A Room with a View
14 days of managed isolation in New Zealand
More than 50,000 New Zealanders have returned home since the pandemic disrupted life worldwide — me among them. Having quelled Covid-19’s spread in the community, New Zealanders plan to keep it that way. So on arrival at the airport, returning Kiwis go direct to a government-provided hotel where our countdown to arrival begins.
Welcome home to 14-days of ‘managed isolation.’ It’s an inside job. Doom with a view anyone?
In my case, I’m staying with my partner Alan in a 250-square foot room. So far, so good. The first nine days have passed like any other Blursday in 2020. After all, we are seasoned veterans of sheltering-in-place. Along with most of the world, in March, we had weeks of nail-biting ‘lock-down’ without the benefit of knowing as much as we know now about Covid-19. Later in the summer, in Portland, Oregon where we live, we had a self-imposed lock-down because the air outside was hazardous from mega-fire smoke.
During each day of our latest bout of ‘isolation’, we’ve shared numerous calls with friends and family. It’s been a joy-fest of virtual re-connection. Talk about silver linings. So compared to other ‘lock-downs’ earlier in the year, two weeks in a kiwi hotel is a ‘walk in the park’. Especially since, in this case, once the prescribed confinement is over, a Covid-free world awaits outside the chain-link fence.
Quarantiners can reserve a 45-minute slot for a daily walk around an empty rooftop parking lot, but spaces are limited and competition is stiff. If you don’t don your mask and hot-foot it down to the military-supervised hotel lobby by 8 a.m. sharp to get your name on the list, you’re out of luck. You can still exercise while pacing the hallways, just as long as you wear a mask and keep social distance, but the stairways are strictly out of bounds.
While exercise options are limited, food is guaranteed. Three times a day, a masked stranger knocks at the hotel room door and leaves a meal. This is very exciting.
Using a hand-filled form, and selecting from a rotating choice of two options, we pre-order all meals for the week ahead. As well as meals, we can order morning tea and afternoon tea. For travelers lucky enough to have friends and family nearby, they may have treats or home cooked meals delivered to the hotel. Talk about the ‘Covid 15’, this is how bored quarantinis grow into quarantubbies.
A nurse calls our hotel room every two days to ask about symptoms. On alternating days she comes to the door and takes our temperatures. We are tested for Covid-19 on day 3 and day 12 of our stay, and assuming all is well in our nasal passages, we leave on day 15.
Now that I have shared the compelling logistics of my confinement, let’s talk about my on-bored entertainment. As you can imagine, options are somewhat limited in a 250-square foot room, but 2020 reminds us to look for joy in what we take for granted.
Today, taking a break from life online, I arranged our growing collection of food delivery bags into a carpet-based mandala. I topped this contemporary art installation with a recently delivered chia pudding. Then I ate it — the chia pudding, not the paper-bags. Sheesh! I’m not crazy.
Next, I made this little derrangement of fruit which I call Still Life Goes On.
Then, ready to roam, we left our room on the 18th floor and traveled to the only place to go in town — the hotel lobby.
That’s when we saw the light. It was on the ceiling.
If 2020 has taught us nothing, it’s to keep looking up.
We will go the distance.
There is more to this journey than a doom with a view.
Hang in there.
More than ever before, it’s an inside job.
© 2020 Pamela Edwards