It has been about 14 months since the pandemic imposed lockdowns here in the U.S. and most of the world. I can’t believe how long this has dragged on but since about 33% of Americans are fully vaccinated, there is an end in sight. Or so I thought. I just found out that as of 5/8/21, only 3.99% of the world population are fully vaccinated. How selfish of me to think that as long as I was vaccinated that I could just travel freely not thinking about each country’s situation. But when you want something SO bad, you can’t think straight. Besides, this vaccine passport idea is all too new and there is no precedence in place. As with all things during this pandemic, we are figuring things out as the situation and need arises. This means that my hopes for international travel doesn’t seem possible this year as of now. I’m a positive person, really, but after hoping (and kind of assuming) last Fall that I would be able to travel to Japan this March, postponed from March 2020, I kinda lost hope. It was too painful for me to keep obsessing about travel, an addiction that I fueled by feverishly looking at hotel sites, travel sites, and curiously wondering what each airfare costs by plugging in random places around the world on my favorite travel apps. It was a game that I enjoyed so much ever since my wanderlust, but I stopped punishing myself many months ago when I couldn’t see the end of this pandemic in sight.
When Spring came around along with the vaccine rollout, there was optimism in the air. And just yesterday I saw many women walking around in 6 inch heels and dressed up to go shopping and dining. Thinking that after I get my second vaccine shot this upcoming week that I would be free to plan trips around the world, I was grossly mistaken. My naive thinking as well as my impatience, and ridiculous optimism to travel again, made me peek at the NYT Travel section again. Every Sunday I would eagerly make my vanilla matcha latte to slowly sip while reading and dreaming of my next destination. But during lockdown I didn’t allow myself to go there. Today, however, I was happy to look at the NYT Travel section again with my latte in hand although there wasn’t many positive articles to read except for the hope that Greece will reopen in June.
Being an avid reader and scouring the best seller lists weekly, I was looking for a new book when I saw that WORLD TRAVEL, by Anthony Bourdain and his former assistant, Laurie Woolever, was No. 1 on the Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous section. I started to think about how Mr. Bourdain would handle this pandemic and the world’s travel ban. It would drive him mad, I suppose, especially living in New York, one of the hardest places hit by the pandemic. As I thought about how much I had to cook for myself during the lockdown making basic meals, I imagined Mr. Bourdain cooking his life away by making exotic meals that look beautiful on Instagram while taking up his cigarette habit again, getting a pot belly, putting his content on all social media platforms, and helping the NYC restaurants somehow with his fame and celebrity. I am sure he would have soured to even greater fame because of the pandemic by getting a new show or a new podcast channel and rediscovering himself during the process. I miss him dearly as I’m sure the whole world does. But when it comes to travel, as for now Mr. Bourdain, the rest of the world, and I are all on a even playing ground. We are powerless to go anywhere that requires a passport. As with everything in life, things change. The days of wine and roses, and the freedom of travel are on the horizon. We can’t necessarily see the horizon with clarity but we know it’s there. As we have learned that we are much more connected than we realized before the pandemic, I dream of an ideal world as international borders open up where we can travel to a new place for the first time, share a hug (alas, a kiss!), share beautiful meals with strangers and loved ones, and continue our thirst for wanderlust.