We had a hard time finding coffee.
In March 2020 it was because nothing was open.
We’d arrived two days before and all seemed normal. Restaurants were open but there was hand sanitizer on the counter, and only every second table was being used. Yes, there was concern about this new COVID-19. Vancouver Island had its first case and there were almost 20,000 total cases in the States. In just a couple of days, though, there were dramatic changes. Most restaurants closed. Store shelves emptied. Our hotel stopped taking reservations, then announce it was closing the next day. People were nervous, unsure. We smiled uncertainly at the few people we saw, awkwardly distancing from each other on the sidewalks.
In September 2021 we still had a hard time getting coffee, because there were lineups at every restaurant and coffee bar on the crowded Main Street. Everyone in the lines wore masks as they stood a metre apart, but people were laughing and chatting in the sunshine. They were on holiday, at last.
On the first trip, I took a picture of the hand sanitizer and I did not own a face mask. This trip, physical distancing, waiting to get into stores, plexiglass barriers: all are routine. I buy yet another mask, as a souvenir. Then, we watched the case numbers beginning to climb. Now, we are thankful that the vaccination numbers are growing enough to make some recreational travel possible and comfortable.
Last trip, the border had just closed between Canada and the US, for a month. This trip, 16 months later, it has finally reopened, for those fully vaccinated and with a negative Covid test.
We have learned to navigate this new world. We mourn those who did not make it to this time when, despite the fourth wave, we seem to be able to see the other side.
It may not be over— this is one thing we have learned, that you cannot take the future for granted, that all your plans mean nothing when the world changes. But another thing we have learned is to pause and to enjoy exactly where we are, exactly what we have.
2019 had been a year of travel, and 2020 had been shaping up to be the same. In the last year I have made one trip, “home” to Canada after 11 months in Barbados. When I went to Tofino last time it was because I wasn’t ready to introduce my new man to family. This trip, I told everyone that we were getting married.
And so, without much movement, my brave travels continue.
If you’d like to revisit, as I did, how much times have changed, here are posts from the first visit: changing Plans and My World is Getting Smaller. And here is how I traveled before the world paused: A year of travel.