I have reached out to some of my friends around the globe who are originally from the “604” area to see how they’re doing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is the seventh in the Vancouverites in Isolation Elsewhere series:
Vancouverites in Isolation Elsewhere: Robert in Bali
Name: Robert Scales (Website, Instagram)
Hometown: Born in Montreal, moved to Vancouver (Kerrisdale) in my 20s.
Current City: Nusa Ceningan, Bali, Indonesia
What is your city like right now?
The local government requested that all tourism related businesses stop operating on March 20th until further notice. We do not have a “lockdown” policy in place yet, however the regency has limited/restricted the movement between the islands and people are requested to stay at home, apply social distancing, to not travel between villages, wash hands, and report any illness.
We live on Nusa Ceningan, a very small island located about 30kms from the south east coast of Bali. Our primary economy is tourism. At the moment, there are very few non-local people on the Nusa islands (Nusa Ceningan, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Penida.) Most of the non-local people remaining are expats who own businesses here or stranded travellers who cannot return home due to travel restrictions etc.
How has COVID-19 personally impacted your day-to-day (work/life routine)?
I’ve been living in Bali since 2011, I co-own a dive resort with my wife Sandra and our business partners since 2015, our industry has slowly been decimated since mid-January. Our dive resort is closed until this is over. We gave up on a timeline, “the virus is the timeline” as experts have stated. So until this pandemic is over, we have no choice but to weather this global crisis.
We employ 24 local and expats employees at our dive resort; most of them are the primary revenue earner for their families. This is affecting the local villages. The future is very uncertain for our community and us. We do not have government subsidies, no government support programs, only two small clinics, a resilient community of around 8000 people living on the twin island of Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan.
The Canadian Embassy sent a “return home advisory” to all Canadians in Indonesia on March 25th, they stated that Indonesia was on the verge of being hit badly, that they estimated that the 170+ cases of CORVID-19 were only 2% of the reported cases (we are now at 1200+ reported cases with more than 100+ dead 4 days later), the Embassy stated there was very little medical support, facilities, expertise and that they anticipated the situation to get much worst within the coming weeks and months. Sadly, going back to Canada is not an option for us, Sandra cannot come with me with the Canadian travel ban and policies in place (she is Swiss), and I cannot go to Switzerland as they have the same policies in place there preventing me to go with her. So we will stay here, where we have made our home for the past 5 years. We have our entire life invested.
Since we closed our resort, Sandra and I have been in self-isolation in our home. We are lucky we have a decent size home with a decent garden and everything we need to sustain ourselves for weeks/months to come. We have been getting support from our team, community and friends with getting food, water and supplies. So we are slowly settling in our routine: gardening, cooking, learning new skills (thank god for YouTube), gaming, working, reading, hanging out together and playing with our dogs.
How have you been coping with isolation/quarantine/lockdown?
Whatsapp and facebook have been great for keeping in touch with friends and family. Luckily I am here with Sandra and we have 2 dogs to keep us company.
What have you been cooking at home?
We have a crockpot and rice cooker, so we are set. I make soups, and I enjoy cooking some of our favourite things. We make larger batches so we can freeze some portions for later. We have been doing an intermittent fasting since May 2019, we only eat lunch and dinner and have 18 hours intermittent in between our evening meal and the next day. So far, it’s working ok. We don’t have an oven, which sucks, I would love to make bread and other backed goods.
Do you have enough toilet paper?
Yes, we do, but that is not really an issue here as we all have butt guns (a hose to wash your ass / like a bidet)
What’s keeping you most entertained?
I torrent the heck out of the internet, play the Witcher 3 on PS4, gardening and making a point to watch at least 30 minutes of “learning” videos on YouTube every day (how to play the guitar, garden: grow potatoes, herbs, etc.)
What makes you happy right now?
We’ve been wanting to start a garden at our house for almost 2 years, I am happy we have the time now to take care of the yard and get that project going. I don’t really have a green thumbs, so I hope it will work out and we’ll get some fresh veggies in the coming months.
I’ve been really curious about the WW2 “Victory Garden”, so we are aiming to copy that concept. If the situation last, it gives us an ongoing project to keep busy and being outside for a few hours each day with my hand in the dirt is a refreshing change from my normal routine.
Any advice for Vancouverites?
Stay home, stay safe, stay healthy. The longer people go out and continue pretending this is not bad, the longer people like us and businesses like ours will remain close. Small private businesses in developing countries do not get billion dollar bailout packages. Self- employed entrepreneurs working in developing countries do not get subsidies. This is serious. We need to curb this fast so that the world can return to some form of normality sooner rather than later.
Fill in the blank: When this is all over I really want to ____
I will go traveling with Sandra, we were supposed to go on our honeymoon to Vietnam in April and visit our family in Canada in June/July and in Switzerland in December. For now we are far from our loved ones and we are looking forward to being able to see our friends and family again soon.
Read more in my COVID-19 news and community series here »