(Aranal Volcano, Costa Rica)
One of the wonderful aspects of traveling abroad is learning about other cultures and, hopefully, returning home appreciating all that we have since just about everywhere else, life is harder and there are fewer opportunities. Natalia and I recently visited the amazing, but pretty impoverished country of Costa Rica. We travelled throughout the country, from the Caribbean Ocean to the Pacific, and for such a small place (it covers less than 0.03% of the world’s landmass), it has 6% of the planetary biodiversity. The howler monkeys routinely woke us up at 5 am and the massive and varied plantlife made it seem like we were on a Jurassic Park movie set. If you go there, don’t just plunk down on the beach. See the country. It’s amazing and the people are wonderful. We felt very safe traveling there, both from the standpoint of general safety, but also the ever-present spectre of Covid. In Costa Rica, in order to work in any public space, tourism-related or not, vaccination AND masking is mandated. The only time we were nervous was when we were around some other travelers, usually ones from the US, who were not the most cooperative with masking or distancing. Some travelers were dressed practically in hazmat suits. Some, not so much. I’ll leave out photos and cultural references for privacy reasons!!!!!
As far as Covid numbers are concerned in the world, they are once again on the rise. EVERYWHERE. In Europe, just about every country is marking rising case numbers but there is one very simple and clear fact. In the countries where vaccination rates are good, hospitalization and death rates remain the lowest. Much lower than pre-vaccination rates. The top 12 countries in Europe marking the greatest numbers of illnesses, hospitalization and deaths are all Eastern European and, not surprisingly, all of those countries have 30% or lower vaccination rates. Numbers from all over the US are also on the rise once again. And again, not surprisingly, deaths and hospitalization are almost all in unvaccinated people. The vast majority of deaths among the vaccinated are in very compromised people.
There is a notion floating around that the vaccine is somehow accelerating the spread of this disease. That is complete nonsense. It is all about numbers. Covid-19 is the most infectious disease ever encountered. More than the plague, the 1918 pandemic, H1N1, EBOLA… The more it spreads, the more people get sick. The vast majority do fine, however, again because of the sheer numbers, many do not and in the US, we are on the verge of surpassing the 800,000 deathm mark. In addition, as antibody levels fall, booster shots become more important. The data here is also clear. Booster shots really improve success rates when it comes to lowering re-infection rates, hospitalization and death. GET THE BOOSTER.
Thanksgiving Day is coming up this week. Thanksgiving is modeled on a 1621 harvest feast shared by the Pilgrims (English colonists) of Plymouth, NE, and the Wampanoag people (I had to look that up since that type of meaningful information is crowded out by “Black Friday” commercials). Its meaning has evolved and is really a celebration of life, family and friends. It celebrates the abundance of life, family and friends. As much social, political and medical divisiveness there is out there in the world, we all really do have a lot to be grateful for. There is of course sadness for some. Life is life. We need to support those who are having a tough time. But we need to celebrate the simple joys of life.
That having been said…
Thanksgiving is the busiest travel holiday in the US and unfortunately, it occurs during the start of the cold and flu season. Wednesday night before Thanksgiving is the busiest night in pubs because friends from all over coming home, get together. Please go home to see family and friends but also, know your audience. If all your friends are not vaccinated and behave irresponsibly in public, maybe skip the pub night. Also, be mindful of your family who may be at risk. Hopefully you are vaccinated. Hopefully they are too, and may have even gotten the booster.
Also, please wear a mask. They are not perfect but they definitely help. Furthermore, if you are travelling, wear the best one you can, N95 or KN95. They are the same thing and really do provide superior protection. They are readily available these days. Cover your damn nose and stop touching it!
Although it’s cold in the northeast. Try to keep some windows open to provide some ventilation.
All of my 3 children are coming home and I am sooooo grateful for that simple fact. I can’t even start to describe how much they mean to me and how much I have learned from them over the years. My parents are coming down from Canada (my dad is a monster on the tennis court and ski range) and my in-laws (my father in law makes the BEST pickled herring, which I USED to enjoy before I started a vegan diet) and sisters in law and families are joining and I’m tickled. We will have a packed house and it’s the best. 25 +. The best Jerry! The Best! (Seinfeld reference).
Have a wonderful time with family and friends. If you have a chance, take a moment and look around at everyone you are with. That’s what it is really about.
Stay safe and be well.