Voyageur July - September 2021

Page 28

Solitary Confinement Thoughts on One Month of Double Quarantine Story by Greg Beatty Illustration by Natchariya “Mai” Beatty


eighboring countries weren’t accepting tourists. But I had to leave Thailand and re-enter on a new visa for a new employment opportunity. Thus, a twenty-four thousand km roundtrip to my home country, Canada, then come back to the place I was already standing. A Kafkaesque plot was unfolding. The trip required 14 days quarantine in each country. Only three days separated the two periods – enough time to get another COVID test.

tation as a hapless cook preceded my arrival, but the rule applied to everyone. Nurses came to administer COVID tests, twice. Starting Day 7, I could walk around the pool area for one hour.

Quarantine Anticipation The anticipation of double quarantine was daunting. Spending one-twelfth of the year in isolation weighed heavily on my mind, as if trapped in an hourglass. Sequestered to a square box, I felt inconsequential.

The immigration officer at Vancouver International Airport stamped my passport and informed, “a quarantine violation could result in three years imprisonment and a $1 million fine.” I nodded and made my way to the Residence Inn Downtown. Transport to the hotel was at my discretion. I took a taxi, though public transport was an option.

The paradox: A limit on physical space, but endless freedom for self-contemplation. Both made me anxious. What change do I seek to make? Or do I just listen to my favorite albums, watch Netflix, reconnect with friends, or write a mini-memoir?

The receptionist handed me a plastic keycard, saying, “It works for one entry. If you leave the room, you can’t get back in. We’ll call the police.”

Here are the five strategies I developed to avoid going stir-crazy.

Strategies to Fill the Days

Block the Clock The standard room had a small balcony overlooking a construction site and a kitchenette with an empty fridge. I could order deliveries from restaurants and grocery stores. I cooked simple meals. No COVID testing during quarantine; I only had to affirm no fever, daily emails to the government. No proof required.

Instead of counting the days on the calendar, I looked at each day in blocks of time. Block 1: Breakfast to lunch. Block 2: Lunch to dinner. Post dinnertime was not part of my ‘quarantine clock’ since it was normal to be in a hotel in the evening on a business trip. Thus, I had to manage only eight hours instead of twenty-four.

In Thailand, travel was by hotel car. The driver was kitted with a plastic hospital gown. He sprayed my suitcase with disinfectant. Instead of checking in at the front desk, we wheeled our way up five levels through the parking garage to an outdoor check-in station. Hotel staff wore hospital gowns. I downloaded apps for F&B, housekeeping, and two for health reporting. I was given a thermometer to take my temperate twice daily and told to submit photo evidence.

Set Goals I planned to finish a manuscript for a book that I was half-way through. Reading and writing expanded to fill the days. I also brought several books to read. Unsinkable, by James Sullivan, put my quarantine into perspective.

I selected an ASQ hotel directly across the street from my condo and was placed on a floor that was eye level with my family. We waved to each other. It was like being home already, but without the chores.

Sullivan documents the Plunkett, the only Navy ship to participate in every Allied invasion in the European theatre. Its defining moment was twenty-five minutes in January 1944. In Anzio, it endured the most vicious attack on any ship during WW II, when a hornet’s nest of aerial bombers bore down and dropped a 550-lb bomb, killing fifty-three sailors, mostly young.

Meals were served by the hotel. No outside food, no groceries, and no cooking allowed. I thought my repu-

I thought of the men on that ship, and the cramp quarters they kept, stacked three high in bunk beds,


July - August - September 2021

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.