l a i c e sp e h t â€” n Duis aute o i t di dolor! eirure n i d l wor s i s i r c 1
letter from the editor As I sat listening to the news that Giuseppe Conte, Prime Minister of Italy, had essentially locked down the entire nation last week, a horrible sadness swept over me. I am a dual American-Italian citizen, and what is happening in my second home (Italy) to my family and friends worries me. Most of their businesses, slow as the virus took its foothold, have been decimated as they have had to close. Others live in fear that the virus may infect them, and they stay indoors, refusing to even go outside to breathe fresh air. As time goes on, the virus has brought Italy to its knees, in the words of one friend, and they wonder if life will ever return to normal. I am not an alarmist, but I know that this virus is very serious, especially for the senior population of the world. On Thursday, March 12, I asked members of IFWTWA if they had stories to share on how they, as travelers and travel writers, are handling the pandemic and if they would be willing to share them with our readers. Many of them quickly wrote and sent me articles, and in this special issue of Food, Wine, Travel Magazine, we present them to you. This may not be the most beautiful issue weâ€™ve put out, but we want you to find not only useful information on what you can do during these trying times but also stories that will tell you what and how others around the world are doing. We hope that even in this upsetting time, you find something to reassure and inspire you. More than anything, we hope you will stay safe. Know that once this emergency is over, we will be here to motivate and guide you on your travels. My best to you and yours,
s i r h C Christine Cutler Executive Editor
Christine Cutler | Executive Editor Debbra Dunning Brouilette | AssociateEditor Noreen Kompanik | Associate Editor Irene Levine | Assistant Editor Jan Smith | Assistant Editor, Columns Robyn Nowell | Marketing Manager Paula Shuck | Marketing
Debbra Dunning Brouilette David Drotar MaryFarah Kurt Jaconbson Irene Levine
David Nershi Robyn Nowell Amy Piper Jan Smith
Contributing Writers/Photographers Debbra Dunning Brouilette Diane Dobry Betsi Hill Therese Iknoian Noreen Kompanik Veronica Matheson Janie Pace Paula Shuck Wendy Van Hatten
Christine Cutler Sue Frause Michael Hodgson Scott Kendall Sharon Kurtz Nancy Mueller Terumi Pong Lori Sweet Shelly Wilfong
All articles & photographs are copyright of writer unless otherwise noted. No part of this publication may be reproduced without express written permission.
Magazine Layout & Design Christine Cutler
Editor: email@example.com IFWTWA: firstname.lastname@example.org Marketing: email@example.com Visit our website: fwtmagazine.com
On the cover: Toronto Lester B. Pearson International Airport; Courtesy Voyage Writers
Food, Wine, Travel Magazine is an official publication of the International Food, Wine, Travel Writers Association.
A Message From the IFWTWA Board of Directors
Dear Readers, We know the current coronavirus situation is affecting all of us, both as travelers and as travel writers. Just as you are, our members are wondering whether to cancel scheduled plans. We wonder what to say to you, our readers and followers. Our best advice is to stay calm and remain positive about the future of travel. Everyone has to make his or her best decisions based on personal risk factors and specific travel plans and destinations. There are obviously no right or wrong answers right now â€” except to wash your hands! Although there are many uncertainties about the direction this crisis may take, the bottom line is that "this too shall pass.â€? And when it is over, the members of IFWTWA will be here to guide you as your travel plans emerge again. Now is the time to explore possibilities for the future. It is also a good time to network virtually with friends for support, focus on the positive, and take good care of yourselves. IFWTWA Board of Directors
Table of Contents 1 From the Editor 2 A Message from the IFWTWA Board of Directors 5 Just the Facts 7 What You Can Do to Stay Safe When Traveling 8 What is Social Distancing? 9 Ten Under-the-Radar Ideas to Satisfy Your Desire To Travel 11 Visit Hundreds of Museums Without Ever Leaving Home 12 Dispatch from the U.S. COVID-19 Epicenter: Seattle 13 Double Whammy for Australians 14 Coronavirus and Its Effect on Travel 15 Coronavirus: Face the Challenge 17 Do We Stay or Do We Go? 18 Travel in the Time of Pandemic 19 When It's Actually Time to Stop Traveling and Stay Home 20 Moving Target of COVID-19 Pandemic’s Impact on Travel 21 When Staying Safe Means Staying Home 23 Being chased home by Blinky, Inky, & Company 25 How Ya Gonna Keep ‘em Down on the Farm, After They’ve Seen Par-eee? 26 An Ounce of Coronavirus Prevention 27 London in Springtime? Not So Fast 28 This Is Beyond… The Effects of COVID-19 Get Personal 29 The Last Words
The effect of the virus on the world.
Just the Facts
By Christine Cutler
As we are all aware, the first outbreak of the respirator y illness now known as coronavirus (COVID-19) was identified in Wuhan, China. Most of those first patients were linked to large seafood and live animal markets, causing oﬃcials to report the virus was animal-to-person spread. As the virus continued to spread, most had no link to the markets which, in turn, indicated a person-to-person spread.
two weeks in ICU. The sheer number of patients has taxed the staﬀs, and while the nurse-to-patient ratio should be about 1-to-6, it is currently at 1-to-12 or more. Worse, there is a lack of suﬃcient number of ventilators, and doctors have to decide which patients receive intubation and which are left to die.
Novelia DiGianantonio, a resident of Sulmona who is in her 60s, told me that after reading that doctors are Coronaviruses are not new. They are a family of having to choose whom to save, she spent the day viruses that are common in both crying. “Up until a few days ago I people and animals, particularly knew that only God could have cattle, cats, bats, and camels. taken my life,” she said. “Now, I Because this virus spread so am not sure anymore. I might be rapidly, some people have no too old for the coronavirus, and idea how or where they picked with this pandemic, human up the virus. beings can take his place and decide that it is time for me to go. Who gives them the right? Severity Isn't all life precious?” Reports from China state that ~Novelia DiGianantonio the majority of the COVID-19 Luckily for Novelia, Sulmona is cases are relatively mild, but 16 in the Abruzzo region, one area that has not had a percent are serious. Anyone with an underlying large number of COVID-19 cases. The Italian chronic medical condition and senior citizens are at government’s decision to first quarantine the risk of developing serious complications, including COVID-19 red zone in the north and then shut down pneumonia. In China, 80 percent of those who died the entire country will help stem the spread of the were over 60 years of age; in Italy, the epicenter of disease there. (Note the graph on opposite page.) the outbreak in Europe, the average age of those who have died from the virus is 81.4 years. (Note: Italy has Most countries will face the same problems as Italy if the oldest population in Europe with its median age they cannot stop the illness from spreading. There being 47.3 years; the median age of the US, as an simply are not enough beds and ventilators to handle example, is 38.3 years.) In the sheer number of serious cases that healthcare professionals will face if the virus grows unchecked. Italy
“Up until a few days ago I knew that only God could have taken my life. Now, I am not sure anymore…”
At the time of this writing, Italy has almost 25,000 active cases of COVID-19; more that 1800 people have died from it. Hospitals in the north are under stress with severely ill patients spending more than
Photo at top: Bologna’s normally busy Strada Maggiore is empty with the lockdown.
