It feels like a decade since I last heard the expression “Happy travels”. Many concerned friends and readers have contacted me, asking if I am okay. They have not seen a post on my blog for months. I am fine. Thank you for your concern.
Truth be told, having a travel website in the midst of a health pandemic such as COVID, is akin to having a lamb on the spit barbecue at a Vegan function.
I personally felt that writing about travel, while it could be an escape for some, may, for many others, be a case of poking the bear. Travel, though so vital an outlet to most of us, just simply had to take a back seat while we dealt with the ramifications of the virus.
While I have waited out the year of lock-down, my thoughts have wandered to memories of experiences past. And one of them, always relatively close to recall, was a scary experience I had a number of years ago at sea.
The parallels to this (mis)adventure struck me as I considered our battle with COVID19 today. I think it aptly illustrates a very instructive lesson for all of us.
Happy Travels but first The Lesson from Neptune
We were on a small 33ft sailboat and had 2 days of getting slammed by momentous waves, high winds, and very real fear for our lives. It was a mind-numbing and terrifying ordeal.
As the storm grew continually worse and hope started to slip from our hearts and minds, the sudden appearance of a blue sliver of sky in the distance brought us to resolve again.
We fixated on the light that danced teasingly in and out from sight as we mounted the crests of waves that were 2-3 stories high, only to drop with a gut-wrenching free fall into the dark trough.
The crew started to calm with the concept of an end in sight. Soon we would escape from the grips of this vicious storm in the Atlantic. The succumb to relief also brought about our adrenal fatigue, dulling us to the very clear and present danger.
Our focus was off the job at hand – i.e. staying afloat and ensuring that we did not broadside a wave and capsize.
Survival was in the Balance
The skipper was a 40-year-old man by the name of Casey. Not the grizzly sea-salted stereotype at all.He was just a regular guy with a number of sailing hours behind him. Leadership was vague and amateurish.
Certainly his commanding was effective enough for a nice gentle sail in calm waters.
However, none of us really had any business being out there in bad weather. I had a coastal skipper’s license and the open ocean was not within my scope of experience.
We were grossly incompetent.
There was a young guy named Graham, maybe in his early twenties.I remember him well. He was quiet and unassuming, almost shy. He hardly spoke or kidded around. He just got on with any task thrown at him with a nod.
Ironically, here he was, the least experienced sailor, who seemed to grasp the reality. He yelled, “We are not there yet, people!”
His voice boomed above the noise of the crashing surf and howling wind, energized by a surreal Thor-like thunder from a frame that belied any such capacity. It was both shocking and amazing.
He was right. We were in more peril at that moment than ever before. With our guard down and the storm raging, the deadly cocktail of the potential disaster was brewing.
The sheer surprise of this vocal ambush seemed to snap us out of any ineffectual trance we were experiencing. Regardless of the blue promise in the distance, we were still in the most severe part of the storm.
This was not the time to batten down the hatches, deny reality and just figure we’d make it. We had to work to get to that light. And work we did.
We had to reset the storm jib and reef the trysail. Sailing under storm conditions is hazardous but we could direct and control the vessel towards our goal.
Tethered on that open deck, we could have been washed off in seconds. But we persisted.Towing a drogue and storm sail set, we steered our way.
One of our crew members was bleating that we should hunker down and wait it out. “The storm was ending”, he argued.
No, it was not. Had we waited, we could have perished in the inactivity of hope. Happily we made it.
Home and dry? No!
The analogy here holds true for the storm of COVID we are now in. There is light, for sure. But it is way too early to attempt to go about business as usual and not take precautions.
We have not reached the end. We are at the beginning of the end. We are now in a massive storm that is getting worse.
Even if you want to deny science and think it’s all a big noise over nothing, please just suspend your disbelief and try to work together with your fellow man.
Let us all find that quiet calm AFTER the storm. It is getting so much closer.
Wear a mask, stay away from extended family, don’t travel this one Christmas and New Year, and accept that this is a small sacrifice for the reward of normality that will eventually come.
So, where are we now?
Like the storm I described, we are in the fury of it. It will get worse. But the light is in sight as vaccines are approved and rolled out. Could this be the end? We certainly hope so.
I, for one, am taking the leap of faith and will now continue to talk of travel and the future to come.
And things will take a long while to get back to where we were in the normality of living 2019 style.
The vaccines do not cure. They defend and can only defend when a sizeable proportion of the worlds population is immunized. It’s about the success of a vaccine program and not a vaccine.
So, we definitely are not there yet. And in this fog of confusion, frustration, anger, despair and loss, we have so many naysayers. Those who will cry fake, hoax, conspiracy and denial.
For most people who believe science and the facts in front of them this is infuriating.
Lecturing anyone does not help. It doesn’t matter if you believe it or not. It does not matter if you think this is the theft of your liberty. It does not matter if this is a political statement that you are making.
Winning comes with trying a different route, even if you do not buy into the idea. You don’t have to be wrong. This is not about judgement. Just be a temporary player on the other side.
We need 70% of the people to comply and we can get out of this nightmare. Let’s help all of us get to the next stage.
I am excited. I think many are starting to share that excitement. Web traffic in travel related searches has now surpassed pre-Covid levels.
The interest and demand for 2021 is there since the news of the vaccines. We are all desperate to enjoy a normal life again filled with lots of happy travels.
Now we need to get there!