Covid IV

Covid IV

Covid – IV
Traveling with Covid

We traveled when colds spread in airline cabins. We traveled when flu was all around us. So now we’ll travel with Covid, too. Americans, though, have additional hurdles others won’t have to face. But if you’re an American, you’ve got to face them. Don’t walk away from distant travel, because America’s Achilles heel – and the disabling personal anxiety in our individual souls – is an unique cowboy loneliness that will take us down awfully quick. Travel is our antidote.
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Covid III

Covid III

Part III :
Do I get my money back?

I lost all the investment on a personal holiday to Paris to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary because my wife tested positive for Covid. The great if unusually satisfying irony is that a hundred or so travelers EWT has sent mostly to Africa since last fall had not a single Covid disruption. Just us, the owners.

No, we didn’t get our money back.
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Covid II

Covid II

Part II:
Is it safe to … ???

We want an answer, now. Right now. Is it safe? Is Covid gone, or under control enough. Replace “…” above with anything:

“Is it safe go back to Africa, now?” “Is it safe to restart my Yoga classes?” “Is it safe to go to school without masking?” “Is it safe to go to a movie?”

My answer to my question, “Is it safe to go to Africa?” is “Yes.” No matter what? No. As safe as before Covid? Depends on where and when you’re going.
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Covid I

Covid I

My four-day trip to Dublin last Saturday was as complicated and stressful as any in my life. All the unlikely pandemic warnings that I level at my clients came true for my wife and myself. Analyzed with the three African safaris which EWT completed in the last several months a grim landscape emerges that I can only hope is a mural of the past, not of the future.
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Ngami Pandemic

Ngami Pandemic

Shortly after crossing the parched deserts of what is now southern Namibia the explorer Charles John Andersson collapsed onto the embankment of the Hountop stream that ultimately led into the mighty Orange River. Dangerously relieved he almost fell asleep rather than drink some life-saving water. He had “made it through,” according to his book, Lake Ngami.

“But I was soon destined to experience a greater calamity… I was seized by a violent shivering fit which lasted three hours, then came the fever, of almost as long duration, accompanied by racking headache and profuse perspiration.”

These are classic symptoms of malaria. It was April just after the rains when malaria is most severe. But this was long before malaria was known and Andersson was convinced it was a pandemic.
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Recce

Recce

If like me you have serious hope that Omicron (and fingers crossed, the whole pandemic) might be gone by mid-year then you might want to join me as I continue chasing the herds in Tanzania this June!

My November “Recky” turned out to be a “Wrecky!” We slipped into sub-Saharan Africa at just the right moment, early November. Days after we started a fabulous safari Omicron hit the headlines and literally days after we headed home new regulations by our CDC would have made coming home much more difficult than it was.
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Whoa Nelly!

Whoa Nelly!

Travelers squeezing hope out of several reports from South Africa that the Omicron variant declines as fast as it surges need to calm down.

Being cautious about this does not mean I don’t believe the reports. I do. This morning DMC News’ excellent summary highlighting South African scientists’ excellent field studies absolutely shows me that Omicron might be insignificant in South Africa in as few as a couple months. Why, then, the caution?
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T&C’s

T&C’s

How about if each of you – especially if you’re strangers to me – each send me $100 for the best dinner you’ve ever had in your life. We’ll do it in about a year. Promise it will be the most memorable meal of your life!

Any takers?

There’s a reason that travel purchases aren’t capitalistic. There’s no enforceable contract between the consumer and the provider of the service. In a sense it’s just hype. You can’t try it on. You can’t return it when it arrives broken. There’s no warranty other than ebullient promises.
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Clasping Covid

Clasping Covid

Whether, when, how and where to travel is more and more confusing.

You would think that someone like myself, having just returned from almost a month in Tanzania, would have some sage advice for you. Our trip to an “adventure” destination – one clearly in the throes of Covid – went off without a hitch. There were new hurdles to overcome that we all managed quite well. So what’s the problem?
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Level Headed Up

Level Headed Up

The BBC just published findings from thousands of British Covid cases of which 581 were the confirmed Omicron variant. The preliminary conclusion is that even those who are fully vaccinated with a booster have a 1 in 4 chance of getting sick from Omicron. How sick? The BBC is careful to say this won’t begin to be known until next week and hastened to add that the British Health Minister believes it will be “mild” sickness.

What is “mild?” Should you go on your trip?
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Divide & Conquer

Divide & Conquer

If Boris Johnson hadn’t closed down his country and if scientists were organized well enough to give us a quick determination that the disease caused by Omicron is – as claimed by the South African Chief Medical Officer – mild, and/or that existing vaccines offer as much or better protection against Omicron than the flu vaccine does for the flu… the world would be in a much better place, today.

Whether Johnson’s policies and all those who followed him were well thought-out or reactionary doesn’t matter anymore. The die is cast. This latest blow to tourism in sub-Saharan Africa could be lethal. It’s spreading far beyond tourism. The influential Sowetan-Live news published, “Travel bans smack of colonialism.” The war’s begun.

WHO’s exhausted arguing that Omicron can’t be stopped by travel bans which do however impede research and implementation of global initiatives to stem the virus. The organization concluded a special meeting yesterday begging western nations to open their borders and share more vaccines.

This is no longer just an epidemiological debate. It’s political, economic and cultural.

Think of all the American governors who refused to shut down, to issue mandates or even publish statistics. The “Trump Front.” And the Trump Front’s base is rural, poor and feels disenfranchised from the America we know and love. The Front becomes most vociferous and dynamic where the demographics of the under-privileged meet the urban Mar-A-Lagos. There, the victimized poorest and the criminal richest don’t collide but collude.

Excluding politicians, hedge-funders and other evil exploiters, the common denominator between Mar-A-Lago and The Front is ignorance and the fear that creates when something new and threatening emerges like Omicron. Self-interest becomes muddled when you don’t know what to do. That’s the worst terror for the selfish.

So whether you’re Ted Cruz fleeing to the Caribbean or Donald Trump admitting he obstructed justice, or any of the nameless 600 being hunted down for storming the Capitol on January 6, you’re scared and … reacting.

Like Boris Johnson and the dozens of countries that followed that closed their “borders” to a virus that sneaks through steel mesh. The ramifications weren’t thought out before the bridge was lifted from the moat: Jail for the insurgents. Loss for the politician. Disharmony for the world. The perfect cesspool for a couple more variants to form. (Is war with Russia part of this?)

“Hate for Africa is unscientific, mindless” writes another correspondent in the Sowetan.

”Donald Trump called Africa a ‘shit hole’… Western nations have treated Africa with total and utter disrespect. From monumental human rights violations …to the ruthless exploitation of Africa’s mineral wealth, these racist policies continue… Today, Southern Africa is being ruthlessly punished for discovering and alerting the world for identifying a new variant.”

There is one earth and the virus attacked earth, not Brooklyn, not Torres del Paine, not Stellenbosch. As it divides and conquers us it heaves us into raw and hurtful divisions and those with either nothing to lose or the most to lose begin to fight to the death.

Woeful World

Woeful World

Of Kayak’s 226 countries it provides travel service to, only 6 are open to travelers without restrictions. 52 are closed entirely, sometimes even to citizens trying to return. That leaves 168 which you can visit provided that you are fully vaccinated, have a negative PCR test and are willing to quarantine on arrival for various lengths of time.

Trouble is to get to some of those 168 restrictive countries, you normally fly through one of the 52 (like Japan) that you can’t, now. So the practical number of countries that you can visit is probably less than 80, and almost all of them require quarantine on arrival.
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2-3 Weeks

2-3 Weeks

2-3 more weeks before we know how Omicron effects upcoming travel. The demographics of Omicron patients are right now being compiled: age, are they vaccinated and how many times and with which vaccine, are they a breakthrough? Laboratories around the world are mixing their serum with the antibodies current vaccines produce. What happens? One, two, a hundred experiments aren’t enough. 2-3 more weeks.

America is a horrible place to try to figure this all out. We’re either alarmists or aggressive reactionaries to alarm. But there are authorities and sources that if we’ll just be patient enough will give us good answers. 2-3 more weeks.
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