We share Mikayla Harvey’s journey to get home to New Zealand, all the way from Italy, a trip that took her via Spain and Switzerland. Now, safe at home in Wanaka, she recounts her experience.
At first, I didn’t understand how severe Coronavirus would become. I was more dissapointed that the virus was creating uncertainty in my racing calendar, and that races where being cancelled last minute. Causing me to, at the time, become frustrated as I was missing ‘good’ training days whilst tapering for events that never happened. These anxieties seem ridiculous now. Now that the world in is a pandemic state, those little worries seem so far away.
Reality first hit when I woke up one morning in Italy to find out we were going into lockdown. I knew this was a possibility, but I never believed it would happen.
That morning was quite stressful. I was on the phone to my manager and he helped talk me through the process of getting out of Italy, and my flatmate and I were invited to stay in Switzerland. The next couple of hours were a mad panic of clearing the apartment and packing suitcases, unsure of where I would be going and for how long. We booked a taxi and fled our apartment for the train station, where we started our journey to Switzerland.
Being in Switzerland felt rather tranquil. The world seemed more normal and I was able to relax and become focused again for the next block of racing. I guess I allowed myself to become a little ignorant, because coronavirus was still getting worse and on Thursday evening, most races were cancelled for the next couple of weeks. There was so much uncertainty with the race calendar.
I decided to go to Spain to be around people I knew. Things where starting to get hectic and it felt so weird being ‘on the run’ away from my home in Italy. Traveling to Girona was a strange experience. Everything was so empty. The streets where sparse and most shops where closing down. Even going to the supermarket was unnerving. So many shelves just lay bare.
That day I was able to go outside training. However, the next, we were under strict lockdown. No one was allowed outside unless it was for grocery shopping. If you were caught doing anything else, you would be fined between 200 to 3000 euros. Apparently, this would last for two weeks. Girona become a ghost town.
The rest of the season became a huge unknown. I had no idea when we would be able to begin racing again or what the future would hold. I decided to take the week easy and tried not worry too much about the fact that the world seemed to be crumbling around me. My friends and family back home became extremely worried about the situation in Europe and I decided to head back there, to safety within New Zealand’s borders.
However, getting home wasn’t that simple. Flights seemed ridiculously expensive, but this was just the harsh reality of my situation. On my journey back home one of my flights got cancelled, and I almost got stuck in London. Luckily, I was re-routed, and continued the stressful journey back home. The one positive was that the planes were quite empty, so I was able to take up a whole row and stretch out on all my flights!
Upon arriving home, everything felt surreal. Once in Queenstown I discovered that I had lost my bike and suitcase. My whole journey home was a shambles, so I wasn’t surprised that they never turned up (luckily, ten days later they reappeared). Then, not being able to properly greet my family was a strange feeling – I wasn’t allowed to be in contact with anyone, as I had just returned from overseas. Being back in Wanaka was a strange feeling, I wasn’t planning on seeing the place until the end of the year. The fact I was back in March was crazy, I literally had only just left!
I had to self-isolate for 14 days. Luckily, I have been utilising the time to get into a little bit of art and focus on yoga and strength work in my mini home gym. Just after arriving back in New Zealand, we have gone into a minimum of a four-week lockdown. It is scary thinking about the reality of the whole situation. The future is one big unknown.
During this time, I have found it important to keep myself grounded and to take each day as it comes. I hope everyone stays safe and healthy.