PRAIRIE GIRL GOES COASTAL: A FOREIGNER IN MY OWN COUNTRY

In my last blog (click here to read it) I shared about some of the unpleasant news we got as we travelled through Quebec during our second-to-last day of travel. 

As we approached the Quebec-New Brunswick border, my uneasiness rose. We were aware that during the first wave of the pandemic, New Brunswick had closed its borders to people from other provinces. We had also heard that some people who had purchased properties in the Maritimes were being refused entry. What on earth would we do—where would we go—if the border patrol turned us away? 

At the same time, excitement was rising in my spirit. After everything we had been through over the last two years, we were literally minutes away from entering our new province and starting our new life. 

As we approached the border, my husband slowed the car down so we would each have time to pray a quick blessing over our moving on to the next part of our life journey. 

I wondered: Were my intense feelings of fear and dread mixed with hopeful expectation what refugees experience when they are about to cross a border to a new life? Would they have felt as I did—that their hopes and dreams, and perhaps even their safety, and future life—were held in the hands of the border patrol? 

Would the papers I had brought along—my husband’s job offer and our house purchase—be enough for the border patrol to let us through? While I had done my best to be prepared, it was always possible that COVID restrictions had been tightened since our departure from the Prairies just one week ago. 

At the border, as much as I tried to relax, we could feel tension in the air. The sterner the agent got about the restrictions we must follow, the more I felt I needed to “prove” that I belonged in the Maritimes. Before my ire rose, my husband placed a cautionary hand on my arm as a signal for me to bite my tongue. 

After writing copious notes and emphasizing that we could not leave the hotel grounds until we were ready to move into our house, the border patrol waved us through. 

Just like that, we crossed the border to our new life. 

But it wasn’t time to rest on our laurels quite yet. We still had a full day’s travel ahead of us. 

Nonetheless I breathed a huge sigh of relief, and silently expressed gratitude to the friends and family members who had been praying for and/or checking in with us as we travelled across the country during this terribly uncertain time.

Knowing that there was little more I could do en route to address our as-yet unresolved concerns about our house purchase and other practical issues, I sat back and enjoyed the scenery. 

I had been to New Brunswick several times before, but I had forgotten how majestic (and vast, and prolific!) the forests were. I had also forgotten how far it was between communities. Except for the different topography, this leg of our trip was reminiscent of travelling through the Prairies over all those years. 

As we approached our new community, we couldn’t resist doing a short detour to drive by our new house on our way to the hotel. Just seeing it with our own eyes gave us a much-needed incentive to help us get through the next four days while we were holed up at the hotel. 

Once we were settled in our hotel room, I called the government to let them know that we had arrived. We were reminded once again to abide by the 14-day self-isolation period, and that we must inform them once we moved into our new house. 

We had heard that government agents actually came to people’s hotel rooms and new homes in order to sniff out and fine and/or oust violators of their strict policies. We were careful not to do anything to jeopardize what we had waited so long to accomplish. 

To be honest, it wasn’t a pleasant welcome to the Maritimes. But I reminded myself that it was because of the government’s strict rules that New Brunswick had a relatively low COVID-19 infection rate compared to the rest of the country. In time, we would benefit from these strict rules too. 

With support and innovative thinking, we were able to make it through all the obstacles we were wrestling with due to COVID restrictions that I referred to at the end of my previous blog

We ordered groceries online and had a taxi driver drop them off. 

We got used to eating deli meat and salads for lunches and dinners since we didn’t have cooking facilities, knowing that our limited diet was only temporary. We were grateful that the manager of the closest Home Hardware personally dropped off a kettle for us so we could have instant oatmeal and tea for breakfast. 

Our real estate agent did a virtual walk-through with us on FaceTime on closing day, and later, dropped off our keys at our hotel room—with social distancing, of course. 

Our lawyer emailed me our papers, the hotel printed them out, and the lawyer watched on Zoom as we signed our legal papers to purchase our home. We then couriered the signed papers back to the lawyer. 

We got an extension on our rental vehicle until such time we officially moved into our new home at which time they would come and pick up the car curbside. 

After four days holed up in the hotel, we couldn’t wait until we could finally move into our new home. 

And then…we had a whole set of new challenges to deal with for the remaining ten days of our self-isolation.

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