Google memories reminded me that five years ago, April 2015, we were just finding our stride as we started walking what would be 350 miles on the Camino de Santiago across Spain. One year ago, April 2019, we set out to walk 145 miles of the Camino Portuguese. Taking on a long walk is a journey in which one can easily lose track of time and days. It becomes your life, all consuming. Now, here we are, April 2020, living by far the most surreal existence to date. I call it, life in a pandemic bubble. I can’t define it any other way. It too, is all consuming.
Let me just say right up front that I fully realize how fortunate we are, as we navigate our way through the pandemic bubble. We have a home and we have food in the pantry. And, knock on wood, we are healthy.
Pandemic Bubble Day 36
Today, is our 36th day of living in our stay-at-home pandemic bubble. It’s as if the rest of the world has ceased to exist, because we just don’t see it. We take long walks so we pass a few people here and there, and we see cars on the streets, but beyond that we don’t see much in real time.
We have our groceries delivered. We’ve cancelled all of our doctor and dentist appointments. Literally, we have not stepped foot into a public or private building for 36 days.
Question. How does one write a travel blog when travel is the last thing people are thinking about? One doesn’t. At least, I don’t. I’ve written a few pieces over the past couple of months, but not much, and they weren’t necessarily travel focused. I can’t bring myself to pontificate about the virtues of travel when millions of people are struggling on so many levels. It would seemingly be tone deaf to do so.
Missing the Process
I do, however, also write about redefining retirement and all that navigating retirement entails. From time-to-time I write about lifestyles and foodies, and every once in a while I get up on my soap box and share a few politically oriented thoughts. Right now, I’m missing the writing process. I feel as if I have a lot to write about, but haven’t yet been to able to pull my thoughts together in a way that would be appropriate for our site. This is my attempt to do so.
Taxation Without Representation
We live in the state of Maryland, near Washington, DC. The state of Virginia, along with Maryland and DC encompass what is known as the DMV; the metropolitan area centered around Washington, DC. I was just about to write the three states have been working together as the governors lead us through the pandemic, but Washington, DC is not a state. Without statehood, the 700,000+ residents of DC have no representation in either the House of Representatives or the Senate. DC license plates are actually embedded with the phrase, “Taxation Without Representation.” But, that’s a story for another day.
A Blue State
As such, we have two governors and one mayor working as a team to contain the virus and minimize the number of cases. The governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, is a Republican in an essentially blue state. While I don’t agree with some of his political philosophies, I will give him credit for the way in which he has handled this health crisis. Governor Hogan is the current chair of the National Governor’s Association and he has not been afraid to hold his own when dealing with the White House.
Stay at Home
In Maryland, we are currently on mandated stay-at-home. As I mentioned we’re on day 36. All non-essential businesses are closed, although many restaurants are able to offer curbside pick up and/or delivery. Anyone who goes to the grocery store, or the gas station, or picks up a prepared food order, etc., must wear a mask, as do all workers in essential businesses.
I have spent the past weeks thinking long and hard trying to come up with another time in my life when I found the world so completely out of whack. Maybe 9/11?
Here in the US, not only are we dealing with a roller coaster of emotions while trying to keep our heads above the fray and staying healthy; we are also dealing with the politicalization of the pandemic. And, of course, the upcoming election in November. It’s a double whammy.
The Divided States
We watch, listen and/or read the daily news and quite often find ourselves heartsick. Millions of people are in such need. Sadly, the country is divided like it’s never been before, at least not that I can remember. People are angry, frustrated and seemingly feel helpless, no matter which side of the political aisle they favor.
The constant barrage of headlines, briefings, ugly tirades, and tweets is suffocating. Governors, on both sides of the aisle, are forming coalitions and bypassing the White House to do what’s needed for their states. Other governors chose not to implement any stay-at-home mandates and well-orchestrated (in part by the Michigan Conservative Council) protests against said mandates are now popping up, especially in states with Democrat governors.
The nation has become the Divided States, far from being United in anything. It’s heartbreaking.
Impact on Travel
It’s hard to know how this will all pan out. Over time the virus will pass and life will resume to some level of normalcy, but it will be a long slow process. We all know, the travel and hospitality industries have taken the brunt of the pandemic, world-wide.
No one can say with any certainty when or if borders will open, when flights will take off or when ships will set sail. All of that needs to take place before hotels can open their doors and the food and beverage industry can start serving again.
Will European nations even open their borders? President Macron is already warning it may not happen until the fall. Summer travel plans may remain just that… plans. And, you know what they say about making plans, right?
The border between Canada and the US will remain closed to non-essential travel for another 30 days. I’m willing to bet it will go beyond 30 days.
As European nations, and other countries around the world, begin to open their borders, will they open them to US citizens? After all, the US is behind the game in terms of a recovery time frame and developing a vaccine.
There is another side to the debate as well… will the world embrace travel to the US? The country isn’t exactly looking pretty in the eyes of the world. Only time will tell.
Look for the Silver Lining
If there is a silver lining to this horrid pandemic, it would be the positive impact it’s had on the environment. Air pollution levels are dropping. The Himalayas are visible in Northern India, and the water in the Venice canals is clear.
Of course we all want to resume our travels. But now that we know the impact of being still has on the environment, at what price do we pack our bags? Hopefully, responsible tourism will prevail as we find our way back to taking off once again. After all of this, I think we’re going to need to take another long walk. I have my eye on The Dingle Way Trail in Ireland.
How about you? Where do you want to go when you’re able to do so?
Life in a Pandemic Bubble
From where we sit, we don’t believe life will ever again be the same. This can be a good thing, or it can be a not so good thing. It depends on the individual perspective.
“All great changes are preceded by chaos.” Deepak Chopra
As a couple we will continue to stay-at-home for a minimum of another 30 – 45 days. We’re listening to the doctors, nurses, and scientists. We haven’t worked this hard to stay healthy, and to keep our family healthy, to just throw in the towel at this point. While we can understand the push to get back to work and reopen the country, it will be disheartening should the virus peek again as boundaries are pushed too soon.
As for the upcoming election… I feel pretty confident in predicting it’s going to get a whole lot of ugly before it gets better, no matter which side of the political aisle one favors. Buckle up!