Swiss couple praises Vancouver Island as haven during pandemic
CAMPBELL RIVER -- A pair of Swiss travellers who were on a driving tour in Canada before the pandemic began say that Vancouver Island is a one of the best places to be to weather the COVID-19 storm.
But, the couple from Switzerland is now wondering how long they will be on Vancouver Island, and are unsure of where they will be able to travel to next.
Igor and Monica Moleri arrived in Halifax in October 2018 for a North American driving tour, an adventure which became side-tracked because of COVID-19.
"We were in Hope and waiting for better conditions to do back-country skiing on the mountain and after five or six days we started to listen to the radio and we started to know about the famous Dr. Bonnie Henry," Igor told CTV News.
They had also been in Whistler in the early days of the pandemic and were surprised how relaxed people seemed to be considering the seriousness of the information the Moleri's were getting about the pandemic from friends and family back in Europe.
"In Whistler, everybody was going in the restaurants so for us it was a big surprise, nobody really cared about COVID," Monica said.
But the couple says within two weeks everything was different when Canadians realized the seriousness of the situation.
"Everything changed. Just going into the supermarket, there was no toilet paper, there was like panic, complete panic. From nothing, to a panic," said Igor.
The couple then drove themselves in their large, German-built Unicat expedition vehicle into the remote Kootenays for a month for more isolation. It's isolation that hit them because their journey had been so social.
"Now we are completely alone, the family is in Europe, friends are in Europe and the people here don't care about us. Nobody knows we are here," said Monica.
The couple saw the public was eventually starting to relax a few months later and that's when they came to Vancouver Island, where they continue to be well-received.
They've been on the island for about a month, seeing the sights. But the couple isn’t sure when they will be able to leave and where they'll be able to go. They're hopeful they'll be allowed to travel to the Yukon and Alaska later in the summer.
"We are looking at what's going on in the world. It's like a suspended situation, you don't know exactly what your next destination is. 'Is it possible to go there or not?'" said Monica.
"We're like in a suspended bubble, waiting for this vaccine. The key for this situation will be to have a vaccine, until that, it's a bit of a question mark," said Igor.
The Moleri's say they're at least pleased they got out of the United States before COVID struck the country and chose instead to go to Vancouver Island.
"'Let's go to a place that offers everything,' and that place is really Vancouver Island. You have the ocean, the lakes and the mountains," said the couple.
For now, they're staying on the island until they can figure out their next move.