Slowing the Infection Rate Joining Italy in lockdown this weekend (March 14) was Spain. Germany will close its borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg and Denmark on March 16. The Netherlands and Ireland ordered all schools, day-care centers, restaurants and bars to close until next month; Morocco has suspended all international flights; and the US banned all flights from China, and state governors are taking extreme measures to mitigate their citizensâ€™ exposure to the virus. Chinaâ€™s practice of quarantining and lockdowns to lessen exposure to COVID-19 has worked. In addition to closing schools, movies, malls, and nonessential businesses, open businesses must close at 6:00 pm,. They are sprayed with disinfectant, and streets are fumigated regularly. Building sterilization takes place several times a day. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, advises things will get worse before they get better. He advises the US needs to limit the admission of infected people coming from other countries as well as contain local outbreaks within the country. Taking preventive measures to flatten the spread of the virus will ease the stress on the health system and stem the flow of the illness.
COVID-19 = CoronavirusDisease-2019 6
What You Can Do to Stay Safe When Traveling By Paula Schuck
What’s that saying? Prepare for the worst; expect the best. Savvy travelers understand that and apply it consistently every time they travel. Safety should always be high priority when traveling, no matter where you go. So where should you begin? I am a list maker when I prepare to travel, so I start with the basics and tick boxes oﬀ methodically. Being prepared before I go and knowing I did everything I could to plan ahead are crucial to my level of comfort when I am away. Insurance is high priority. It’s not enough to buy insurance when you travel; you also need to know what the insurance plan says. Read it and familiarize yourself with what the policy covers. When I went to Zambia with Shot at Life for a fellowship in 2016, I made sure I knew all of the clauses. I asked if I’d be covered if I had to fly home in an emergency. Also, I wanted to know if I had an accident or died suddenly if the insurance fly my body home to family. Research a repatriation clause. Sounds morbid, but I would never want to leave my family struggling with that. Tragedy happens. You can’t predict it, but you can prepare. Always have some money easily available. Get local currency as soon as you get to your destination or take it with you. Ideally, have room on a credit card, in case you have an emergency that requires booking a flight or a quick visit to a doctor abroad. Further to that theme, pack medicine and medical supplies that you know will need remain with you. Pack for a few days more than what you know you will need. My one daughter has anxiety. My other has special needs, and I have Crohn’s Disease. Our medicine is high priority. We travel together as a family, and I am in charge of making sure we all have enough medicine with us
always. I never leave home without fever reducer, pain reliever, and allergy medicine. Keep a photocopy of your passport and itinerary with you and leave one at home with someone you trust. Too often people lose their passports, and they can be stuck. Having a couple of photocopies, and leaving one with a friend, travel agent, or relative helps. Taking a road trip? Get your car serviced first. Tires, oil, brakes. Be careful. Check reliable news sources before you leave. This week, we were scheduled to take a family trip to Vermont from our home in Ontario, Canada. We monitored hourly news updates regarding corona vir us tra vel protocols and unfortunately had to postpone the trip when the federal government advised ceasing all non-essential travel outside of the country. That was a hard call to make, but it was also safest and the recommended course of action. You don’t want to be stranded somewhere and unable to get home. Another important source to check is the CDC (Centre for Disease Control.) Register your travels with a government organization in your home country. In Canada, the federal government operates a travel registry. It’s always prudent to add your name to this free registry so oﬃcials can send you alerts if there are natural disasters, civil unrest, or emergencies when you travel. In the US, embassies and consulates annually assist nearly 200,000 Americans who are victims of crime, accident, or illness, or whose family and friends need to contact them in an emergency. Visit this site to register in Canada: https:// travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration Register your trip with STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program). In the US, you can register here.
What Is Social Distancing? Social distancing is nothing new. Health oﬃcials and physicians have long urged its practice to slow the spread of highly contagious diseases such as COVID-19. By reducing close contact of people who are not regularly together, social distancing can delay transmission of the disease and reduce infection, illness, and death. The most crucial defense is to cancel events and/or activities whenever possible, to minimize the number of participants at events that cannot be canceled, and to put space between individuals in public (Six feet is the distance advised.)
USE CAUTION STAY SAFE BY
• Gatherings & meetings • Mall Shopping • Gyms • Mass Transit • Athletic Events • Concerts, Theaters • Playdates • Sleepovers • Movies • In-person meetings
• Going to restaurants • Grocery shopping • Going to church services • Going to work • Traveling • Visiting libraries • Visiting pharmacies • Getting take-out
• Taking a walk or hike • Going for a drive • Reading • Bringing your lunch to work • Cleaning the house • Keeping in touch via video chats • Listening to music or podcasts • Taking a virtual tour*
* See page 11 for virtual tour ideas.
We’ll be thankful that we’re over reacting. ~ Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director National Institute of Allergies & Infectious Diseases
Coronavirus Got You Homebound?
Ten Under-the-Radar Ideas to Satisfy Your Desire To Travel By Betsi Hill
With so much information circulating about the coronavirus (COVID-19), it is hard to discern what is truth and what is not. Schools are closing all around the country. People are working from home. Stockpiling, panic buying, and social distancing are becoming the norm. Unless you are under quarantine, you'll might find yourself going stir crazy sitting at home glassy-eyed watching 24-hour news coverage of the coronavirus. As long as you are able to move around a bit, here are some ideas to satisfy your travel desires.
Go outside! Grab your family and head out to the great outdoors. Take a scavenger hike. Create a simple list, and as you hike and spend time together as a family, search for the scavenger items.
Walk on the Beach and Search for Treasure If you are lucky to live near the coast, slather on the sunscreen. Grab your hat and towel and head to the beach. You never know what you'll find! You may find treasures like sea creatures or gold and silver pieces on your beach walk.
Go Shelling Another fun activity for those who live near the beach is to head for your nearest beach, slip your shoes oďŹ€, and walk the shoreline searching for the perfect shell(s). This fun activity can involve the whole family. After shelling, you can create a memorable piece of art with all of your shells.
Get out on the water Grab your camera, bottled water, and sunscreen, and take a trip through the local waterways on a kayak or stand up paddle board (SUP). Your head will be swiveling as you spot fish, waterfowl, flora, and fauna on your journey.
