As the day drew closer to our trip the news regarding COVID 19 was just numbers and statistics that were chasing us. I didn’t know yet to run or hide, I just knew there were people who it had caught up with and they didn’t live where I did. I was thankful for that, and I made the decision to continue on with a much-anticipated adventure that I had made financial, physical and mental preparations for. My sister, my niece, and my friend Brittany would be backpacking in remote areas of Patagonia for 7 days. We would be sleeping in tents, zip lining across canyons and rivers, climbing mountains, and traversing glaciers. I thought we would go home and go back to our normal routines and lives.
What are you passionate about? What gets you excited for the future and gives you something to look forward to? My passion is travelling and dining at fancy restaurants.
The lack of appreciation for your surroundings happens to the best of us. The effect of getting swallowed up by the daily routine is soul sucking.
Just like for the next multimedia-obsessed person, scrolling through my camera roll’s almost seven thousand pictures and videos is, simply put, no easy feat to tackle on any given day; but doing it today, in the midst of all the confusion, anger, uncertainty and bizarre abnormality of what has now become our socially-distant and ever-changing everyday life, was somehow even harder than I expected.
This photo was taken at the Mount Aksla outlook in Ålesund, Norway just three days shy of the unknown chaos that was soon taking over our world. There were rumors of the “possibilities” that nations all over the world might endure, but we never really could have imagined what was unfolding as we went about our normal lives. Here I am, spending my day exploring, not a thought crossing my mind about the virus or potential quarantine I found myself in only days later. I never would have guessed this would be the last adventure I would be taking for a long time.
February 2020. Somewhere in New Mexico. Right off I-40 West, heading towards Route 66. I take the exit towards America's Mother road and cross train tracks, passing a beaten down and abandoned gas station. My tired jeep pulls to a stop and I look ahead. A brown road that stretches across the enchanting desert. The yellow line that divides the concrete sides starts to fade in the distant. I catch my breath. I had found it.
My job has always involved a great deal of travel. That’s a decision I made when I decided to cater for two cities that were 200 miles away from each other and I’ve grown, over time, to really enjoy the process. Long train journeys allow for a lot of time to reflect and to think. Generally, I try not to consume my time with work whilst I travel, but rather enjoy the peace of my journey, listen to music or read a book. I find that it’s one of the few times I allow myself the courtesy of enjoying an album, start to finish, or actually sitting down to read a book or listen to a podcast. These are things I undeniably enjoy but rarely give myself the time to indulge in, so travelling, for me, is a nice break in my days and weeks to allow myself to enjoy these things without a sense of guilt.
I remember arriving at Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport the previous day before this photograph was taken, immediately I sensed that this Covid19 was a nightmare. South Africa, as an economic hub in Sub-Saharan region was already hit, and would be soon feel the impact hard. Social distancing was already implemented by the airport authorities. When I queued to get my passport to be stamped at the immigration I stood a distant away from the desk, prior I had already gone through temperature check up for high fever and mandatory being asked to sanitize my hands. I continued to collect my luggage at the carousel and amazingly the bags were ready for collection without waiting time at all. On my way out I stopped for a few minutes at the bathroom. When I came out there was no one in the passage hall leading to the Customs desks. I hastily rushed out hoping to catch up with the handful of people that I was on board with on the rather massive Boeing 737 flight from Blantyre, Malawi. At the Customs the officers on duty just directed me to the way out without the usual long scrutinizing process of checking your declaration form and goods. It’s when I got out of airport entrance foyer I saw an antire different atmosphere from what I’d left behind a few weeks ago. The usual almost pandemonium environment associated with this place was completely nonexistent. Taxi drivers approached me every single minute to offer a lift which at that time I was not interested in. I needed to insert my local SIM card, get Talktime and call a few friends first because I had not decided yet where I’d spend the night and when I’d leave for Cape Town.
I'm pretty sure this song comes to mind when quarantine is over and you start hugging all the people you know; like what I’d do with the people in the photo above: