We’re getting plenty of people asking us questions about COVID-19 and our trip… we figured it’s best to just tell the story here… there’s “good news” and “bad news”. (Quotes intended for ironic effect.)
First.. the Good News
We’ve been having a very nice time in London, where the city is vibrant, active … everything is open and people are out and about seemingly living their lives in a normal way. We’ve been to museums, toured the Globe Theater and Parliament (cool!), seen West End shows, eaten our fill of Pub food and Indian … and today it’s sunny and beautiful. (Blog post on London coming later..)
You may be wondering — wait, isn’t the UK worried about the Coronavirus? Sure. We’ve seen plenty of virus-related warnings and notices.. but generally everything has kept going “as normal”. On the other hand, today for the first time– when we headed up to a hotel lounge at The Shard for a snack — they took all our temperatures before letting us enter…
In fact — trying to stay ahead of the virus, we’d even extended our stay here in the UK. Our original plan was to have left for Munich on Saturday morning .. then visit Neuschwanstein and some other great German sites before our critical next step: flying from Frankfurt to South Africa. We’d even made a LOT of progress figuring out an alternative-plan for travel in Africa with Semester at Sea being cancelled: 4 days in South Africa, then a 10+ day driving tour in Namibia with stops at their amazing sand dunes, national parks, etc. Our theory: the African wilderness would be a great experience, and with much less population density, slower virus spread and safer. We just need to get ourselves there!
Everything was looking good… until …
The Bad News.
Well .. until Sunday night. While enjoying a show, I checked my phone during the intermission just to make sure everything for Tuesday morning travel was still on track. And that’s when I saw the news article at right.
We’d been counting on the fact that UK was a “low-impact” country — not like Italy or China or even Germany — and that we’d still be able to travel into South Africa .. and then to Namibia .. and Botswana. And then later, hook up with months-ago-planned visits to Morocco and Egypt.
But as of this afternoon — that’s looking pretty impossible.
The southern African countries (quite reasonably!) seem to really be shutting down to slow the spread of virus .. and it looks as though that’s going to shut down our ability to get there. Sigh.
So .. what happens next?
We’re working on options.
A lot of you who know us will worry that maybe we’ll be a little foolhardy here — but please rest your minds. We’re looking into lots of possibilities… yes, including just punt and head home. We’ve talked a lot to our kids about how the situation is unprecedented and how we need to be thoughtful and cautious… and the kids have been amazing. (Somewhat shockingly — at this point even the twins seem to not want to give up and go home.)
Here’s a look at some of our thinking, in case you’re curious.. (Go OneNote!)
So … that’s where we’re at. At this point, we’re quite sure some form of punt is coming. I can’t see any way for us to get to Southern Africa and continue our new, Post-Semester-At-Sea-plan tomorrow. And even if we could … the other African countries are starting to look pretty challenging as well.
More when we get this figured out. We’re being sensible and thoughtful … just wanted you all to know.