What could be more refreshing than spending the day out in the fresh air, on the water with your family? The bonus is that you are out of the house, and cleansing your body with some good fresh air!
Take a Staycation in Your Hometown Take this opportunity to explore the sights of your hometown. No matter where we live, we don't always see the side of our hometown the way visitors do. Stop in and visit your local tourism oďŹƒce or search them online. Make a list of which sights intrigue you, grab your family, and explore. You'll be surprised by what you'll discover when you are a visitor in your own backyard!
Create a "Dine Around" in Your Hometown As long as restaurants are open, you might consider making a list of the restaurants in your hometown that you have not visited before. Once a week, stop into a new restaurant, brewery, or winery. If these establishments have to close to everything except takeout, take advantage of that service, too. Share your visit on social media, tag the location, and encourage your friends and other locals to visit also. You are creating a win-win for the restaurant and yourself.
Become a Geocacher Geocaching is a global scavenger hunt. You'll hunt for hidden containers using a GPS app. It's the new way to treasure hunt, and you'll learn about your hometown at the same time!
Have a Family Travel-Planning Night Once or twice a year, my husband Jim and I sit down with pens, paper, boating charts, and travel books to plan out our big trips. In the past, we've taken trips to Jamaica, the Bahamas, the Florida Keys, Europe, and a road trip through the Southwest. Set some rules before the planning begins, including a budget, and then let your imaginations run wild.
Take an International Food Trip at Home Create a menu that will get the whole family involved. While you are all cooking up a storm, you can also talk about the country that you are featuringâ€”their
culture, traditions, history, and art. This will not only intrigue your kids but will help instill in them a curiosity to explore other cultures.
Enjoy an International Wine Night at Home Invite a handful of adult friends over for an international wine night tasting. Each friend contributes their favorite bottle of wine and tasting notes of the wine. The tasting notes should include the name of the wine and a description. As host, provide wine glasses and light appetizers. Set up the wines on a table with copies of the tasting notes in front of each wine. Hopefully these ten ideas will help fuel your ideas for satisfying the travel itch, spending time with your family, and learning about diďŹ€erent cultures and traditions not only in your hometown but around the world.
Visit Hundreds of Museums Without Ever Leaving Home
By Christine Cutler
Photos (L-R) The Lourve, Paris, France; The O’Keeffe, Santa Fe; The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia; All ©Chris Cutler
Being stuck at home is not fun whether you are sick or not. If you have some time on your hands, instead of letting the kids spend hours watching cartoons or playing video games, let them take a virtual tour of museums and galleries around the world. More than 500 international museums teamed up with Google to oﬀer you a look at their exhibits no matter where you are. This list is in no way complete. You can click on the link to get to a virtual tour or visit the Google Arts & Culture page to access more than 1300 collections.
The High Museum of Art—Atlanta The Museum of Fine Arts—Boston Dallas Museum of Art—Dallas The Detroit Institute of Art—Detroit The Alberta Foundation for the Arts—Edmonton, Alberta, Canada The JP Getty Museum; Los Angeles Museo Nacional de Arte—Mexico City, Mexico Museo Frida Kahlo—Mexico City, Mexico The Metropolitan Museum of Art—New York City The Studio Museum in Harlem—New York City O’Keeﬀe Museum—Santa Fe, New Mexico Museo Arocena—Torreon, Mexico The National Gallery of Art—Washington, DC The National Museum of Women in the Arts— Washington, DC The US Holocaust Memorial Museum—Washington, DC
Today Art Museum—Beijing, China Our Place—Auckland, New Zealand National Gallery of Australia—Canberra, Australia Bridgestone Museum of Art—Chuo City, Japan Hong Kong Museum of Art—Hong Kong National Gallery of Modern Art—New Delhi, India Art Gallery New South Wales—Sydney, Australia National Palace Museum—Taipei, Taiwan Tokyo Fuji Art Museum—Tokyo, Japan Center for Art, New Ventures & Sustainable Development (CANVAS)—Quezon City, Philippines
Europe Rijksmuseum—Amsterdam, The Netherlands The Acropolis—Athens, Greece Accademia di Belle Arti di Bologna—Bologna, Italy The Royal Museum of Fine Art—Brussels, Belgium Uﬃzi Gallery—Florence, Italy The National Museum in Krakow—Krakow, Poland National Gallery of Art—London, England The Lourve—Paris, France The National Gallery—Prague, Czech Republic The Hermitage Museum—St. Petersburg, Russia
South America Colección de Arte Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat— Buenos Aires, Argentina Museo de Arte de Lima—Lima, Peru The Football Museum—São Paulo, Braˆl Museu Paulista—São Paulo, Brazil Museo de Artes Universidad de los Andes—Santiago, Chile
Africa TIRAZ widad kawar home for arab dress—Amman, Jordan Iziko Museums of South Africa—Cape Town, South Africa Doxandem Squad—Dakar , Senegal Rele Arts Foundation—Lagos, Nigeria National Museums of Kenya—Nairobi, Kenya
Dispatch from the U.S. COVID-19 Epicenter: Seattle
By Nancy Mueller
Yesterday a travel pal reminded me that it had been just two short weeks ago that we had flown home after a visit to Vancouver Island. We had had quite the adventure making our way to Sooke Point, the southernmost tip of the island, arriving in the midst of galeforce winds. But we had no idea of the adventure awaiting us once we headed home to Seattle. My colleague noted that just two short weeks earlier, kids were in school, she had been p l a n n i n g a n A p r i l t r i p to France, and cars and buses were clogging freeways and city streets as usual. Yet, news reports had begun trickling in about an elderly patient who had contracted coronavirus at a nursing facility east of Seattle. By the end of that week, his death became the first known case of the new virus in the United States, sounding the alarm of a potential outbreak in our region. The sense of residents beginning to withdraw into self-quarantine became palpable overnight. Initially, when colleagues across the country asked how things were going in Seattle, I responded that we were following CDC guidelines, washing our hands, going about our business as usual, though vast quantities of store supplies like toilet paper, water, hand sanitizers, and cold medicine had quickly vanished. What’s happened since then has been surreal. The Wo r l d He a l t h Organization (WHO) ha s d e c l a r e d C OV I D - 1 9 a pandemic, national sports events have been cancelled, and Seattle’s swagger as an unstoppable economic engine has been eﬀectively put on
pause as we grapple with the impact of emergency measures now in place: no public gatherings of more than 250 people and all public and private K-12 schools ordered closed in three counties until at least April 24th. As fears of a wider outbreak take hold, the Archdiocese of Seattle ha s suspended public Masses, Seattle Public Libraries have shut their doors, and businesses have followed suit at accelerating speed faster than I can write. Countless restaurants, the Space Needle, and Seattle Art Museums have all closed, and the Port of Seattle has canceled the first two cruise ship sailings of the season. All that said, Seattle is no stranger to innovation and ingenuity. We are a city of scrappy individuals adept at adapting to changing fortunes and making the most of unexpected opportunities. Many of us are hunkering down for now, working from home r whenever possible, perhaps baking more cookies and cooking more comfort foods than normal, while keeping one eye on the local and national news. We continue to take personal safety measures, washing hands even more often and enthusiastically than just two weeks ago, minimizing contact with friends and colleagues, and scooping up any supplies that we can still fi n d i n n e i g h b o r h o o d stores.
