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Ottawa family stranded in India one step closer to coming home
OTTAWA -- Three Ottawa women are one step closer to being back on home soil after being stuck in India for weeks as the country clamped down on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Katie Tayler, her sister Aimie Calagoure, and their mother are now in Mumbai, awaiting a repatriation flight to Canada.
The Canadians had intended to travel from Goa to Mumbai on Saturday, but their bus never arrived.
Speaking to CTV Morning Live's Leslie Roberts on Wednesday, Tayler said they were relieved when this latest bus showed up.
"We were early to our pickup time and we ran because we didn't want to miss it, just in case, so we were very relieved when we got on the bus," Tayler said.
She described a bumpy, dusty, 20-hour long trip to get from Goa to Mumbai, a trip that would usually take half as long by car.
There were 32 Canadians on board the 40-seater bus, Tayler said, and it stopped only three times for bathroom breaks. There were no stops for food.
"We were surprised by how long it took us to get going," Tayler said. "It was a good five, six hours before we started our journey because of all the pickups and there were a lot of police checkpoints along the way."
Tayler said she and her family had permission slips from the embassy allowing them to travel into Mumbai, but just checking everyone's permissions took an hour.
The repatriation flight is scheduled to leave at 2 a.m. Thursday, local time.
"They're going to pick us up at 10 p.m. to go to the airport where we're told we'll have to wait outside because they're only bringing four our five people through security at a time," Tayler said.
One of the most notable things is how few people are out on the streets.
"It's a ghost town," Tayler said, of Mumbai. "Mumbai is busier than New Delhi on a normal day and there's not a single soul on the roads. Everything's boarded up and closed. The streets are deserted, which is wild to see. You could never see it like this again."
Tayler and Calagoure said they spent a lot of time trying to calm their mother down, assuring her they would make it back to Canada.
"It was more my sister and I saying, 'Okay, mom, relax, we're going to get home,'" Tayler said. "It was a lot of us reassuring her."
"Until we went to our room," Calagoure said. "Then we'd have our breakdown, but you have to put on your face for mom so she doesn't panic."
The first thing they'll do when they come home?
"Shower," said Calagoure. "Sleep."
"Drink water from the tap," Tayler said.
All travelers returning to Canada from abroad must self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19.