Still Wandering

Vagabond. My new favorite word. 

I never knew at this, last third of my life, I would be a vagabond. Not only that, but I that I would personify all three phases of the word: noun, adjective AND verb. 

I am The Vagabond – a person who wanders from place to place without a home or a job. I am a vagabond wanderer, having no settled home. And I am vagabonding – wandering about. 

My husband and I left our Cuenca home in mid-February for a month-long trip through Argentina and Chile. We packed for an experience comprised mostly of hiking, took minimal toiletries, and two books. We left things normally packed for trips to the United States, like U.S. driver’s licenses, U.S. medical insurance cards and computer drives. 

Who knew our idyllic vacation would be cut short by a worldwide virus?  

With less than 48 hours’ notice, we were told to return to Ecuador, or the borders would be closed. With flights strained and then cancelled, we struggled to make our way home from Chile. I was down with a sinus infection, so not much help to my husband and my daughter, both frantically working phones and schedules. 

Caught between being ill at an airport already on high alert for Covid-19, hoping our flight would make it to Quito, and taking a direct flight to Texas, we opted for the latter. 

On March 15, we landed in Houston, and instantly became vagabonds. 

My daughter and son-in-law graciously housed us in quarantine for the first 10 weeks.  

Then, my husband got the news that a nationally recognized orthopedic surgeon would evaluate him for an ankle replacement if we could get to Denver. After several cancelled flights due to the spreading virus, we elected to drive. That led to our first night in a hotel in the coronavirus era. Armed with Clorox wipes and gloves, I cleansed everything in the room before allowing my husband in. 

The next day, we checked into a Denver hotel. Same routine. Then to the doctor, where full precautions were in place. After the appointment, we drove to our rustic cabin (read no phone, no TV or internet) in New Mexico, and the next day landed at our son’s home in El Paso, Texas. There, we quarantined nearly two weeks before returning to Dallas. 

Mike was accepted for surgery and scheduled for June 26. We collected most of our belongings (still traveling with the same three suitcases we left home with) and left behind two bags packed for our optimistic return to Ecuador. 

After his successful ankle implant, Mike and I spent two weeks in an Airbnb in the Denver area to recuperate. It was someone else’s home, so it got the Paternoster cleansing treatment. But we were happy to have two weeks in one place. 

The expense and separation from family prompted a move back to El Paso, this time to our son’s vacant rental home.  Simple, clean and bright, it was furnished only with a double bed, a single bed, a table for four, one leather recliner and one outdoor patio recliner. Sparse, for sure, but all we needed.  

We settled in. I even started a 1,000-piece puzzle. 

Then came the news that my son’s live-in girlfriend might have been exposed to Covid-19. She is a speech pathologist employed in a nursing facility. Twenty-five patients and one co-worker had tested positive. My son, planning to drive to Denver with us for the last medical appointment, needed a place to quarantine. So once again, we moved on. 

One more Airbnb, with the Paternoster cleansing routine, in the El Paso countryside. 

One more trip to Denver and one more Airbnb in the mountains. 

One more trip to our rustic cabin, void of Wi-Fi, radio, television and telephone, for final recuperation and physical therapy. 

From March through August: eight homes, five hotel rooms. 

On August 14, Ecuador’s current state of emergency proclamation will be extended or lifted. Under current conditions, it is difficult, though not impossible, to get to Cuenca. But lifting the order would be helpful. Of course, the pendulum could swing in the opposite direction, with the President electing to close the borders again. 

At least until September, we remain, vagabonds. 

Then. Maybe. Home.