Sitting tight: COVID-coping strategies/experiences differ

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Resort towns such as Mazatlan Mexico were a bit of a madhouse last week, with ‘snowbird’ populations scrambling to find flights home. Others, like Caroline Wagenaar and Dan Tarney of Marten Beach, have decided to lay low for the time being.

“People are in a big panic,” Wagenaar says. “Everyone’s been told to come home right away.”

Finding flights was hard, people were spending hours on hold and as far as she can tell, some will be exposing themselves to more risk by going now than by staying.

Wagenaar and Tarney, with three dogs to look after and a 5,000-kilometre drive ahead of them, figured the safest option would be to stick around for another month or so and hope things calm down a bit.

“We’ve weighed our options and decided to stay here against the government’s advice,” she says.

If they have to isolate themselves in their home, they figure it will be easier to cope in Mazatlan than in Marten Beach. So they’ve figured out the insurance angles and hope now to be home by the middle of May. After that it would get a bit trickier to stay, because their temporary visas run out.

Oh and it’s perfectly okay to call us snowbirds, she says.

“That’s what we call ourselves. It’s a category. There are ex-pats, snowbirds and tourists.”

Staying longer and planning to depart later assumes passage through Mexico and the U.S. will still be possible at that time.

“Crazy things could happen,” she admits. “But if we had to stay, we’d be fine. Lots of ex-pats live here year-round.”

Jerry Wallsten of Slave Lake got back from Mexico just before the outbreak, and wasn’t required to do the two-week isolation thing. But he says he’s been pretty much doing it anyway.

“I’m sitting here at home because there’s nothing to do,” he says. “I bought lunch from KFC at the takeout window.”

Bob and Carol Jamieson of Sherwood Park (and formerly of Slave Lake) had just finished their two weeks of self-imposed isolation following a visit to Mexico when The Leader reached Bob on his cell phone.

“I’m in the toilet paper line-up at Costco!” he said.

Jamieson said the quarantine was not a problem, but other challenges are looming. Their youngest son, who lives in a supported living facility, may have to return home due to provincial funding cuts to the program that supports him.

“It puts us in a very hard spot,” he says. “He’s got to go into two-weeks isolation.”

Back here in Slave Lake, Wesleyan Church Pastor Peggy Yetman and her daughter were on Day 7 of a two-week isolation stretch when we spoke to her.

“Surprisingly well,” was her answer to the question, ‘How’s it going?’ “We have a schedule. We have groceries delivered.”

Yetman said church services are being conducted online for the time being.

With the church being unused, Yetman made a point of saying it and its kitchen are available should anyone need such a facility. She can be reached at 780-849-5322.

We’re not claiming this was some spontaneous act of newspaper reading, but it does look pretty good! Thanks to Marge Rennick of Slave Lake for sending us in the photo of her grandson Darian Lebsack.

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