Covid 19. The word that will live infamously forever and ever. As practice shows, one day soon, we will watch on Netflix, Stan or Prime Video some documentary about what really happened to the world in March 2020.
I do remember that I was in the Middle East when I got the news “borders are shutting down” and message “if you don’t come home in 24 hours you will never be able to come home”!
At first, I faced a dilemma, how is that possible that I cannot come back home? I was looking for more info about this pandemic but got nowhere except, we all going to be inside our homes for 2 weeks only, to ‘flatten the curve’. Well, these were the exact words I heard and of course we need to go through an education on “how to wash our hands” and “why masks on our faces are our best friends”.
At least so many medical experts were drumming on the media 24/7 about this pandemic and lucky me, I found that spot on the plane and was on my way back home. Into lockdown. Our only window to the world was the TV, Internet and 24/7 hammering by medical experts. The world opened in late 2021 and finally we can travel again, see loved ones and perhaps go for holidays because it’s safe. Or not?
It is May 2022 and I am on the road, well on the plane and traveling the world from Australia to Eastern Europe to the Middle East to Asia and finally back home to Australia. It was 20 something days between continents, cities, hotels, sun and sand storms. So let me start with the departure. After 2 years of walking in the park and talking to trees, my decision was made to fly and see clients, family and loved ones.
The departure from Australia was truly demanding: various apps to be installed, PCR tests and above all proof of vaccination and then on airplane amongst 400 passengers, where mask on face is must. Except when we eat. Or drink. Or sleep. Otherwise, masks on face. No one is policing if masks are on our faces once when airplane become warmer and cosy after a delicious meal, which is better to avoid than eat.
It doesn’t make sense, 400 souls on plane sharing a confined common space by inhaling and exhaling air amongst each other, but OK we done all paperwork before traveling, at least the virus is not amongst us… or at least we believe so.
Landing in Dubai was smooth. After 14.5 hours of enjoying sounds of engines finally I can feel the ground under my feet and with time to collect my suitcase, face the customs and take my mask off. Guess what?! No one in the airport asks you to wear a mask. We were moving forward and showing our passports. The customs officer is checking my identity and literally shows no interest for my vaccination status, apps, mask or did I wash my hands.
Welcome to Dubai. A society which is living freely. No advertisements around about Covid and no Covid marshals, police, SWAT teams to enforce masks.
Time to depart for Eastern Europe. Of course, rules around covid in Eastern Europe are even less strict, in contrary no one cares and surprise, surprise I am the only one who wears the mask. Needless to say, I was told by taxi driver “don’t worry about masks” Covid is around us so I was little bit reserved until taxi driver sarcastically said “my friend we are not in Australia, relax this is Eastern Europe”. I was silent. My silence was the answer. Taxi driver then turned and asked, “are you from Australia?” so I replied Yes. We both become silent in the confined space called – car.
Me with mask on in the back seat, him on his mobile phone talking to someone, or at least he was pretending to do so. After Eastern Europe I am back into Dubai on my way to Asia. No need to repeat the same wording and experiences but, you know what I would say anyway.
So often I asked myself the question, how is possible for the world to move freely in this “post-covid era” when in the moment you sit on plane, rules are changed, relaxed and not enforced? For the past 2 years medical experts drummed on around the clock about Covid but what I am interested in is how come medical professionals are not united around the fight against Covid? Isn’t medicine a universal discipline around the globe? Understanding what the virus is and how to combat this pandemic? Then ask yourself the question, what will happen when the next pandemic hits, more violent or deadlier than Covid19?
And at the end, imagine being a tourist in some country where you are a total stranger and don’t understand their rules or don’t know how to read advertising or promos about the pandemic and how to behave?
Perhaps the world will unite in rules and messaging around how to tackle pandemics, how travel is during a pandemic and most importantly, be kind with avoiding lockdowns and isolations from the rest of the world.
I still see that signage on “how to wash your hands”. I’m not sure if this is truly real or governments were sarcastic, but at least it was universal signage.
This post was written by Mario Bekes