Rob and Brenda Hicken, from Peters Road, will make their way home this week after holidaying in Costa Rica.

Rob and Brenda Hicken, from Alliston, are making their way back home this week after a bittersweet ending to a tropical vacation.

The couple has been spending time in Samara, a small ocean-side town on the west coast of Costa Rica.

They decided to cut their vacation short after hearing news reports of closures and the fact that the virus was spreading across Canada.

During the disruption in travel these past few weeks the Hickens were challenged to find a way out.

“We tried to get hold of Air Canada and we couldn’t get through,” Mr Hicken said. He was finally able to contact one of the airline’s reps in San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica, and arranged flights home on Wednesday, March 25.

Flying home will be a lengthy journey with stopovers in the United States and Toronto.

Their plans have caused some worry for the couple since all three cases of Islanders contracting the COVID-19 virus have been travel related.

“We’re fine but if you’re going to catch anything it’s probably going to be at the airport.” Mr Hicken said.

The locale for their annual vacation has literally turned from a tropical paradise to a ghost town in the final weeks of their vacation.

“It’s just dead. There’s nobody in the streets,” Mr Hicken said. “Everything is shut down.”

Costa Rica has been locking down bit by bit. The first person there confirmed to have the virus was on March 7. A total of 113 cases were confirmed as of March 21 and two people have died from the virus.

Due to the need for social distancing, the bars and restaurants in Samara are closed. Originally bars were ordered to have a maximum of 50 per cent of their capacity open to the public but too few were obeying that order.

Mr Hicken said the beach, a big draw for him and his wife, has been closed with police issuing $600 fines to those in breach of the order. As soon as that happened, the couple “knew it was time to leave.”

“There’s yellow tape everywhere - the length of the whole beach,” Mr Hicken said.

The Hickens are set to go straight into self-isolation when they arrive in Charlottetown. They’ve arranged to have their vehicle waiting for them at the airport to reduce interaction with others.

Over the weekend Chief Public Health Officer Dr Heather Morrison announced anyone entering PEI by land, sea or air would be screened for the virus.

As of Monday, PEI had three confirmed cases of COVID-19.

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(4) comments


no sympathy for selfish people who were told not to travel...but do anyway!

Rita Mac

There wasn't quite enough detail in this report. This couple has been in Costa Rico since Feb. There wasn't a hint of this happening at this time.


It never mentioned anything about being away since Feb.....where you pulling this BS from???


IF the 1st case in Costa Rica was on March 7.....why did they wait until now to find a way out???....OH yes, vacation more important than health!!

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