From Airside to Isolation
Greetings from quarantine! This is not your everyday honor-system quarantine that you can do from the comfort of your own home. The fact that I can even say that so nonchalantly speaks to how much COVID19 has infiltrated our sense of normalcy. But no, I am not self-isolating with Bryan — I am in a Cayman government controlled isolation center. While my accommodations during this isolation are far from grim (I am at a hotel), the procedures surrounding it are in fact as intense and thorough as they sound!
Let’s start from the very beginning — my arrival to the island. After deboarding the plane, we were greeted by fully gowned and masked staff who cheerfully welcomed us home. (Remember that all the passengers save me apparently were local Caymanians or permanent residents). I played my part and said “Thank you! It’s so good to be home!” 😉 Entering the airport, everyone was screened and had their temperatures taken. We were all issued room keys for our hotel accommodations and then escorted to the front of the airport where our luggage was loaded into a truck and we were loaded into a bus (all while maintaining our 6 feet of course). Surrounding the buses of recent arrivals were a scattering of police officers and their vehicles. When we finally did pull away from the airport to make our way to the hotel, we had a police escort leading in front and following behind. On our way, many people who were out walking stopped to watch us go by — some with dirty looks, others with friendly waves.
When we got to the hotel, we collected our luggage and waited in line to take the elevator to our designated floor. Only one could go on at a time and a staff member had to press the button for each person. I got on the elevator to the second floor – room 217. Upon entering I found a paper with important info along with a food menu for the entire week. I sat down with these pieces of paper that were about to dictate my life for the next 14+ days and began to mentally prepare.
A Day In The Life:
Where am I? While the words “Government Quarantine” may bring to mind images of sterile and cold surroundings, my current accommodations are actually quite plush. I am at a nice hotel (albeit with no patio), with views of palm trees, flowers, and a parking lot. I have a kitchenette, a sofa, a desk, and two beds. I haven’t yet jumped back and forth on them like I did when I was 5 and my parents would take my brother and I to a hotel, but the quarantine is young. The hotel is made up of 5 floors and each floor is occupied by passengers from the MIA > GCM flight. If I had to estimate, I would say there are about 70-100 of us. I am quite bad at estimations. The hotel is barricaded by tall, solid fencing. This keeps us inside when we are able to have our “recreation” time and it keeps family and friends from walking up outside the windows. Way to ruin the fun, Cayman.
What am I eating? Well, if you have been following me on Instagram, you know very well what I am eating because I take a picture of every single meal! Upon arrival, we received a menu with 2-3 options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Being that I am vegan, I had no idea what to expect and had imagined I would have to modify a bit and just be vegetarian for these weeks but to my pleasant surprise, they have a vegan option listed for EVERY SINGLE MEAL. Ladies and gentlemen, we are not in the Midwest anymore. Meals are delivered by the staff and volunteers. We all put little side tables out in the hallway and they set the meals on there and knock on the door. We are instructed not to open the door for a few minutes until the volunteers have left. As you can see below, the containers they serve the food in are adorable and the food is delicious. Even a carnivore could enjoy them! Breakfast is served between 8 and 8:30, lunch between 12:30 and 1, and dinner between 6:00 and 6:30. On the first night, they also brought us a “welcome home” bag full of snacks. I am trying to ration the snack bag but how could I not break into the Nutter Butter’s immediately? I mean come on, those things are amazing. My one complaint is that sometimes instead of a water with our meals they bring us Jamaican juice boxes that despite being tiny still manage to fit 24 grams of sugar within. I did break down and try one. It was really good, I won’t lie.
What in the world do you do all day? Earlier this spring amid COVID school closure I was teaching online with SHS but we already had our last day of school! That being said, I have no “official” work to do. Since I am going to be here for what feels like a long time, I tried to build some structure in my day by creating a daily schedule. One of the most important items on the schedule is RECREATIONAL TIME. Recreational time my friends refers to the whopping 20 minutes of outdoor time I am allotted each day (3:15-3:35) to leave my room and go outdoors. That means that at 3:14 I am at my hotel room door eagerly waiting for the minute hand to strike 15. I make my way to the stairwell, use the provided sanitizer, and hustle to the ground floor where I emerge free and floating into the Caribbean sunshine. I have watched other people use their recreational time from my window (I am not creepy, I am just isolated), and let me tell you, they are doing it wrong. They just pace around the parking lot and look at their phones. Lame, right? If you think I am going to spend my precious recreation time on my phone you are wrong. No, no, no. I came equipped with a jump rope and resistance bands and I make that outdoor area my arena. Of course since recreational time is just a mere 20 minutes, there is a lot of time in my day yet to be accounted for…alone in my hotel room. Don’t you worry. I am keeping busy! But if I told you all about my daily routine right now then what would I write about in the next blog?
So you really can’t see Bryan? When will you get out of there? Due to the barricade they so lovingly installed along the perimeter of the hotel, there is no possible, legal way for family and friends to get close enough to wave or talk via the windows. People can drop off packages with reception to be delivered to our rooms but they cannot themselves deliver them. UGH. Also, I am not totally sure what day we are on. Was the night we arrived considered Day 1? Or Day 0? Day 15 is when we are all going to take a COVID test but the results can take 48 to 72 hours (possibly longer). That could mean an extra 3+ days of isolation. So while I AM keeping track of days, I am also trying not to think of how many are left. There is still a long road ahead but I am counting my blessings as there are many amazing people here taking very good care of us and I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel! Thank you so much for reading and stay tuned for more quarantine updates! 🙂