I recently posted a video to my Instagram story of an event we attended on island. The Kimpton creates these super cute pop-up bars on a regular basis and they had created a speak easy lounge circa Prohibition days. It was really fun - they had live music and all the staff was in character. You were greeted by a "character" who asked if you wanted to visit the "library" for some reading, and then you replied with a pass word to gain access to the secret bar. The ambiance was fantastic and I posted a little video of the bar to my story. Quite quickly I was inundated with comments, "Where's the social distancing?" "What about masks?" I was like...WHOA. I kinda forgot what everyone's mentality is everywhere else in the world. You see, my friends, we are literally living in an island bubble.
Since our strict lockdown back in March, April, and May, our island has basically eradicated any community transmission of Covid-19. We had a little fright a few weeks back when a student in public school tested positive. The island went into sheer panic mode for about 24 hours; however, thousands of tests were immediately carried out through contract tracing and volunteer drive-by testing centres, and miraculously, everyone tested negative. Perhaps the student was a false positive? No one really knows. The bottom line is...we do not appear to have Covid in our little island community.
Travellers are slowly being allowed in but the rules are strict. They must quarantine for 14 days and wear a tracking device if they are not isolating in government facilities. Self-isolating is taken very seriously, as a few of our travellers are testing positive on arrival. One traveller breached quarantine and was quickly picked up by the police - I'm certain that if they released the law-breakers name, locals would have showed up with pitchforks. This is serious business when you've basically created a virus-free island during a Pandemic.
So this all sounds quite wonderful, doesn't it? We have access to the most beautiful hotels and beaches in the world without any tourists. Businesses are in stiff competition so they are hosting special events such as pool parties, movies on the beach, and incredible staycation deals that you would never see offered to locals otherwise. It's the perfect time to take advantage of all that the island has to offer with your island buds and without any fear of contracting the virus. We truly are incredibly lucky to be in our current state, and although I read the world news daily, I sometimes forget what the rest of the world is presently up against.
It's been an interesting progression since this all began. Initially when we were placed in strict lockdown, having no access to the beach, or even the freedom to ride out bike down the street on certain days, there was a feeling of resentment. While helicopters monitored our every movement, we watched all our friends and family in the US and Canada carry on with their day-to-day. Although social distancing was a thing, I saw pics of my friends having deck beers with each other and felt a little bitter that I wasn't able to see any of my island friends for basically 3 months.
Once our lockdown was lifted, there was a feeling of trepidation. We gingerly began leaving our houses, wearing masks (it was the law), social distancing, and drowning ourselves in hand sanitizer. Once it became apparent that Covid was no longer a "thing" on our island, we gradually began to let loose. The masks came off, people began hugging again (yes! hugging!), the crowds became larger - and here we are today. We are living "normally" amidst a global pandemic.
But...like everything, there is a downside to all of this. We are essentially unable to leave, nor are we able to bring our loved ones here. Although we are enjoying this freedom that is unique to our situation, I can see that people here are getting worn down. This island is comprised 60% of expats. That means that at least 60% of our island have family and friends residing elsewhere in the world. As Christmas approaches there is a sense of resignation - we are all processing the fact that seeing our family is unlikely. You hear people expressing their gratitude, but also communicating their need to be reunited with family:
"Yes we are so lucky that we can do this but this is the longest I've gone without seeing my Mom."
"I'm so thankful that the kids are back in school but my family hasn't seen my daughter in a year now. She is growing so fast and they are missing it!"
"I know I should be grateful but I haven't seen my son in a year!"
You can also hear the tourism industry begging the government to lift the travel restrictions. Businesses that have operated successfully for years are closing left and right, which is really sad and I'm sure quite frightening for those who make a living off of tourists.
As for myself...I really miss my family and friends in Canada. I think that the absence of Dundee has increased my feelings of loneliness. I'm experiencing "island fever" on a regular basis where I just desperately long for stretches of prairie land and partaking in road trips that extend longer than 22 miles. In addition, as my knee deteriorates steadily I am concerned about getting to Philly for my cartilage transplant. To add to this concern, I just found out that I require overseas dental surgery (YUCK!!) So, you know, to quote Maroon 5, "Even the sun sets in paradise." ;)
I'm not sure how much longer until our island bubble bursts. Until it does I guess we live life to the fullest, seize the day, YOLO, and any other cliche you can think of.
I wish that I could bundle up all of my friends and family (Oh and my knee surgeon too), send a fabulous private jet, and fly you all to my island bubble!!