Recently I received a WhatsApp from my friend P. “What am I doing?” she wrote. “I have hardly any money in my bank account, I’m in the middle of buying a house and I’ve just booked a vacation in Mexico.”
“What?” I answered. “When are you leaving?”
“This Thursday!” She answered. “I asked you!”
She did? I scrolled back through our messages. it was true Earlier in the week she sent me a link that I forgot to click. I’ve clicked on it now. My iPhone screen immediately blossomed with images of blue skies, even bluer swimming pools, and happy people sipping cocktails. “Good for you,” I typed, adding a smiley face emoji, a cocktail emoji, and a sunshine emoji. I was really happy for her. She’s had a tough year. Faced with a dreary gray British winter, who wouldn’t want to soak up some sun?
January is a sad month. No wonder people are starting to plan their summer vacations. But who am I kidding: I usually start googling hotels on December 27th, right after the Christmas cheese has been put away. This year, more than ever, I am reminded of the words of the poet Andrew Marvell: “But behind me I always hear the winged chariot of time drawing near”. Or, for those with a more populist bent, the words of Queen: “Forever is our today/Who’s waiting for eternity anyway?” Because if the pandemic has produced anything positive, it’s a reminder to seize the day. Nothing makes you appreciate your freedom more than having it taken from you.
If lockdown was characterized by everyone sending each other cheer memes, then after lockdown everyone sent each other links to exotic holidays. you are my porn Forget the latest episode of The Tourist: I’d rather spend an hour on i-escape planning a visit to Western Australia where it was filmed.
My desire to experience vacations in far away places is so great that I forget the vow I made as a child never to travel more than 10 hours by plane. who was the blind child A child who was obviously afraid of flying but grew into an adult who believes life is too short to live in fear.
My childhood wasn’t exactly peppered with long-distance travel. Or even short-haul vacations because my mother was afraid of flying. Our family’s first holiday abroad was to Spain, via a 36-hour bus journey that was so arduous it’s a wonder it didn’t keep me from traveling for life. When it came to discovering the world, my mother’s fear rubbed off on me: while all my friends were doing gap years in France or Peru, I went straight to university. It was only years later that my wanderlust was awakened by a business trip to New York. Driving across the Triborough Bridge and seeing Manhattan appear before me – so big, so exciting, so alien – changed my life. We all have a special place that we missed during the pandemic and New York was mine. How I longed to chat nonsense with a cab driver on the way to the Whitney, or walk the High Line to the Chelsea Flower Market for lobster rolls, clamato juice, and aged white cheddar popcorn. Anyone who thinks the world is global has never tried to order an MSG-free Chinese takeout with brown rice and steamed pak choi — not fried — outside of Manhattan.
Like many people, I’ve spent too much in the last few years with my head down on my phone, scrolling through old memories of vacations past. Had I really been to Iceland? What year was Marrakech in? Did I really drive directly from Ibiza to Venice in 2017? Joni Mitchell was right: You don’t know what you have until it’s gone. Now that the travel we took for granted has resumed, it would be remiss not to grasp every opportunity with both hands. After all, we have almost two years of standstill to make up for. We can’t snap back that time, but we can maximize every moment to come.
And we will. We’ll trek farther than we ever thought possible — so far that our fridges, sofas, and badly grouted bathrooms are a distant memory. We cycle through the Dolomites, play golf in the Algarve, marvel at the Taj Mahal and marvel at the pyramids. We will take the often promised safari trip to Kenya, although we are afraid of spiders. We’re going to visit an old school friend who emigrated to Vancouver in 1992. We’re going to climb Machu Picchu and if we don’t succeed, we’re going to photograph it. We’re drinking mojitos on Copacabana beach, a place that has fascinated us since we heard Barry Manilow’s record, because why should Lola, she was a showgirl, have all the fun?
As well as far-off new pastures, we may also revisit old haunts: the cities of our honeymoon; the ski slopes from our school trips; and the beaches of that disastrous backpacking vacation where we ate beer and shrimp for three weeks and fell in love with a tour guide named Somsak. We are older and wiser now. We are also less impoverished and do not have to stay in a youth hostel. We will roam farther and better, with a mind as open as our horizons. We also won’t be so tense if something goes wrong. So what if we’re sitting next to the toilet on a long-haul flight? It’s all part of the journey. Remember when we couldn’t fly at all?
We will never forget. Instead, we’ll remember to remember, in minute detail, every sound, sight, and smell our target produces. We will travel differently, mindfully, learning from and respecting new cultures. We will speak to the people we meet and we will listen. we will learn We’ll learn that a tan is great, but sightseeing feeds the soul.
Above all, we will be grateful: for the opportunities that life offers and for a world that has opened up again and lets us bask in its glorious sunshine or rain. We don’t know what the future holds – just that it’s out there, urging us to experience it to the fullest.
Admire the Iguazu Falls
The northern tip of Argentina’s Misiones Province, named for the Jesuit missionaries who first settled in the region in the 17th century, has one of the few remaining subtropical deciduous forests in the country. In it, Iguazú National Park is home to bright-beaked toucans, colorful parrots, raccoon-like coatis and howler monkeys, as well as more elusive jaguars, ocelots, tapirs and giant anteaters.
The centerpiece of the park is Iguazú Falls, which consists of about 275 separate waterfalls that span a 1.7-mile-wide fault where the Iguazú River plunges into the mighty Paraná. The Devil’s Throat — the tallest and noisiest drop — is nearly 500 feet wide and 270 feet tall. Gravity-defying palm trees cling to the sheer cliffs, swifts dart in and out of the tumbling, brown-tinged cascades, and thousands of butterflies flutter around the spray. Walkways above and below the falls facilitate access, and although bathing is prohibited, there are plenty of opportunities to take a dip on a boat ride or at the base of the cascades.