2020: Traveling in a Pandemic World
Let's start with a quiz:
Do you know how hard it is for Brazilians to not be able to hug their family or anyone around in their own country?
Choose One Answer:
( ) Piece of cake
( ) As hard as facing a healthy world problem in 2020
( ) I have no idea Brazilians like to hug
It's so lovely to have you here, and we might as well continue to reinforce our contact online-only, due to COVID-19, until further notice. As the world went wild and full of fear, doubts, and uncertainty, there it went Drica to her daydream vacation back home to see her family in Brazil. Looking back to when I left the United States on March 4th, I wasn't even thinking the Coronavirus would get to us. I was so excited and concentrated on my travel plans that I literally avoid contact with all sorts of news (it's my normal). The main goal of this vacation was to spend mom's 60th birthday with our family together in Ubatuba, where my parents live. Before that, I had a few other travel plans to explore my country and visit friends in other States. This was the very first time I felt pretty good and super organized with paperwork, timing, schedule, and visits. I was so proud of myself. Still, I didn't bother to watch the news at any minute. As travel plans continued, the day I landed in Rio de Janeiro, my phone went crazy, I thought it was a virus or something… it sort of was… Coronavirus alert from friends in the United States. I was chilling out with my coconut water at Leblon Beach that I dreamed about for at least 17 years. While Brazil was just beautiful, nobody seems to care much. The COVID-19 outbreak was so far out of reach that I kept going, and my plans were intact. The second day in Rio, I felt a little bit of pressure, only because of the media, not because of the people enjoying last summer days at the most magnificent place on earth. I left the city the next afternoon when I could hear Uber drivers complain about the lack of people in the streets. My plane was on time (also very empty), and I was on board to visit a friend in Porto Alegre, south of Brazil. We went to get pizza and didn't see any signs of hysteria around us. Well, probably because I haven't seen my girlfriend in years and we had a lot to talk about, catch up and make plans… plus drink wine. In the next two days, I was perplexed about my next steps to take because my phone was buzzing non-stop with unknown links forward from friends and family. I was out of breath, which made me worry, but it was just anxiety. Porto Alegre streets weren't empty, and most of the businesses were still open... I kept going. When I left south of Brazil, on St. Patrick's Day, the airport was like a ghost town, but I was able to fly back to SP, almost by myself on the plane (I had no problem with that). I stayed for 8 hours at my sister's house before I took the bus to finally meet my parents in Ubatuba on Wednesday, March 18th. It's a 5-hour drive, at this point, all I wanted to do was to hug my parents. It was like a fairytale arriving at their house, far away from the big city, the same day the Brazilian government shut down schools and business, around two weeks after the US did. Think of a mass hysteria. If there's ONE place on earth I could quarantine peacefully, it's definitely there, in Ubatuba, southeast of SP. The urban area is mainly concentrated in the Atlantic and valley areas. The city features over 100 beaches, and it is considered by law 'The Surf Capital of Sao Paulo State. I grew up going there consistently, every summer and winter vacation, hanging out with a bunch of cool cousins, being mini badasses waiting for the full moon to see planktons at night in warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Our entire family members count around 50 people, and we all lived (still do) on the same street, about 0.1 miles away from the beach. What a sweet memory lane! Back to COVID-19 dilemma... The rest of the family couldn't make it and spend my mom's birthday there, so we did over the phone. Everyone cried. Especially me. It was like a giant pan of half cooked veggie soup: gratitude for being there, also a little bit of guilt for ignoring the phone, the news, and refusing to admit my vacation was in crisis, world kind. Big time. With the globe shut down, it was easy to postpone my return, so I allowed myself to just stay... quiet and curious about the books I brought with me. I had six gigantic books, almost like I knew something was about to happen and I would need them all. No wonder why my luggage was heavy! At this point, nothing else matter, it was just priceless and historical to catch up with mom and dad, walk their dogs and go to the groceries, while they stayed safe at home. My return back to America was an impacleble adventure! Ghost airports, Drica suffocated with masks due my lack of experience wearing them, facing a 14-hour layover in Mexico City and sleeping in a capsule. My mom found this 'hotel' room inside the terminal for me to stay so I could avoid virus exposure for an extended period. It was the highlight of my travels. You will see why in my photos (don't miss it). Besides everything else, there's another thing that made me crazy: I didn't have my art supplies with me. I died! I didn't have any store to go to either, so I made sure to write things down, take photos, and so on. You will be impressed with the number of things that It is on the books, half in English, half in Portuguese, just like how my brain works. 'Interesting' times we are living. I hope each of you can find hope and see the light ahead of us. You can find fear, or you can find love and opportunity. Use your fear to find opportunities. Sometimes logic goes outside de box… There's a chance this outbreak will give us… And that's unity. Together apart. We got this! Stay safe, everyone! Thanks for reading. Please feel free to leave a comment or reply to my email.
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