It arrived like a nuclear bomb, like a cataclysm that has advanced across the world, like a faceless war that has spread across the planet.
The pandemic, which started in late 2019 in China, was not long before knocking on our door. Even those most isolated in the world.
In Portugal, we always have the false feeling that nothing affects us, that in this little corner by the sea, we pass by all the calamities that usually plague others… never us.
But the recent crisis caused by COVID-19 also reached Portuguese soil. The pandemic, which had its nucleus in Asian countries, started to express itself overwhelmingly in Europe. Portugal is no exception.
This month we saw Italy fall from grace; France and Germany showed that the big ones don’t come out unscathed either; Spain entered the abyss day after day and Portugal following in its footsteps (hopefully at a slower pace). The United Kingdom, outside of Europe, seems for the time being to be in denial that it will happen to it the same.
But a pandemic doesn’t choose borders and the USA and Brazil, which until recently minimized the problem, have already begun to feel the consequences of the same outbreak.
Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, all count infected and, for the time being, the African continent seems to suffer the least… but is it really so? Or is there little ability to read the situation they are possibly already experiencing? I hope they have fewer cases. Africa, unfortunately, has a long history of epidemics, so they don’t need another one knocking hard at their door.
We will be travelers again
In this darkest scenario that I, and possibly many of you, ever witnessed, where are the travelers? At home.
Our home is perhaps the place that we try to avoid most during the year. It’s in our blood to be nomads, to hop around from place to place, always looking for new destinations and sites to visit. But our home is now the best place to be.
The health organizations warn that the spread of this pandemic can be controlled if we avoid social contact if we stay at home and refrain from dealing with other humans.
In Portugal (where so far no mandatory quarantine has been decreed), nationals have joined voluntary quarantine. We’re working remotely, taking care of the family, learning to deal with each other, gaining a new love for the kitchen and housekeeping, finding new ways to stay in shape.
It’s a whole new world, which we travelers are also rediscovering.
Until when? Nobody knows. The uncertainty is enormous. But one thing is sure: when all this is over the world will need us, the travelers. It will need us to buy flights to other countries, to stay in accommodation again, to spend money on local shops, to go to restaurants and bars, to go to museums and to do tours.
Italy will need us to return to the Trevi Fountain, in Rome, to toss a coin or to ride the gondolas of Venice; France will need visits to the Louvre, in Paris, and Spain to the Reina Sofia, in Madrid; and Portugal? It will require us all to travel the country and tourists to queue at the Torre de Belém, in Lisbon, or at the Clérigos, in Porto.
Tourism is the economic engine of many nations, including my country, and we will all need to travel again for everyone to recover from this crisis.
For now, we can only roam inside our home. Working on new posts, spending time with family, reading books by other travelers, dealing with thousands of photos from past trips, which never thought they would ever see the light of Lightroom.
Our day of packing and leaving for a new destination will come and hopefully very soon.