From Nomad to Nowhere!
Picture this: you're 25 and you've just quit your stable, professional job. You have sold everything you owned, moved out of your city apartment and booked a one-way ticket to Greece. You've set off on what can only be described as "living your dream life!"
Now, you drink freddo espressos (super-sweet and indulgent Greek iced coffee) for breakfast every day on remote Greek islands. You dance like no one is watching to The Bangles- Walk Like an Egyptian, in front of the Sphinx of Egypt. You sail the Turquoise Coast of Turkey for weeks on end, swimming in the bluest water you've ever seen. You fly in the smallest propeller plane imaginable over the Costa Rican jungle and fall in love drinking spicy jalapeño margaritas under the stars on a beach in Mexico.
Yep, that was my life.
Then 2020 happened.
I spent New Year's Eve 2019 on a beach in Costa Rica with some newly acquired friends from Brazil and New Zealand. We spent the evening drinking home-made kombucha and watching the sky- all pointing and shouting at the shooting stars that flew past every few minutes. We talked about our favourite parts of 2019, the lessons we'd learnt from the year and the BIG goals we were gearing up for in 2020! Admittedly we did go to bed well before midnight, but don’t let that take away from the magic that we thought 2020 would be.
A few weeks later, now in Japan, I recall reading an article about a virus spreading rapidly through China. I didn't pay it much attention. I was living my dream life.
Another few weeks later and I was in Mexico, video-chatting with my best friend who was in Vietnam. She told me about 'Coronavirus' and how it seemed to be spreading incredibly fast throughout China and possibly South-East Asia. She was concerned but I kind of shrugged it off, we'd survived the Swine-Flu epidemic back in 2009, it would all pass soon.
At this time, my best friend, a fear-less solo traveller, decided it was time for her to go back to Australia. But I felt totally safe on the American continent so my travels continued.
Next I was in the US, briefly visiting Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Then it was onto Hawaii, where I planned to stay for a while.
Here I was totally safe, for sure. But then case numbers exploded in countries like Italy, Iran and Spain. A close friend of mine in Hawaii was from Barcelona and every day the news from his home-city seemed to get worse and worse. But still, we were on a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean-we'd be fine!
Next, we started hearing about cases here and there across the US mainland. In Australia, the government was starting to enforce some pretty strict restrictions on those returning from overseas. Then the US banned all arrivals from Europe.
Talking to my family back in Australia, they urged me to think about coming home. But I still wasn't ready to admit defeat.
At this point people on Kauai started bulk-buying toilet paper, antibacterial gel and long-life food. Everyone was talking about this virus and speculating whether or not it had arrived on the island yet. My gym started asking people to sanitise every thing they touched, and Walmart started rationing products to one per person. It was madness.
One morning I woke up to the news that many airlines were grounding all their flights. Concern was creeping in, so I looked up flights from Hawaii back to Australia. What was usually a super-popular route now only had two flights per week and one of them was tomorrow.
I spoke to the family I was staying with and we all agreed it was probably best if I got on that flight. So I packed my bags and headed to the airport.
I planned to fly Kauai-Honolulu-Sydney but bad weather on my first leg meant I missed my connection in Honolulu. In re-booking me onto the next flight, the airline representative told me there were no more direct flights from Honolulu to Sydney, indefinitely. I would have to fly six hours to L.A. spend the night there, then fifteen hours back to Sydney.
In the airports I felt like the only person wearing a face-mask. The only person trying not to touch a thing and definitely the only person darting into the bathroom every few minutes to wash my hands.
Landing in Sydney was strange. Not only was I surrounded by Australian accents for the first time in months but official boarder security entered the plane before anyone was allowed to disembark. We all had to sign a legal declaration stating that we would self-quarantine for fourteen days staring immediately.
Back at my parents house, I was relegated to the down-stairs basement where even my childhood pet dog refused to visit.
What on earth was happening? I'd gone from living the nomadic life of my dreams to living in my childhood bedroom. At 26.
It's been two months now. And I'm still in my parents basement. I've moved on from binge watching Netflix and obsessively baking sourdough bread, wallowing in my confusion and disbelief of the world around me. I gradually began to pick myself up, dust myself off and really think about my dreams. Now I'm focusing on building myself an online career, one I can take with me anywhere I go- once I'm allowed to go again, that is.
Some days I feel incredibly frustrated, but mostly I feel insanely grateful to be surrounded by a kind, loving family and to have a downstairs basement I can call my own. It's only now that I realise I desperately needed this time to relax, reflect and re-evaluate my priorities so I can really focus on what I want the rest of my life to look like. Thanks covid!
For now, I know I'll be back out there exploring our glorious world one day soon but until then, this is my life.
2020, you've sure given me plenty to think about!