Photos courtesy of Nancy Mueller & Rachel Rosenthal
Double Whammy for Australians By Veronica Matheson
It’s been a double whammy for the Land Down Under as Australians are still recovering from massive bushfires around the continent as COVID-19 kicks in. Confirmed Australian cases have passed the 360 mark and grow by the day, capturing international headlines as an Australian Cabinet Minister, Peter Dutton, was confirmed with the virus just days after a business meeting with US President Trump’s daughter Ivanka. Around the same time, Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson, currently filming in Australia, were diagnosed with the virus and are now in isolation in a Queensland hospital. The first race on the World Series FI Grand Prix calendar was to be held in Melbourne at the weekend, but it was canceled after FI team members went into quarantine over COVID-19 concerns. The Australian Government has placed a worldwide Level Three travel warning on its Smart Traveller website urging Australians to reconsider all non-essential overseas travel, while all overseas arrivals are required to selfisolate for 14-days after setting foot in Australia. It aﬀects me right now as we were to be oﬀ to Japan next week where my husband was joining a motor enthusiasts’ tour of Japanese car factories, museums, and motor circuits. Fortunately, our tour company has postponed the trip until October. It is also fortunate as our travel insurance does not cover a pandemic. Now we have fingers crossed that the European COVID-19 situation improves in the coming weeks as we fly to Pa r i s t o “ b a b y s i t ” o u r daughter’s apartment—it has a view of the Eiﬀel Tower ©Chris Cutler from the kitchen window— while her family takes a holiday in the UK. When the family returns to Paris, we were oﬀ on a river cruise to explore Normandy, visit Monet’s garden in Giverny, the WWII battlefields, and so much more. We look forward to enjoying delectable French food and wine along the river banks. There were to be many generous glasses of apple cider by day to wash down crusty baguettes and rampantly runny cheeses, with smooth Calvados to rock us to sleep at night. We may need to plan French-themed feasts in Australia instead.
Coronavirus and Its Effect on Travel By Lori Sweet
Is the trip still on? Are you still planning on traveling? These are the questions I have been asked and am asking of others.
number of students who graduate this year and would not be able to use travel vouchers or go on the trip if postponed until next year.
My husband is an airline pilot who is at a major North American airport several times each week. He has noticed a significant reduction in people in the terminal and people on the flights. Even flights from one province to another in Canada have light loads compared to just a few weeks ago. At the airport, onl y a handful of people wear masks. From everything we have read, it should only be the people who have a cough or cold that should be wearing them.
I know of several people who had cruises booked with departures in the next couple of weeks. One was with Princess Cruise Lines and the other with Norwegian. Neither party wanted to cancel and lose their money. As of this writing, Princess Cruise Lines has cancelled all sailings for the next 60 days and has oﬀered a generous package for future travel or a refund to those booked with them. Norwegian has oﬀered credit towards another cruise in the future to m y f r i e n d s w h o b o o ke d w i t h t h e m . W h i l e disappointed that their trip is cancelled, both groups are happy that the companies chose for them.
People who buy masks unnecessarily have caused a problem for a family member of mine who is in the medical field. She needs an N95 mask for her job as a nurse. Unfortunately, they are backordered because people who don’t need them are buying them. Without a mask, she can have limited patient contact only. I was on a flight within Canada last week. I only saw one person with a mask, and I was the only one around me who used wipes to clean the tray and armrests. Cleaning the tray and armrests is a simple step to take to protect ourselves, yet few do it. I was planning a trip to California in early April to visit some wineries. That is still tentative. I have a big trip at the end of April to Europe with a large group of high school students. We are to visit Paris, London, and Amsterdam. At this point, most of the school boards have cancelled trips abroad. Our trip has not been cancelled oﬃcially…yet. If the school board cancels it, then the students can apply for a refund through insurance. Unfortunately, the travel company will not refund the money. There are a large
I do have friends and family that did choose to travel to Europe last week. My f riend Vicky f rom www.journeysjauntsandjunkets.com travelled to Italy for a conference that is now cancelled. She is stuck in Rome trying to get home to the U.S. My in-laws are in Portugal still enjoying a wonderful holiday. Here in Canada, we are lucky to have a universal health care system. If you are sick, you will receive treatment. The same health precautions advised around the world are also recommended here in Canada. The number of people in Canada who have been diagnosed with Coronavirus is low. Things can and do change quickly. Hopefully, people will take this time to enjoy their hometowns and plan a trip elsewhere while waiting for this to settle down. As my grandmother would say, “This too shall pass.” I just hope it is sooner rather than later.
Photo: Walkway at Toronto Pearson International Airport—©voyagewriters
Coronavirus: Face the Challenge By Scott Kendall ©Chris Cutler
Disneyland is closing this weekend. All public museums in Washington, DC will close. Italy is closed to all travel. Travel to and from the United States and most of Europe is canceled. The NBA, MLB, and the NHL have suspended all play until further notice. No, these are not headlines from the newest Hollywood disaster movie. They are real headlines on news of the day on March 12, 2020. As the Coronavirus hits pandemic proportions, the whole world has been hit hard. The travel sector has been hit especially hard. Countries have closed borders; airlines have canceled flights; quarantines have become the norm; and no one really knows what tomorrow may bring. As a travel writer who often plans months, and even years, in advance, I have recently had to make some tough decisions about my future travels. Some decisions have been made for me. And probably most frustrating, I am in limbo in several situations where it’s impossible to make intelligent decisions with so much uncertainty about the direction and magnitude of this obviously dangerous health threat. In particular, I have several big upcoming trips that most likely will not happen. One is a trip to Colorado. My wife was scheduled to have graduation ceremonies for her doctorate in nursing in June. I have made many plans, not only to attend the graduation, but also to arrange individual
press trips in Denver, Colorado Springs, Canon City, Santa Fe, Big Bend, and other destinations in the area. Just this week, the college canceled the graduation ceremonies because of Coronavirus. POOF! No graduation ceremony. We also planned to return to Paris in June for 11 days. I’ve made arrangements to be hosted for a tour of Versailles, a Food Tour in Marais, a street art tour, and am working on other arrangements to fill out my Paris itinerary. I also have two plane tickets from Houston to Paris, and a hotel room in the 2 nd Arrondisement for 11 days. At this point, I don’t know if the airline will cancel my flights. But with the trip just three months away, it’s not looking good at this time. What do I do? So what am I doing in this confusing, frustrating, and, yes—scary—time? Here are the things I’m focusing on.
