Return of the Mice + COVID Test

Return of the Mice + COVID Test

Hi there. Thought I wouldn’t be posting again until I was released from isolation BUT writing proves to be therapeutic for me and the last 48 hours have been quite traumatic for someone with a recently self-diagnosed rodent phobia. While I thought I was safe in my new room, I couldn’t hide for long. That’s right. The mice struck again. And this time…not just one. 

The clock struck 11 pm, seemingly the hour in which mice like to wake from their slumber and scavenge for vegan leftovers such as chickpeas and sweet potato. I had just brushed my teeth and was heading for the bedroom. I had tried so hard for the past few days to correct my sleep schedule and I had my sights set on a solid 8 hours of sleep. The mice had a different plan. I turned the corner to the living room and SCREAMED. NO! NOOOOOO. A mouse scurried in front of me, his little tail flapping in the wind. F*CK!! I sprinted across the living room to the bed room, slammed the door shut, and stuffed towels underneath the door. Safe. I was safe…or so I thought. I called Bryan practically in tears and directed my obscenities and “why me’s” at the phone. I began to calm myself and sat down on the bed, ready to call the front desk yet again. And then…ANOTHER ONE!?! I jumped up on the bed, any feeling of tiredness had gone out the window. I wished the mice would do the same. 

Prior to seeing the second mouse, I had (for a fleeting moment) considered riding it out in the bedroom until morning. I thought about what my mom and I had talked about. That part in the Green Mile when he befriends a mouse and names him Mr. Jingles. Could I adopt the same mentality? There were some similarities in our story except of course the part about being on death row for a crime I didn’t commit. No… sorry Mr. Jingles. We couldn’t be friends, you had been too intrusive. 

So, I repeated the same routine as a week ago. I sprinted back and forth across the room, packing up, throwing things in garbage bags. Security came up to deliver yet another key to a new room. Upon arriving at the new room, I did not feel any sense of relief. It was on the same floor, directly across the hall from my first room where there was a mouse. This is so ridiculous, I thought. After a bit of complaining, the next morning the facilities manager proposed that I be transferred to a new hotel. YES!!! Please!! Nope, just kidding…that was not a good idea after all. But, they could move me to a higher floor. Sure…I mean I was already packed. My entire life was still on the luggage cart inside my room. So, later that day I moved to the third floor where I am apparently the only person on the floor. In room #4 I shoved towels into all the crevices where a rodent could possibly enter. I sprayed the room with clorox (kills viruses, deters rodents?) I forced myself to eat all the food they delivered (they provide huge portions) so that I did not have any residual food smells in my room. I couldn’t understand how this seemed to only be happening to me! I guess I am just the fan favorite.

Being that I hadn’t slept well in days, I was actually tired enough that I felt I would fall asleep without problem. If you have ever stayed in a hotel, you know the frustration of getting into bed when they tight-tuck all the sheets and comforter under the mattress. Well, when you are being actively pursued by a gang of vegan mice, you find comfort in being securely tucked in. So I slept for almost 12 hours and awoke with a clear mind and less anxiety. I concluded that if I went to bed before 11 and didn’t get up for anything, there is no way I would see a mouse. So that is my strategy for my last night of quarantine!

It is now 10:40 am, I am awaiting the call to go take my COVID test. I put on mascara and everything. I simply could not be more excited to have a swab stuck up my nose!

[Update] 11:30 am, May 30th

COVID test has been taken! Funny that we had to wait 2 weeks for a 2 second test. For those who haven’t had the test, they basically stick an extra long q-tip up your nose, but like, really far up there. I wouldn’t say it hurt but it was definitely a weird feeling that I continued to feel even after they removed the swab. The staff was very kind and tried to calm my nerves. If they only knew what I had been through the past two weeks. Hehe. 

I returned to my room, celebrated the completed test, now awaiting the results. The staff here is confident our results will be back by tomorrow morning and we will be able to leave sometime later in the day. (I am knocking on wood as I type this.) 

This time, I really hope you do not hear from me again. PLEASE let the next 24 hours be uneventful and blissfully boring. See you on the other side! 

