Sojourn from Canada to Beijing PWG 2022Andre Barbieri
A couple months ago Coach Mancha & I were re-living our journey from Canada to the Paralympics.
It was sooo long that I felt like writing this post, so I wouldn’t forget.
Number 1. For context, during Covid, China required PCR & rapid tests taken 72 hours apart, from specific approved laboratories. We were in the middle of nowhere in a little mountain town, so getting to their requested labs for testing required taking a taxi or shuttle, an expensive ordeal altogether (tests were about $200/person + 1 hour taxi rides).
Number 2. The Country of China was closed during Covid. Only athletes and people involved with Olympics/Paralympics could travel there. Unless you raced for a Country like USA or Canada (they chartered flights for their huge delegations), there were VERY few flights to get there, with horrible connections, as it was.
Number 3. On my last test before departure, I had an “inconclusive” result —it was not confirmed positive COVID, but Team Brazil decided it was best for us to wait it out, for another 72 hour window of negative tests. The idea was good, because if I had to quarantine in China with Covid, the stories were nasty -it would be almost like being in a “jail,” so they did that to preserve me. The downside was arriving with even less time to adjust/rest/recover before my first race.
Prior to the above ordeal, Coach Mancha was in bad shape; he had just found out, 2 weeks earlier, that their almost 20-year old dog passed away back home and his wife had to bear that pain all alone:(( With his spirits down, a nasty herniated disc bulged out and he had been hurting for a while in Canada…
With that inconclusive test of mine, our flights’ schedules got even worse. Another battery of tests for coach & I, then we were looking at around 120 hours from door to door of buses, taxis, flights & shuttles. If you look at a map, Canada to China going west (left) is relatively fast – just across the ocean. BUT we, had to go through Europe, the looong way.
There was a faster itinerary, but with very short layovers. We decided to break in between long flights, and sleep in a hotel in Atlanta (USA) on the way.
Number 4. The journey went like this: 1 hour shuttle from Big White to Kelowna. Fly across the Country to Toronto (Canada). Next flight was to Atlanta, but we almost couldn’t board: we just learned that Mancha with his European passport needed a U.S. Visa, that he didn’t have. It was an online visa that needed approval, wasn’t ready right away. Tense hours waiting, but we got it! Earned ourselves a night slept in beds in Atlanta -glory!
Tension again the next morning: the final test results still hadn’t arrived. Only when we were about to board our flight to Paris (France) we got confirmation that we would be able to enter China. What a relief… And a long flight.
Paris airport for a couple hours. Croissants & coffee then a long flight to Beijing (China), finally! With a layover of a couple hours in Seoul (Korea) that I didn’t even know would happen —apparently some of the crew couldn’t enter China so they had to layover in Seoul.
Beijing is a huge airport, but it was a ghost town during Covid, with very few flights. We got there and had to do a gnarly PCR test & wait to be all clear to enter the Country. Couple hours there, then we boarded a 3 or 4 hour bus to the mountains and finally arrived at the Olympic Village to fulfill our dreams.
“Easy peasy.” “Piece of cake.” (Laughs). Longest journey of my life. But with all the moments I lived there, I would repeat the same travels tomorrow if I had to!