Keep things in perspective. Actions being taken are to save lives and stop the spread of a deadly virus. Whatever inconveniences you and I face are minor in comparison. Rescheduling a trip, cancelling some reservations, or telling your editor you can’t write a story because you can’t visit a destination are not the end of the world.
Focus on what you can do, not on what you can’t do. So I can’t go to Italy or France. Where can I go? I can still travel to many places within the United States and to other destinations. I can stay local. Or, I can use some of the time I was planning on traveling to catch up on that long list of To Do items I haven’t had time to do – because I’m always traveling or writing about my travels.
Use this time as a learning experience In the future, you will undoubtedly run into more situations that you couldn’t foresee. The strength, flexibility, wisdom, and perseverance you used to get you through this Coronavirus crisis will help you get through the next crisis. Always have a Plan B and a Plan C when your original plans don’t materialize. By no means am I minimizing the seriousness of the Coronavirus and the obstacles it puts in our way. This pandemic will test our patience, and some bad things will happen. People are dying and will continue to suﬀer and die. We m u s t p u l l to g e t h e r a n d wo r k together for a solution.
We can choose how we respond to this crisis. Our choices are to face the challenge and make the best of it, or retreat in panic and fear and become paralyzed into inaction. I’ll choose to face the challenge and make the best of it every time.
Do We Stay or Do We Go? By Wendy VanHatten
You read your emails, check your Facebook page, turn on the television, and what do you see? Reports a b o u t t h e C o r o n a v i r u s , C OV I D - 1 9 . S o m e finformation is factual, some is fear-inducing, and much is confusing. It seems everyone has an opinion. For me, it is a real dilemma. We have a trip planned to Nice, France, and then to Provence. We purchased airline tickets, apartment rentals, and events tickets. Fortunately, we can get refunds for most. So, why the dilemma? The trip isn’t until April 27. That is seven weeks away as I write this. What is going to happen during the next seven weeks? Are things going to get worse or better? Are there going to be more travel bans? Will France turn into the next Italy? When do we have to decide? I have talked to friends who are traveling and will continue to travel. They tell me they are more vigilant with hand washing and sanitizing. They pay more attention to others who may have sneezed or coughed. They travel smart. I also have friends who say they will not travel at all until the virus is contained. For me, that is not an
option. Traveling has been a way of life for me. Staying healthy has also been a way of life. That means I will wash my hands a whole lot more than is probably necessary, I will make sure my tray table and arm rest are cleaned with sanitizing wipes, and I will try really hard not to touch my face. All those are a small price to pay for the beauty of travel. In fact, if I stayed home, I would probably wash my hands more than necessary and try not to touch my face. I just wouldn’t be able to enjoy good French wine in France. So, that brings me to our plans to travel in late April. Do we stay or do we go? Right now, our plans are in limbo. We still lean towards going. We don’t have to make the final decision for a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I will continue to monitor what is happening with the virus by reading and listening to veritable sites. I will not pay attention to the fearful reports. If we go, we will travel smart. But then, we usually do.
Travel in the Time of Pandemic By Sharon Kurtz
I have a love aﬀair with travel—it is all I think about and all I want to do. Instead of counting sheep at night when I lay my head on the pillow, I am counting the days until my next adventure. I am an indefatigable world traveler, and sharing tales of my travels is my passion. Needless to say, my life revolves around travel. I first heard about the Coronavirus outbreak while traveling to Maui in January, musing that it was unfortunate, but it didn't aﬀect my life. As recently as returning from Buenos Aires in mid-February, I was not concerned about being exposed to the virus at the airport or during the flight home. In less than one month, the outbreak, then epidemic, and now worldwide pandemic has aﬀected me at every level. How quickly things can evolve and change. I am scheduled to depart for a bucket list trip to Turkey in less than 3 weeks, ticking down the days, I can think of little else. The anxiety is palpable. Not because I am worried I will be exposed to the virus, but because I am afraid that it will impact my upcoming trip. As of today, my trip is still a go, Turkey has not reported outbreak of the virus. Having planned and anticipated this trip for 18 months, I don't want to cancel. I am still holding out hope that my trip will happen. I take precautions, and sanitizer, wipes, and tissues are always in hand. I wash my hands with soap & water while humming happy birthday twice through, taking care to avoid crowded places. Today, I am healthy with no underlying concerns. I have weighed the recommendations that I self-quarantine for the greater good. Still, I am longing to gaze upon the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, ascend in a hot air balloon in Cappadocia, and explore the ruins of Ephesus as planned, not in an unknown tomorrow. As a survivor of serious illness, I know the future is not guaranteed to any of us. I choose to live my life without regrets, and travel while I still can.
When It's Actually Time to Stop Traveling and Stay Home
By Terumi Pong
There might be no better time to go to Italy without crowds than right now. The streets are empty. You can get an unobstructed shot of virtually any landmark without having to crop out other people. There might even be a six-foot barrier between you and another human being so you can feel like you are absolutely alone in one of the most traveled places in the world. Yes, Italy is closed oﬀ from the world because of COVID-19 but we are travelers who know the ins and outs of getting anywhere. We could probably figure this out. We could have an adventure. By why do we travel anyway? Is it always to take as much from the world as we can? Is it to get the best deal? And is travel always about the individual traveling or do we have the responsibility to think about the impact we have on the communities we visit or the community we return to after we go?
businesses are struggling and do not have the resources to help their employees when there is a crisis and they have to immediately close. People can't aﬀord to stay home to recover from illnesses because they have no support system. Parents have no childcare or food for their kids when there is no school. We find out that government rhetoric is al lowing for xenophobia to rise in our communities as people with Asian backgrounds are being blamed for this disease. I am choosing not to travel during this time, and we've been social distancing to help stop the virus spread for a while now, but I am biased. My husband is a physician in a busy Seattle h o s p i t a l . He 's n o t someone who can work from home or even leave the hospital when sick patients show up. And even though many of us think we won't be aﬀected by this illness, the trickle-down eﬀect is catastrophic. As beds become flooded with the serious cases of coronavirus, there will not be beds left for people facing elective surgery, cancer, emergency surgeries, national environmental disasters, or any other need. Coronavirus attacks lungs. Lungs need oxygen. We don't have enough oxygen machines for this kind of demand. This revelation is sobering, and for the first time in my life, I am actually fearful for many of my loved ones all over the world.
We feel uncomfortable. We feel uninformed.
