I’ve sometimes wondered what I would do if I couldn’t travel. What would I do for work? What would I do for fun? How would I add value to my life?
Now I know.
While we know beyond a doubt that Covid-19 isn’t the black death and is only mildly dangerous — if that — to a relatively small group of people, our world has still not come to its senses. Scientists have done the studies, the Bill Gates-funded fear mongering initial reports that estimated millions of deaths have been thoroughly debunked, municipalities who artificially boosted death counts have been called out, and even the CDC downgraded their Covid infection fatality rate from the WHO’s 3.4% to a paltry 0.26% — a number that’s looking as if it’s even going to drop lower as the rate of asymptomatic cases that they used was extremely conservative (India, for example, has the IFR at 0.08%, or less deadly than a bad strain of influenza). According to the CDC, the Covid-19 death rate for people under 50 who develop symptoms is a pathetic 1 in 5,000 — and somewhere between 30% and 80% of people are asymptomatic. We now also know that Covid-19 mortality never achieves exponential growth, regardless of preventative measures, so those prolonged lock downs that we’ve been living under … well, they didn’t really do much of anything. On top of that, scientists have found that 40-60% of people actually have preexisting resistance to Sars-Cov-2 — and upwards of 80% of the population may not even be susceptible to it in the first place.
Meanwhile, only 520,000 people worldwide have perished from the disease since it was identified in December, which is small fries when compared to the death tolls of an array of other diseases, such as sepsis, which had killed more than ten times that number over the same period.
We destroyed our country, decimated thousands of small businesses, put millions out of work, and sacrificed the futures of our children for a sham.
However, our governments still hold fast to their original positions, not wanting to relinquish their grips on the hard-ons of absolute power … and nobody knows how long this is going to last.
This leaves those who make their livings traveling in an extremely precarious position. If we can’t travel, we can’t work. What now? Do we just hang out and continue weathering the storm? Do we find a new profession? Do we join the mob and start tearing down statues? (It does seem to be good business calling other people racist these days … although I’m not sure how good “witch hunter” would look on a resume.)
I don’t want to do another job. The thought of starting something new from the ground up and building skills and knowledge used to feel exhilarating. Now it feels nauseating. I’ve come too far to turn back. I also can’t come up with anything else that I’d like doing. I look at other jobs and nothing seems as appealing as “traveling the world writing stories and making videos about whatever I find interesting.”
That said, our cities and countries are opening internally, but what’s the good of that if your meal ticket involves the crossing of borders. I can’t even go back to my home city of Buffalo and cross the border into Canada. Fuck, NY state is even trying to force people from a select list of states (coincidentally all run by the contending political party) to quarantine for two weeks. So what do I do?
I do what travelers have always done: you look at a map and find the open route. It’s the same game we’ve always played … albeit with a few less options.
So I pull up the IATA Covid-19 travel regulations map last night and dove in. They divide the world into four categories: totally restrictive, partially restrictive, not restrictive, and under review — basically politically remote countries that nobody knows anything about.
I’m not going to bother with any country that is in the first two categories — I’m not flying somewhere just to be quarantined for two weeks and I definitely don’t want to find myself Trevor’ed somewhere. The regulations of many countries are currently complicated and seem to be rapidly in flux, and few travelers place bets on immigration officials keeping up to date with their own rules. Even if the rules were known and followed, I’m not willing to deposit $3,000 into a foreign bank, undergo a forced Covid test, or wear a fucking tracking device like I’m a criminal just to go to another country.
Read this thread:
I’ve landed in Hong Kong after flying from Paris CDG, via London Heathrow. I now have to wait ~8 hours before I get my #COVID19 test results and thus have ample time to tweet about my experience. pic.twitter.com/jCDPuwrTzL
— Laurel Chor (@laurelchor) May 14, 2020
No way I’m doing that.
So what does that leave me with?
Mexico, Haiti, Serbia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Ukraine, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Egypt just opened up as I was writing this.
So there are places to go, but the question is where to go next? Travelers rarely plot their journeys one move at a time, but rather envision a progression of stops spanning a region. So I can get into Haiti, but then what? I can’t go to the Dominican Republic; all of the other Caribbean islands are closed. Sure, I can go to Serbia, but my next moves from there are limited to Kosovo and Macedonia — which would be cool but where to after that?
On the other hand, desperate times require alternate strategies. Travel in 2020 is a seller’s market — us paupers need to take what we can get. Also, as time goes on more and more countries will, theoretically, open their doors.
So what am I going to do? Nearly all of the countries that I’ve been focused on are still closed, so I will need to start up a new project … what am I saying? There is only one clear choice: Mexico.
Mexico is a giant, diverse, engaging country that I have spent extended amounts of time in between 2010 and 2012. The problem is that I haven’t written about the place in years. I have no journalistic connections there. I would be starting from scratch.
But Serbia –> Kosovo –> Macedonia would work too. I’ve covered that region recently and could probably pick up where I left off. My apprehension is how much longer they can maintain their open positions. Politicians in Serbia are already feeling the heat for reopening, and going there now seems to be a precarious move. Trevor is there now and is enjoying his newfound freedom … but how long will it be before we have a new “trapped in …” series coming from him?
But anywhere is probably better than where I’m stuck now. It’s difficult to live for four months under authoritarian decrees and smile happily at a place. New York City is a luxury — it’s nothing that anyone really needs.
So what’s your take, dear readers, where should I go next?