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.
Testing for Covid has become something akin to roulette. Border control is as fickle as the poorly trained sops fatigued by overtime because there aren’t enough staff. Complicated and ever-changing rules with little consistency country to country turn journeys into maize fields. And all this is made worse by a damn virus that changes so fast.
Societies’ responses to the virus have been all over the spectrum but mostly too reactionary or negligent — rarely measured and in between — making travel between different countries a nightmare.
A lot of this isn’t surprising. Global society isn’t at its best right now. Our only shared achievement is that we haven’t nuked ourselves. If we can’t stop bombing hospitals how the hell are we going to control BA.2?
And yet as I reflect on the several hours spent viewing the Book of Kells and wandering through the Long Room I realize that fraction of an otherwise miserable journey was probably the most important period of my recent life: Surprising inspiration from the pudgy monks who so beautifully laced art with ideology… Perseverance through torture that creates peace… Simple joy at discovering how the letter “j” arose in my language that made me chuckle. And the beauty – mostly the beauty – of not just the Book itself, but the millennia of humankind that created, protected, nurtured and now preserve it. Those few hours of the otherwise 4-day backbreaking, horrible and often frightening journey to bring my wife home cooled this old man’s angry soul and made me sigh with wonder.
So we’re not done with traveling. It’s more than worth it. Even through the darkest tunnels Covid lays in our paths, we’ll discover something new or fun and exciting and remind ourselves that there’s a reason to keep living and searching and learning.
If we don’t travel, we might as well lay down in our graves right now.
Next week I’ll write a series of blogs about my Dublin journey, my trip to extricate my wife from a foreign land after she tested positive for Covid. There’s a lot to learn for us all, travelers or not.