new friend of mine offered to help me, but she said it was suspicious and I decided not to take the flight. As she said, this would not be my last opportunity and maybe wait and see how things go over the next couple of week. Maybe things would improve? Besides I was not having a bad time with my new friends on our camino hikes in the mornings so was not too upset.
She was right, on May 16 the embassy sent me an email saying there was a flight on Ethiopian Airlines and they would take credit card. I decided to take the flight and head home. She also put me in touch with another Canadian trying to get home from PE.
I did not hear from Ethiopian airlines for days so assumed the flight was not going or that I was not on it. I had contacted the other Canadian who was actually South African but lived in TO for 30 years and she said she would drive to Cape Town. I continued my week of camino hikes assuming I was not leaving. Our hikes were coming to an end as we were almost at the finish line. Tuesday was our last camino hike.
On Saturday, I still had not heard back and again assumed I was not on the flight. Then I get an email from Ethopian Airlines and there was room for me on the flight. SO, I decided to take the flight and was ready for another adventure. Ros , the other Canadian I had met had told me she was already going to Cape Town to stay with her brother. She had decided not to take the flight and wait for the British Airlines flight that was coming next week. So, on Wednesday I started packing, told Marina I was leaving and then told my landlords, June and Stephen. It was a bit of a shock for everyone (including myself). I was not entirely sure about my decision, but had already paid Ethopian airlines and decided it was for the best.
The Journey to Cape Town
I got up this morning at 6 am and did my last minute packing. Wow, it is crazy that I am leaving! It was bound to come to an end, but I did not necessarily think this way! Anyways, life is full of surprises! You never know when a pandemic is going to happen!
Ros picked me up at 7:30 am, I said my good byes and off we went to pick up the rental car. Of course, when we got to the rental car shop, they would not take her credit card because they needed to do a security check. An hour and half later we were off to Cape Town after Ros’s mom ended up putting it on her credit card. It was a whirl wind trip of the garden route-the route that Devon and I were supposed to see slowly over 2 weeks. Instead we drive there in the morning and arrived in the morning with one stop in a little place called the Wilderness where we stopped at Ross’s friends for homemade scones. On our way we came to a few check stops-in South Africa you can not travel to another province without a permit and that we did have since we are taking a price triple the cost back to Canada.
She was right, on May
I was in South Africa for almost 2 months when Covid-19 reared its ugly head. My first and last opportunity to go overseas on a study abroad or rather a research abroad was cut short when South Africa went into lockdown on March 26, 20. The lockdown in South Africa was quite strict in comparison to other countries. No cigarettes or booze was allowed, no exercising and no socializing at all. Basically, you could only leave your house for essential supplies which included groceries or the doctor.
On April 9, Ramaphosa extended the lockdown until the end of April. During this time, I was lucky to have a backyard, a pool and a patio and a nice neighbour to chat too.