In Seattle, where I am right now, people are still trying to understand why schools are beginning to get canceled. Big businesses like Amazon, Microsoft, and Expedia took the lead even before schools closed and had people work from home. Many people thought this was crazy. And now many of us are inconvenienced. We feel uncomfortable. We feel uninformed. People who usually like to travel for spring break are being forced to reconsider plans. Many are wondering, should we still go? Where can we go? We need to go! But maybe this tells a bigger story that we need to think about as travelers and as human beings. We find out that in Seattle, many of us do not have the savings or finances when work ceases for even two weeks. We find out that restaurants and small
Before you travel, please think of why we travel in the first place. For me, I'm going to be staying put in my community for a while, trying to help out where I can, trying to social distance, and washing my hands. When we get through this crisis, I hope this new lens will frame the adventures I choose and the stories I write when I start traveling again.
Moving Target of COVID-19 Pandemic’s Impact on Travel By Noreen Kompanik
When I attended TravMedia IMM this January in New York City, I met with many PR reps from all over the world. This year, my focus was on European travel. As a result of our “speed date” inter views, I was blessed to receive many invitations to countries like Spain, Portugal, France, and the Canary Islands. Obviously, those trips aren’t going to happen in the near future given
the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions. Just yesterday, I was invited on a press trip to Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Today, I received an email that the trip has been postponed due to the virus. As was a trip to Belize in April. Even my editor at Travel Pulse announced that most of their staﬀ press trips have been cancelled. As a freelancer, travel is my job. But the ability to be flexible during this crisis is important. Until all the craziness subsides, I’m shifting my focus to more of local and regional bent for my stories. I’m thankful to be a regular contributor for publications like Edible San
Social distancing at Bar al Cortile, Pettorano sul Gizio, Italy, before the complete shutdown. ©Bar al Cortile All photos above ©Chris Cutler
Diego and San Diego Explorer as well, where I can cover sustainability issues along with wineries, restaurants, and local travel. I don’t plan to stop traveling at this time, although circumstances may dictate where and when I — or any of us—can travel. Just returning back from San Francisco I can say that I’ve never seen airports so slow and plane seats so empty. But, like me, travelers were taking all the necessary precautions with social distancing, thorough handwashing and use of antibacterial wipes, and hand sanitizers. At some point normalcy with return. Until then, I plan to remain diligent and creatively flexible.
When Staying Safe Means Staying Home By Shelly Wilfong
For the past six years, my family has been part of an intergenerational mission trip to an orphanage outside of San Jose, Costa Rica. Each one of us makes a unique contribution to the team. My mother serves as a translator and helps the local women prepare meals for the mission team. My teenage daughters engage with local youth through sports and lead arts-and-crafts. The able-bodied among us take on more physical challenges like building a septic system or erecting a cinder block fence. Team members with specialized skills, from bread baking to hairdressing, share what they do best with the local community. This year, COVID-19 wrecked our Spring Break travel plans. The first sign of trouble came when my physician husband announced he had concerns about my mother’s traveling. Although she is healthy, my mother is over 70, and COVID-19 can be deadly for older people. She reluctantly bowed out of the trip, but the rest of us still planned to go. In the week before departure, fellow team members became increasingly concerned about various health ailments, the possibility of having to self-quarantine upon return, and the uncertainty about shifting international travel policies. Our church and the orphanage ultimately decided to postpone the trip. A new destination emerged quickly, and my family rented a house in the Texas Hill Country. Avoiding air travel seemed to be a wise choice, and I could visit the many nearby Texas wineries. This plan was disrupted when, once again, my husband advised my parents to stay at home. My daughter had just returned home from her 8th grade trip to Washington DC, potentially exposing her to COVID-19 as well as the typical germs that are prevalent this time of year. A person can transmit COVID-19 before experiencing any symptoms, and the safest bet is to keep high-risk individuals away from potential sources of infection. Between the germs my children bring home from school and travel and those my husband brings home from the hospital, my parents’ biggest health risk factor is spending time with us. Common safe travel tips include thorough hand washing, use of disinfecting wipes to clean shared surfaces, and “social distancing,” allowing space between parties in restaurants or transportation. Conscientious travelers should always cover coughs and sneezes and stay home when sick. These precautions may not be enough to ensure personal safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, for people in high-risk categories because of age or preexisting health conditions, traveling may not advised. My daughters and I will be spending Spring Break in the Texas Hill Country as planned, but it will be a girls’ trip. My husband will remain in Dallas to help manage his medical practice’s coronavirus response, and my parents are staying home to practicing extreme social distancing. Sometimes, the best way to stay safe is to stay home.
The self-imposed quarantine will allow my mother additional time to practice Spanish in preparation for our next trip to Costa Rica. Others that find themselves at home may want to spend time researching potential vacation destinations, taking an online language class, or tackling a travel memoir. These enriching activities will make future travel more enjoyable. My family is sorely disappointed about our cancelled trip to Costa Rica and our reduced headcount for the Texas Hill County road trip. We anxiously await our next opportunity to travel together safely. Intergenerational travel brings special rewards, and we look forward to resuming our memory-making as soon as possible. For more information on assessing your risk for travel and other tips for staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
All Photos ÂŠShelly Wilfong
Being chased home by Blinky, Inky, & Company By Therese Iknoian and Michael Hodgson Staring incredulously at our phones on Thursday morning, we were jolted fully awake with the text message, "Are you stuck in Germany for the next month? Trump just suspended all flights from Europe." Once we got past the stressed strings of overnight texts from well-meaning friends and family in the United States—and the U.S. government issued some clarifications after an unclear statement March 11—we realized we weren’t facing No Entry signs. U.S. citizens would be allowed in, so we made our decision: We'd stay put in Germany. We actually spend quite a bit of time in Western Europe and, specifically, based out of Germany, which to be honest has always felt like a safe haven. And as veteran travelers, we're used to adjusting our plans and finding humor in just about any situation. So, carry on we would. Despite our decision to stay put, however, this was starting to feel very diﬀerent. Travel plans had started to collapse around us starting the night before our February 28 departure when we heard the ITB international travel show in Berlin, which was our first stop, was canceled due to the risk of spreading coronavirus (COVID-19). Then, upon arrival, we found out our next stop, the TBEX travel blogger conference in Sicily, was also canceled. With one big POOF there went another two weeks of our trip!
