All going well, I will have started this message from managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) in Christchurch on Monday and filed it from home in Pāpāmoa on Friday.
I'm crossing my fingers between taps of this keyboard. Maybe I'll cross my toes, too. Not that I'm superstitious. One positive Covid test and we're back to square one.
The quaran-teens and I are so ready for home. We are itching for a new view, something besides watching planes take off and land.
We have joined a growing community of hotel hobbits - more than 200,000 people have preceded us while returning home to New Zealand. Who knows how many people are yet to join our ranks?
The Government announced Tuesday it would pause the next MIQ room release due to increasing Omicron cases at the border. I'm gutted for Kiwis stranded overseas, and for those in Aotearoa desperate to reconnect with loved ones.
The Government has said for months the country is moving towards a self-isolation model, but has provided no time frame for the change.
I spoke earlier this week with a friend in the Bay aching to visit family overseas.
"It has been too long," she said. "I don't know how many more months we'll have MIQ but I need to see my mother."
I get it. I had not seen my father in person for three years before this trip. I offered my friend advice which could also work for home isolation.
1) Know your purpose. According to government statistics, most people who leave New Zealand and return are visiting family, not going on holiday. I don't begrudge you your vacation, but I can't imagine isolating for the sake of a nice beach or skiing. If I needed to meet with potential investors overseas to grow my company or tackle a pressing client need, I would also consider MIQ. Our purpose was reconnecting with a loved one who suffered through cancer treatment last year. That person was our 'why' for the trip.
2) Consider your bubble. My kids needed to see their grandparents. But for anyone on the fence about taking children, I'd skip it. Master 16 and Miss 17 battled boredom on devices. Unlike me, they don't have remote work, though my son would love to be a professional gamer and he played video games a lot in MIQ.
3) Ask for what you need. This is good life advice, full stop. We asked the hotel to cease including apples with meals after we had stockpiled about eight of them. I got a fan and a box of water after the air conditioning broke because I requested these items (staff also sent icecream and a note apologising for the inconvenience). The air is back on and I am a much happier person, especially since our windows don't open. Craving conversation? Don't expect friends to call you. Those free people still lead busy lives. You may have to schedule your chats.
4) Know thyself. I asked the metaverse about the risk involved in taking daily walks while in isolation and advice was mixed - some people said they would crack without fresh air, while others said their hotel lacked the space or precautions for safe exercise. Two friends who have been through MIQ said they did not leave their rooms at all to minimise possible Covid exposure. It may be safer not to ride elevators and be outside around other people, but not getting fresh air means I may lose my marbles. I also hired an exercise bike for a daily dose of huffing and puffing.
5) Set boundaries. This goes for bubble mates as well as people from the outside. Tell travel partners and would-be callers when you need alone time or time to work, exercise or nap.
6) Have a project. As a writer, I am always engaged in or procrastinating some type of work. Seeking another diversion, I followed a friend's suggestion to create a paper bag costume. My quaran-queen creation gave me something to focus on other than work, walks and the 29 meals I will eat during my stay.
Throughout our hotel confinement, I imagined how much better off we would have been isolating from home. Yes, the country needs safeguards to ensure compliance so Covid doesn't tear through the country. Monitoring technology has already proven itself useful here and abroad.
Also, we are protecting ourselves as best we can: more than 90 per cent of people 12 and over in Aotearoa are double-vaccinated and more than 20 per cent have gotten booster shots. The vaccine rollout for ages 5 to 11 is under way.
The vast majority of people willing to travel during the pandemic - like those my family spent 10 days within a hotel - follow the rules. Those who don't should face severe punishment, not a slap on the wrist. Can we shift the considerable resources now used for MIQ to manage home isolation? Sure, we can. Kiwis have already proven we can do hard things.
We are home in Pāpāmoa at last. We survived MIQ - something we hope to never do again.