Bulletin contributor and Wasa resident Anthony Dransfeld is back on Canadian soil and has completed his 14 days of quarantine after finally making it out of Nepal.
As reported earlier in the Bulletin, Dransfeld had been in Nepal this winter to complete a bucket list item — a helicopter flight around Mount Everest. However, the global COVID-19 pandemic began and he found himself, along with thousands of other tourists, stuck in the country, unable to get a flight out.
After several weeks of anxiety, Dransfeld was able to get a flight home on April 10, 2020.
“Getting out of Kathmandu Nepal was an adventure in itself,” he said. “There were about 450 to 500 Canadians trying to get home to Canada (myself included).”
When word came from various Canadian government agencies that there was going to be a flight, there was paperwork to be filled out and contact had to be made with embassies. All very confusing, Dransfeld says. And dangerous. In order to get copies of the paperwork scanned, he had to go out, and police in Nepal are restricting movement.
“If the Kathmandu Police saw you out on the Street they would whip you with a thin bamboo pole adorned with a leather ball on the end of it the size of a marble. They got me twice on the calves – I still have the welts.”
“The many flights Ottawa had arranged for us turned out to be just one flight,” he said. “After three weeks of treading water in Kathmandu, we were told there was a charter for us by Qatar Airlines – going through Dhoa. Being a curious type, I asked a few questions when we got to Qatar from Kathmandu and found out that the Airline flies to Montreal almost daily in their regular schedule. The price is nowhere near three grand which we all paid — desperate to reach Canadian soil again. Qatar Airlines chose not to tell us that for an extra $210. we could actually fly to any Canadian city after we arrived in Montreal. Cranbrook, B.C. would have been my first choice.”
He says a family from Saskatchewan paid $15,000 for one way tickets home.
In the end, Dransfeld believes about 200 Canadians were left behind in Nepal.
“I personally know that Germany, United Kingdom, Czechs, Russia, Sweden, France, U.S.A., Spain and Italy were much more efficient at getting their people out than we were.
“As my dad Tony was fond of saying “It was a real schmozzle”. Probably many of the Canadians, who remain stuck in Nepal, are still attempting to fly to any airport that is open.”
Dransfeld ran into some musicians from Montreal, also trying to get out of Nepal, who put together a video.
One of the first things, Dransfeld did after returning to the Kootenays was go to the Quads Softball Diamonds in Cranbrook.
“I sat on the bench for a good hour after my 14 day “Q”, so grateful to be home. We take our freedom for granted sometimes. Later in the afternoon by chance I met a ball player in the Wal Mart parking lot, Emily Kennedy from Chapman Camp who is hopeful there will be a softball season. Me too!”
Although he has travelled extensively, Dransfeld says this episode has calmed his wanderlust somewhat.
“No more travelling. This one about did me in,” he said.