So, we simply adjusted plans. We'd now have more time to explore Berlin and the surrounding area and perhaps pop oﬀ to Poland or Austria! AND we still had a consumer show called Berlin Travel Festival on the weekend and the concurrent Travel Massive blogger forum. Ah, not so fast: A day later, that too changed. Seems travel festival staﬀ had had contact with someone in Berlin who had tested positive for COVID-19. Just like that, the festival and blogger for um were canceled. Carr y on? We're travel professionals…. Of course, we'd carry on…. Meanwhile, panic buying settled into Germany, too— dry goods like pasta and flour were being rationed in stores. Toilet paper was simply non-existent. Hand sanitizer? Ha ha; dream on. We were toe-tapping and fist-bumping instead of shaking hands at a few spontaneous meetings in Berlin. We slathered ourselves with hand sanitizer we had brought from home and washed our hands more frequently and longer than we can ever remember. It was when European Union borders started shutting down around us—Denmark, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic—that our plans to carry on began to crumble. With the situation changing minute-byminute, we began to feel like we were being chased by Pac-Man’s Blinky, Inky, Pinky, and Clyde ghosts. One wrong turn, and we’d get eaten. Despite being longtime, savvy travelers, we now had this unsettled churn in our stomachs and a nervous addiction to neverending news feeds and updates. It was time to head home to California. We hadn’t fallen prey to panicked dashes to airports 24 hours earlier, but it was time to find our safe haven —this time it would be in the foothills of California. In California, we could better monitor the situation, self-quarantine with our dog—and of course plan our next travel adventure. Stop traveling? Heck no. Crawl into a dark closet? Nope. But for the next few weeks we would enjoy the outdoors. California would be our safe haven. And then we’d carry on and travel. We always do.
Sign in German store: In light of the current situation, we are only able to sell four packages per person of various products (e.g. sugar, flour). Thank you for understanding.
How Ya Gonna Keep ‘em Down on the Farm, After They’ve Seen Par-eee?
By Diane Dobry
When I am working, I love sleeping late, making my own hours, and sitting in my pajamas all day in front of the computer writing. Some days I’m obligated to go into an oﬃce, but I frequently even complain about that and have been known to say, “I wish I could just stay home all day, every day, in my pajamas.” And then I tell myself, “Be careful what you wish for.” While I am a homebody to a great extent, I also love traveling abroad, exploring new cities and cultures, and living, at times, like a local in my favorite home away from home—Hungary—with side trips to other countries nearby whenever possible. In December, while planning my next trip abroad, I was contacted unexpectedly by a dear friend I had known 25 years ago in New York City. He now lives in Alicante, Spain, in a large flat overlooking the Mediterranean. “Come and visit me,” he oﬀered. “I will be your tour guide.” I had been looking at cruises, since I have an eating issue that requires me to have a limited diet, and in my experience, cruises were the most flexible when it came to preparing meals for their guests. The only other alternative, I thought, would be to stay with my friends in Hungary, where I would have access to their kitchens, and I could make my own meals. But I had never been to Spain before, and Alicante sounded lovely. Here was a friend oﬀering me a place to stay with wifi, a kitchen, a ride to and from the airport, and shops in walking distance. It was the perfect plan. Originally I thought of traveling in March, when I could possibly go to the TBEX conference for travel bloggers in Sicily for a few days first. But, again, my food limitations weighed on me, so I messaged him in February, after several online conversations, and told him I could come in June and then go to Hungary in July to stay with my friends there. No reply. This friend has a daughter living in northern Italy whom he visits for a week or two each month. As I
began to hear stories about COVID 19 hitting Italy, I sent other messages asking if he and his daughter were okay. I still heard nothing back and did not see him on social media. I still don’t know anything about their situation. I hope he and his family are well. Currently, the whole idea of a trip to Europe is moot for the time being. The Hungarian friends I had planned to visit in July are on social media sending messages warning friends to “Stay home!” I am doing just that. I infrequently go out to the store, since a week before the toilet paper shortage, I did my preparedness shopping, asked my boss that I be excused from going to the oﬃce (I am the only one over 60, so I felt it was a fair request), and canceled all social plans for the month. Now, more people are being told to work from home, if possible. I am home all day, every day, alone most of the time, being uncharacteristically OCD. Not in my pajamas, though. I’ve heard a walk in the Florida sunshine is considered a preventative step against the virus, and I make the eﬀort whenever possible. So, blame me for this mess and my wish to work from home and not leave the house. But be really grateful that if we must self-isolate, we live in a time when we do not have to be isolated completely—we have Face Time, social media, Netflix, games to play, books to read, and the ability to continue to work in many cases because of technology. And, much of it from a little digital gadget we can carry in our pockets. Thank God for such small favors. In the meantime, watch House Hunters International, Rick Steves, The Great Courses with travel programs around the world, plan your next adventure or write about those you have already experienced. And, may we get past this danger and be back on the road again, soon.
An Ounce of COVID-19 Prevention is Priceless By Janie H. Pace
Things are getting pretty crazy out there these last few days, with the CDC and local Tarrant County and Dallas County banning groups and meetings of 250 people or more, asking citizens to stay home and avoid large gatherings. School districts have extended spring break for two more weeks through March 27. Churches have closed through the end of the month and will stream services online since a Fort Worth priest became the first Tarrant County patient testing COVID-19 positive after visiting a Kentucky religious gathering. My woman’s club has closed through the end of the month.
My midday Friday visit to the local grocery store for a few things that normally would have taken me 20 minutes turned into an hour-and-a-half ordeal. Long lines of shoppers looked like they were getting ready for Thanksgiving Dinner with their baskets mounded over with all kinds of groceries, cleaning products, paper goods, bottled water, and more. Some shelves were bare—fresh meats, paper products, cleaning supplies, bottled water, alcohol, hand sanitizer, baby food formula, and Pedialite. That experience was concerning, but I refuse to allow panic to consume me. My husband and I are taking extra precautions for the situation:
The Dallas Travel and Adventure Show, scheduled March 28-29, was canceled • We wash our hands more often. due to an order by CDC and Dallas Texas Coronavirus • We use hand sanitizer when we are County to avoid mass gatherings of 250 away from home, after using a Prevention : Wash your or more people. Downtown Fort Worth grocery cart, or after filling up at the Inc. postponed its annual meeting and hands like you just got done gas station. slicing jalapeños for a batch luncheon on March 19. The city of Fort • We cough into our sleeve; we use a Worth has rescheduled the Main Street of nachos and you need to Kleenex once and throw it in the Art Festival from mid-April to Labor put in your contact lenses. trash. Day Weekend. Other closings include • We are careful to avoid large The Kimbell Art Museum, the zoo, and (That’s like 20 seconds groups of people. Billy Bob’s in the Stockyards. American • We are doing everything to boost of scrubbing, y’all!) Airlines is cutting flights and allowing our immune systems. unpaid leaves of absence. Our doctor’s • To avoid the crowds, we order oﬃce texted to call the doctor’s oﬃce first if we have take-out instead of our regular eating out on the symptoms before we travel to see them. weekends. • We have enough food on hand for two weeks. Suddenly, my husband and I must consider where we go and what we do. He is dealing with Significant I also have to consider future travel and if it would COPD and is one of those individuals now expose my husband or me to the coronavirus. considered medically compromised. He reminds me that I am also in that group since I have Type II I have another travel event planned April 28-May 1 Diabetes. It has me thinking, “How worried should I from Dallas to Palm Springs for a writing conference. be?” I am waiting to see if they reschedule the meeting because, while the writing conference is important to Upon learning that Viking had stopped all cruises me, I must consider the “what-ifs.” I can’t expose my temporarily, I rescheduled our two-week Viking husband to the virus. Right now, I’m in a holding Homeland Ocean Cruise plus the 4-day Iceland pattern. excursion from May-June this year to the same time next year with no penalty. Viking provides excellent My focus is for both of us to stay healthy and safe, service. and to take one day at a time. For, in time, this too shall pass.