10 Things I Learned in Cayman Quarantine

10 Things I Learned in Cayman Quarantine
  1. I guess I don’t actually need “Happy Hour” every day. At the government isolation center (AKA Comfort Suites), alcohol and other drugs are strictly prohibited. They neither serve alcohol nor do they allow outsiders to deliver any. That being said, it will be 15 days or so for me without drinking. I mean, don’t get the wrong idea. I am hardly an alcoholic. However, like many throughout this pandemic, I have enjoyed the more than occasional at-home happy hour with my parents. Indulging in a Bloody Mary or whatever spiked seltzer is trending at the time. (My fav is still Press even though it is so last summer). Arriving to quarantine knowing these happy hours were going to be on hold from 2+ weeks was a bummer. Nothing like arriving in paradise and being denied both the beach and the piña colada that comes with it. I mean THE TORTURE… Anyyyyyway, what was I saying? Oh yeah. I don’t “need” happy hour. Or do I? Jury’s still out. 
  1. Sometimes you just have to turn off the news and binge 48 hours of Sex and the City. Nothing like hours of dysfunctional relationships to make a day fly by. Again, don’t get me wrong. Of course the news is important. Especially now with constant virus-related updates. But sometimes, the trials and tribulations of Carrie and Big’s on-again, off-again romance take precedence. Hopefully I didn’t lose any readership with this one. (**This news hiatus happened over Memorial Day Weekend. A lot has happened even since then that does require our attention)

3. Maybe a rodent in your house is a blessing in disguise? All I know is that after the mouse encounter, life in isolation improved markedly. 1. I got a bigger room 2. I got a hot shower 3. I got a new view which allowed Bryan and I to reunite via the window! Guys, I am the real life Rapunzle. Except my hair isn’t long enough to let down. Maybe next time?

  1. Education and training is required in the culinary arts of vegan desserts. Let me start by saying that I am very satisfied with the food here and overjoyed that vegan options even exist. Wherever this food is coming from, I give them 5 stars. HOWEVER. The vegan “desserts” they have given me, if you can call them desserts, have been utterly confusing. One night they gave me a cup of rice pudding with corn and an unidentifiable yellowish syrup. Another night they gave me this lump of solid green gelatin? Which is not vegan at all actually. Gelatin is made from prolonged boiling of skin, cartilage, and bones from animals. So that is VERY confusing. Another night they gave me a cooked plantain with frosting. (That one I ate). In conclusion, just give me the damn chocolate chip cookie.
Vegan Banana Pancakes (my favorite breakfast so far)
  1. Literally any space can be used for movement. For example, the recreational space they provided for us (a stretch of a parking lot and a little bit of grass), is not the ideal space to run long distances. ALAS, I have run the mile multiple times in that area during the 20 minutes they allot us. Granted, they are the slowest miles I have ever run but hey, it’s still an accomplishment! Have to make due with the space you have and move your body in any way that you can! Also, thank god for YouTube and its endless library of free workout videos. 
  1. Jamaican juice is delicious and addicting. With most of our meals they give us a bottle of water. However, every once in a while they give us a juice box instead. Which is really funny to me. I am one of those annoying people who reads the label and nutritional contents of food and beverages and I was not surprised to find this little box of juice contains 24 grams of added sugar…about the same as a can of soda. BUT, it is from Jamaica. Which, I don’t know, somehow makes it a superior juice box. So… after hoarding them for a few days, I finally broke down and had one. And guys. This juicebox was EVERYTHING. I have never tasted anything so miraculous. I guess these make up for my rice & corn pudding desserts.
  1. In the absence of squirrels, chickens are just as fun to watch from your window. That is all. I just love them.
  1. I guess I like puzzles. I guess I do! My friend Emily, basically my only friend on the island besides Bryan, was kind enough to deliver a few of her puzzles to me at the hotel. I did them in record time and loved every minute of it. What a relaxing, mindless activity. Almost as mindless as Sex and the City. 
  1. Good ideas can come to you when you take time to unplug. This has been such a revelation for me. Never has writing come so easy to me as during this quarantine. I hope that even when I leave here I can maintain this clearheadedness. It has helped me hugely in the creativity department. Not just with the blog but also in working on my Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) store. In a society that equates productivity with success, I have learned that it’s actually quiet time and headspace that give way to really great ideas and energy! And allow you to be even more productive when the time is right! (The time isn’t always right. Sometimes what you need is to watch chickens from the window while draining a Jamaican juicebox).
  1. We depend on each other. Take time to appreciate others! Not to be overly didactic…I am going to make this short and sweet. But seriously, as independent and strong as you may be, you couldn’t survive for very long without the support of others. I’m so grateful for all the people who made sure I got here safely, for the volunteers who deliver my food and water everyday, and for the friends and family who check in with me to see how I am doing. We all make up a small part of the whole! One day you are the one helping and the next you are the one who needs help. We’ve got this!

So, as you can see I have learned a lot during my time here in government isolation! While my time here is not quite over, this is the last time I will blog from quarantine. I will be taking the COVID test on Saturday (May 30) with hopes of getting the results back in 24 hours and leaving on Sunday. Next time you hear from me I will be free and at home with Bryan! As always, thanks for reading! Until next time 🙂

An Unexpected Turn of Events Pt. 2!

An Unexpected Turn of Events Pt. 2!

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?

Someday over the rainbow…

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! 🙂