Corona Diary of a Travel Agent
Telling someone in the travel industry they’re grounded is like taking a lollipop from a baby.
When the world closed its borders in March 2020, I just finished prancing around the grandest palace devoted to love, the Taj Mahal.
While I was dreamily wondering what was like to have been loved so deeply that your beloved built you a jewel encrusted castle – government authorities were busy issuing ‘Go Home Tourist’ mandates all over the world.
It was my second day in India and I was on a return flight within 24 hours.
You, my friend are laid off for the unforeseeable future
This is not a story of the panic that ensued, but one of my truth and hopes. In the beginning, I thought, okay, sit tight and learn a new trick. It’s going to be alright, right?
By May, I was a basket case that no zoom call could bring relief to. This was the point when tears became waterfalls that I tried to fix with Doritos and the pizza delivery guy. My friends said this is part of grief – and the plague kept on punishing, my colleagues and I worked tirelessly and without compensation to get refunds for customers for trips that would never happen.
By June, Key West opened and I jumped at the chance for a getaway. Driving over miles of bridges that cross so much water I tried to imagine that the water would magically cleanse the disease.
By August, we lost a family member who was the embodiment of the brightest light, who, some say, did not want to exist in a world without hugs.
What a strange and new world this is
By November, Mexico sent an invite. I jumped at this opportunity too. Gearing up with for travel with an arsenal of disinfectants, a new skip in my step and a dusty suitcase in tow, I was on the way to my happy place – an airport at last!
The surreal sense of seeing masked and plastic shielded faces didn’t matter because we had something in common; secret smiles hiding under our masks. We are exploring again.
Please understand, I was the kid in the neighborhood who organized bike rides through the woods just to see what we could find lurking on unpaved trails.
I was the teenager who convinced my girlfriends to hop on busses to meet boys in other towns. Traveling is like breathing.
Collectively, we are better now
The year 2020 and Covid 19 will be remembered as a time of unbelievable loss and chaos. When I look back, I will also choose to remember this time in history as a time of learning, courage and compassion.
We are witness to incredible resilience and hope across our planet. While we are far from perfect, we are stronger and more united for new beginnings. The virus opened people’s eyes about global sameness as we all watched first responders risk their safety to help others.
It is my hope that we embrace anticipation and the feeling of joy that comes with planning something new. That feeling of stepping off a plane to wake to new visions to inspire joy and reminding us to never take for granted what it means to travel.
PS: Diary, Do you think my phone will be ringing off the hook soon? Fingers crossed.
Until next time, thank you for listening.