London in Springtime? Not So Fast By Sue Frause
My husband and I were invited to attend a global PR celebration in London in early May of this year. London in springtime? But of course! I booked our flights to Heathrow, flying in early for a five-day tour of Wales, a country that has long been on my travel list. And then coronavirus erupted in China and was soon spreading across Europe and the USA. Early on, I wasn't too concerned, as London wasn't hit all that hard. But as the weeks rolled by and the number of coronavirus cases grew, I started having doubts whether it was wise to travel internationally. I was especially concerned since we'd be flying out of Seattle, a region hit hard by the virus, with our state's death toll numbering almost 40 as of this writing. Although organizers of the PR gathering had not yet announced whether the celebration was still a go, I decided that for us, it was a definite no. I canceled our flights on both United and Icelandair, along with our tour of Wales and four nights in London. Fortunately, there were no cancellation fees or penalties involved. For the most part, I'm a fairly relaxed, fly-by-the-seat-of-my pants traveler. But both my husband and I are prime targets for the coronavirus, he being 74 and me 69. It didn't seem wise to go. As far as future travel, it's on hold. Wales will have to wait until we get the 'all clear.'
This Is Beyond…
The Effects of COVID-19 Get Personal By Debbra Dunning Brouillette
Isla de Vieques
All I keep thinking is, “This is beyond…” Beyond what I’ve experienced thus far in my lifetime. My mid-size midwestern city of Evansville, Indiana, has just announced all restaurants and bars will be closed, except for take-out or delivery. My 89-year-old mother’s assisted living facility will close to outside visitors as of tomorrow. I was able to visit with her in person for the last time until no one knows when. She does have an Echo Spot with Alexa, so I can call her on it, and she and I can see each other, which should help. She has dementia, so I am hoping she will adjust to not seeing me in person several times a week. I am also depending on the staﬀ members, who I know will be overworked and stressed, to watch over her even more closely. I haven’t traveled out of the state of Indiana since last November when I flew to Albuquerque, New Mexico, for a pre-conference press trip before attending the IFWTWA conference in Santa Fe. I was really looking forward to a press trip to Brownsville, Texas, in early April, followed by another trip in early May to San Juan, Puerto Rico. I was excited to have been selected to be part of a press trip to Vieques, an island oﬀ Puerto Rico, before attending the NATJA (North American Travel Journalists Association) conference in San Juan. All of that is now postponed until further notice. Because of a novel coronavirus—COVID-19, as it’s been labeled by WHO (World Health Organization) —the world as we know it has been turned topsyturvy.
I am used to working from home on my laptop, and I will use this time of at least modified self-quarantine to catch up on my writing. There are articles and blog posts I need to write. There are many things I can do to use this unexpected and unwelcome period of uncertainty in a productive way. I pray that, in time, we can all return to a semblance of normality, but I expect this will be a new normal. “This, too, shall pass,” is something I cling to, and I have faith that it will. I also have hope that we can emerge from this pandemic better for having gone through it. Maybe we’ll appreciate the simple things of life that, especially in America, we’ve taken so much for granted. I can’t wait until I can travel again—until I can experience new destinations and share them with others through my words and photos. In the meantime, I pray my mother and all others who may be vulnerable to having serious complications should the C OV I D - 1 9 v i r u s invade their body will remain protected and healthy.
The author, her husband, and her mom in December
The Last Words By Christine Cutler…and friends
As I mentioned at the beginning of this issue, I am a citizen of both the US and Italy, and because of that, I have many friends and family throughout Italy. I have been in contact with many of them over the past few weeks, checking to make sure they are okay and keeping safe. As of this writing, everyone with whom I’ve spoken has remained physically healthy. None lives in the Red Zone, but no matter where they are, the virus has upended all of their lives and businesses. The one thing I take away from each conversation is how positive they all are in the midst of all of this. Cesare, who owns Bar Santo Stefano in Bologna, tells me that because he is Spanish, he is trying to look at what comes at him with a bit of humor. Novelia, who with her husband, Peppe, is an unoﬃcial ambassador of Abruzzo, looks toward the time that she can start showing people the beauty of her town and region. Laurell, Fede, and their children cook together. Cristina, whose son owns a bar in the village of my grandparents, says that it is, indeed, a horrible time, but the world will turn beautiful again. Kristi, an ex-pat married to an Italian, helps neighbors who need food or other necessities. There are so many others, including my my friend, Giovanni, who owns a B&B in Bologna. A few weeks ago, he told me that all of his March guests had canceled their reservations. His wife, who is a teacher, had taken her mother and their two children to San Giovanni Lipioni, the village where the mother had grown up. He decided to join them for a few days since he had no business, and before they could return to Bologna, the government locked down the country. S a n Gi o v a n n i L i p i o n i i s a s m a l l to w n a t t h e southernmost tip of Abruzzo. There are fewer than 50 full-time residents, most of whom are elderly. Olive groves and meadows surround the hill town which overlooks the Trigno valley. He wrote me an email from there, and I would like to share his beautiful words and thoughts that in the midst of this dark time, there still is something to be happy about. I end with his words: “. . .There is an incredible silence, but the landscape is very beautiful. We take long walks in the woods and among the olive trees. Despite the concern of these days, we are calm and happy to be together and to have so much time to share every day, something that does not happen often in Bologna. . .Sunday it snowed a little, but yesterday it was sunny. Spring is coming. The trees are full of white flowers, and violets fill the meadows under the expanse of olive trees that surround the town. I'm afraid we will have to stay here until early April. However, we try to continue our daily activities between children's homework and long walks. . .We hope that this period will pass quickly without leaving too many negative consequences. I hope that one day we will remember these days with a smile, like a forced holiday that brought us back to appreciate the small joys of each day. . .”
Photos of San Giovanni Lipioni and words courtesy of Giovanni Grillenzoni